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Aldermen approve Claremont South

By Susan Dickson
Staff Writer

CARRBORO – In a move that will add a commercial component to a previously residential-only approved development, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve Claremont South, a development that will replace the previously approved Claremont Phases IV and V, proposed for 38 acres on the south side of Homestead Road, north of Wexford.

In 2009, the board approved Claremont Phases IV and V, which were proposed to include 96 residential units on the same property. However, Omar Zinn of Parker Louis LLC, the developer, returned to the board in 2010 to discuss the state of the housing market “and how the current approved [project] was difficult for me to swallow,” he said.

Zinn worked to develop a revised proposal, which includes 92 single-family residences and a small commercial component, but is largely the same as the previously approved project.

Board member Jacquie Gist said the board suggested that Zinn add the commercial component.

“If we’re going to be truly walkable, if we’re going to be truly sustainable, if we’re going to protect the environment, then we’ve got to put some commercial in [residential developments],” she said.

A number of residents spoke against the project, citing concerns about its proximity to Bolin Creek and its impact on water quality. Of particular concern was the project’s compliance with a new set of rules regarding nutrient loading in the Jordan Lake watershed, which are likely to be approved by the state in June.

“If you pass this development as proposed, Carrboro will have to eventually address this nutrient loading,” said Julie McClintock, president of the Friends of Bolin Creek.

“It is far more effective and much cheaper to address reductions before development is put in place.”

However, Zinn said the project’s stormwater-management plan was built to follow the current ordinance.

“The housing market is not what it once was, and we have followed [the existing] ordinance for three years. … I can’t always hit a moving target,” he said. “I understand your desire and the want for me to follow this ordinance, which may be approved in June … but at this point I would like to respectfully decline due to all of the time and money that we’ve invested and the fact that we’ve followed current regulations.”

Mayor Mark Chilton emphasized that a similar project had already been reviewed and approved by the board three years ago.

“I kind of feel like a lot of what I heard tonight was a lot of people coming in and trying to retry the case when it comes to this particular development,” he said.

McClintock said that the new project proposal brought up new concerns.

“You are having a new public hearing, and from a water-quality perspective I think that there’s new information,” she said.

  1. Mary Sonis

    I don’t think it is a wise idea to put 92 houses on a pasture that slopes directly downhill to Bolin Creek. When the developer respectfully declined to meet the new water standards, the board of aldermen had the power to respectfully decline to approve the rezoning. Adding commercial space may benefit the builder in a changing market, but the entire development will be a burden on the school system, and the taxpayers who already own homes in the neighborhood. So, the developer will make a profit…but the creek will be damaged. Our natural resources belong to everyone.