MATTHEWS – Town leaders are allowing a luxury apartment complex to replace the Oakhaven Mobile Home Park despite concerns over how the project will exist with the extension of Northeast Parkway.
Bainbridge Companies committed to building 1,000 feet of Northeast Parkway, stopping 1,100 feet short of connecting to N.C. 51. Town staff recommended extending the road 50 more feet to the last apartment.
“In our view, it’s not critical to the success of this development but it’s a much better final product to go ahead and finish that street to the ends of those buildings,” Senior Planner Jay Camp told commissioners Dec. 11.
Ron Perera, senior development director for Bainbridge Companies, said the company didn’t want to extend the road to the end of the buildings, because it didn’t want anyone to go beyond the driveway.
The company didn’t want a dead-end situation where people park and loiter at all hours of the day, creating a nuisance for management and opening the door for negative resident reviews, Perera said.
During his last meeting as mayor Dec. 11, Jim Taylor cautioned commissioners the extension was earmarked by bonus allocation dollars tied to a toll lane project. Taylor described this as a variable that could take time to sort out.
While the apartment complex has the potential to give people quick access to downtown Charlotte or Monroe, Commissioner Chris Melton said the board tends to get pushback from the community because they approve apartments before building infrastructure.
“I think building this project now before Northeast Parkway is complete is premature,” Melton said. “I think it’s five to 10 years before it’s time. Let’s get the transportation infrastructure in place and then build.”
Commissioner John Ross said the project was a win-win for many constituents, but he struggled with its timing.
“Northeast Parkway is an important road network for the town, especially as U.S. 74 moves forward with the widening,” Ross said. “Where it’s not a win-win is for the hundreds of families that go to Butler.”
Ross did not want to add more cars to the morning and afternoon logjams, so he attempted to delay the vote to give the developer a chance to meet with planning staff to come up with a solution for traffic concerns.
“My intent of the motion is to not see a good project die, but if we vote tonight I’m pretty sure that’s going to happen,” Ross said.
But his motion to delay the vote to the next commission failed. Commissioner John Urban thought the new board would be just as eager to shoot the project down, too.
Urban asked Ross what he would like to see from the petitioner for the project to pass.
Ross replied he’d like to see a commitment to carry out staff’s recommendation to extend the curb and gutter. Sensing defeat, the petitioner agreed. The board then approved the project.
“I see both sides of this, I’m just unwilling to wait on NCDOT to solve the problem,” Commissioner Jeff Miller said. “I feel that it’s a win-win for the landowner, a win-win for the people on the land, a win-win for the apartment complex and a win-win for the Town of Matthews because a private developer is building 1,000 feet of public road.”
While initially against the rezoning, residents at Oakhaven Mobile Home Park have since encouraged town leaders to approve the project because they would get relocation packages from the developer as a gesture of goodwill.
Before the vote, Taylor cautioned colleagues this was one of two projects discussed Dec. 11 that would add 800-ish apartment units to town, in addition to approved projects not yet built at Monroe Road, as well as the corner of John Street and I-485.
Commissioner John Urban preferred to have a conversation about how many apartments is too many at the annual planning conference instead of every time a petition comes before them.