Planning board OKs 321 project rezoning
by Anna Oakes
The project -- developed by Cornelius-based Stonegate Developers and Athens, Ga.-based Landmark Properties -- seeks a rezoning of properties at 784, 862 and 862-B Blowing Rock Road; 299, 311, 325 and 339 Faculty Street; and three vacant parcels to Conditional District B-3 General Business.
The property is currently zoned B-3 and is surrounded by B-3-zoned property to the north, east and south and R-3 multi-family and R-1 single-family districts to the west. The project will include a five-story mixed-use building on Blowing Rock Road, a combined four- and three-story apartment building on Faculty Street, a parking garage and the daylighting and relocation of Boone Creek.
"I think it conforms to the 2030 (Land Use Master) Plan. It's encouraging density," said Commissioner Tom Purpur. "I don't think we've always done what we say we want to do with the 2030 Plan. This is a move in that direction."
Commissioner Bob Cherry was the lone dissenter, expressing concerns that the project -- with the aid of Unified Development Ordinance variances granted in April by the Boone Board of Adjustment -- did not include enough commercial space for property located within the B-3 District.
"I'm fine with 90 percent of the project. I'm not fine with the 45.6 percent of the first floor that's not commercial use," Cherry said.
But Commissioner Jeff Templeton said the projects required by Boone's UDO to put commercial space on the first floor are having trouble finding retail tenants, including Mountaineer Crossing on N.C. 105. Planning Commission Chairman Eric Woolridge challenged Templeton's argument, however, noting that there may not be current demand for commercial in Boone but that some B-3 space should be preserved for the future, when demand could increase.
Commissioner Greg Simmons said he would like to see projects like this one more fully seize opportunities to develop infrastructure for alternative transportation such as biking and walking -- "to keep (tenants) from getting in their car and driving .2 miles to some place else."
Engineer Michael Trew said project leaders explored the option of a 10-foot-wide multi-modal path along Faculty Street but that the site grading, ADA requirements and a lack of existing right-of-way were prohibitive factors.
Wintergreen Lane resident Lynn White again appeared before the commission to speak against the project, as she did at a public hearing held June 2.
"I'm concerned that the residents, tenants and guests can look right up into the backyards of my properties," she said. "They'd have a clear view. There is no type of buffering that can be put in to prevent that."
The commission's recommendation will be forwarded to the Boone Town Council, which has the ultimate authority to approve or deny the rezoning request. The council will consider the request at its June 19 regular monthly meeting.
The council is also slated to consider a town water allocation for the project. Town staff previously calculated a usage of 97,879 gallons per day, but Standard at Boone representatives said they believe the actual usage will be significantly less than that amount.