By Susan Dickson
Town planning staff have determined that they cannot recommend approval of a proposal from the developer of a previously proposed Family Dollar that would ease buffer requirements for an ephemeral stream on the property.
The Carrboro Board of Adjustment in June voted to deny a variance needed for a Family Dollar store proposed for a one-acre parcel at the intersection of Alabama Avenue and Jones Ferry Road. Stronach Properties, the developer of the Family Dollar, had proposed paving over the ephemeral stream for the 8,100-square-foot, single-story store, thus requiring a variance. The developer has since withdrawn the application.
However, the developer appealed to the town to question the amount of contributing drainage area to the ephemeral stream on the property. Under town ordinances, ephemeral streams with contributing drainage areas of five or more acres trigger buffer requirements for developments. If the contributing drainage area to the ephemeral stream on the property were less than five acres, the developer would not need a variance, though the property would still need a special-use permit approved by the board of adjustment.
In a June 6 letter, engineer Ronnie Sutton, representing Stronach Properties, wrote that a storm sewer pipe running beneath Davie Road and the businesses on the corner of Davie and Jones Ferry roads diverts water onto the parcel proposed for the project, â€œthereby artificially increasing the area from which the lot receives water.â€
Sutton said Stronach Properties proposed capturing the water from the pipe and diverting it via pipe to the public storm-drainage system at Jones Ferry Road, thus reducing the contributing drainage area of the ephemeral stream on the property to less than five acres.
However, town development review administrator Marty Roupe replied that staff would â€œnot be able to approve such a request, if made in the context of a Zoning Permit level projectâ€ or â€œto recommend approval of such a request if made in the context of a [special-use permit (SUP)] or [conditional-use permit (CUP)] level project,â€ because the proposal â€œneither conforms to the natural contours of the land, nor leaves natural drainage ways undisturbedâ€ and â€œdisturbs the natural drainage pattern â€¦ rather than respecting the existing condition in which the water exits the subject pipe and follows the natural contours of the existing drainage way.â€
Though some water draining onto the site â€œmay be the result of some past intervention,â€ Roupe wrote, â€œwhat is relevant is what water is coming onto the site at the time application is made.â€ Under town ordinances, development â€œshall conform to the natural contours of the land and natural drainage ways shall remain undisturbed.â€
Town planning director Trish McGuire said it is unclear at this point how the applicantâ€™s proposal to divert the water would affect buffer requirements for the property if done prior to making an application for a zoning permit-level project or an SUP- or CUP-level project â€œbecause there are just too many moving parts.â€
Stronach Properties did not return calls for comment.
Alabama Avenue residents and other community members have come out strongly against the project, saying the development would bring increased traffic, noise pollution and unsafe conditions to the neighborhood while decreasing values of surrounding properties.
Earlier this summer, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen voted to set a public hearing for Sept. 25 regarding the rezoning of the land at the intersection of Jones Ferry Road and Alabama Avenue from neighborhood business to residential. If the property is rezoned to residential, a developer would have to seek a rezoning from the board of aldermen instead of the board of adjustment in order to develop a commercial project.