From correspondent Tammy Grubb
The aldermen amended the town’s land-use ordinance Tuesday to allow higher-density residential developments downtown but continued wrestling with whether such a project would be a good fit on North Greensboro Street.
The newly amended B1(g) conditional zoning requires environmentally sensitive building and site elements “that will create a more vibrant and successful community” in exchange for more residential and less commercial space in new mixed-use projects. Developers will have to meet three of seven criteria, including energy and water conservation, alternative transportation and affordable housing. A minimum of 20 percent commercial space also will be required, contrary to the town’s Vision 2020 document, which recommends a minimum of 40 percent.
Alderwoman Jacquie Gist, who voted against the change, warned it would open the door to high-density, student-oriented apartments and allow developers of approved but stalled projects to ask for a reduction of their required commercial space.
Shelton Station developers have agreed to the new requirements, but reservations remain about what effect the 126,000-square-foot project and its 114 residential units will have on traffic and the neighborhood’s character.
N.C. Department of Transportation officials are likely to recommend adding at least one turn lane to Greensboro Street to accommodate increased traffic. While developers say the current right-of-way is wide enough to handle the expansion, those who live in historic mill houses across the street say it will reduce their already small front yards and increase pedestrian and bicycle safety concerns.
The aldermen asked developer Ken Reiter, of Belmont Sayre LLC, to address those concerns when the discussion continues Jan. 24.