Summerhaven to once again come before City Council

At last week's Mebane Planning Board meeting, the appointed board recommended that the Mebane City Council approve a newly-revised subdivision presented by Desco Holdings, the same residential developer that is in the process of starting the 700-home Cambridge Park subdivision south of the I-40/I-85 freeway corridor. The new proposed development, which is to be called Summerhaven, was initially approved last fall by the Mebane Planning Board for more than 200 homes, but was eventually withdrawn by the applicant. The new proposal calls for 78 homes, which may prove to be significantly more appealing to the City Council, despite the fact that the developer is not proposing to annex the property into the Mebane corporate city limits.

At last week’s Mebane Planning Board meeting, the local appointed advisory group recommended the Mebane City Council approve a revised version of a community that initially came before city leaders last year. The proposed residential neighborhood will now come once again before the Mebane City Council, who will consider the application at its October 7 session.

Desco Holdings, a firm based in Chapel Hill, presented to the Planning Board a retooled preliminary subdivision plat for “Summerhaven,” which would be constructed on just under 78 acres along N.C. Highway 119 South and Nereus Drive. Whereas the developer initially wished to develop 224 single-family homes on the property, Desco Holdings is now requesting approval to subdivide three properties for a total of 78 single-family homes. 

The developer indicated that they plan to provide onsite septic treatment for wastewater needs, and to use the Orange-Alamance Water System for water service needs. Desco Holdings has the property in question - a total of three parcels of land - under contract to purchase, contingent upon approval of rezoning by city leaders. 

This is a primary difference from the original plans, which called for annexation into Mebane’s city limits, and usage of the town’s water and sewer, which is typically the pathway to approval by the City Council. Also under the prior proposal, the streets in the neighborhood would have been city-maintained. The new plans call for the state-maintained roads.

The Orange-Alamance Water System reviewed Desco Holdings’ preliminary layout plans for the redesigned Summerhavent, and issued a provisional approval of the plans, indicating that the Water System has both the ability and intent to adequately serve the Summerhaven subdivision with potable water supply and fire flow. Prior to beginning work on Summerhaven, Desco Holdings will need to obtain an approved NCDOT Driveway Permit, an approved NCDOT Three-Party Encroachment Agreement with Mebane, an approved NCDOT Three-Party Encroachment Agreement with Orange-Alamance Water System for water extension and connections, and NCDOT approval of the final street design for Summerhaven. 

Another potential concern that could lead to hangups getting approval from the City Council is the fact that the developer requests making a payment of nearly $16,000 to the City of Mebane in lieu of providing private recreational amenities. Green space and park facilities have been a priority for this City Council in recent decisions whether or not to approve or deny new residential developments in and around town. Mebane’s City Council will consider the retooled Summerhaven subdivision at its October 7 meeting following a unanimous recommendation for approval by the Planning Board.

In this proposal, the applicant is not seeking annexation into the Mebane city limits, which could be a cause for concern for a Mebane City Council that has been approving neighborhoods in recent years on the condition that the developments become part of the city’s corporate limits - and part of the city’s tax base. Since the development would remain outside the Mebane city limits under the current proposal, the developer would be required to pursue addition of proposed streets for Summerhaven to the State Highway System. 

A review indicated that the streets, as configured, would be eligible for addition to the State Highway System for maintenance, subject to compliance with all requirements of the current edition of the North Carolina Department of Transportation Subdivision Roads Minimum Construction Standards publication. 

There is one exception - a proposed unnamed street within Summerhaven that terminates at the shared property line to the southwest of the development. This road would not be eligible for addition into the State Highway System because there are an insufficient number of lots to be served by the road as currently proposed. A minimum of four lots with frontage on the road are required to be part of the State Highway System. The road could be considered for a future addition upon further extension, as well as a sufficient lot count to meet the minimum requirement of four lots with frontage on the road. 

The site of the proposed Summerhaven development directly accesses N.C. Highway 119 via two proposed subdivision street connections served by right and left-hand turning lanes on N.C. 119 at each of the accesses. Based upon information provided by the developer in the proposed plans and a Traffic Impact Study that was conducted in the fall of 2018, the proposed configuration is expected to adequately accommodate the trips generated by the residential component of Summerhaven, and is expected to operate acceptably with the installation of the proposed turning lanes. 

A future school site is also being considered as part of this property’s potential development plans. The submission that was presented to the Mebane Planning Board did not provide detailed information on the proposed school. It is presumed that this private school site will be developed at a future time, yet to be determined. 

An additional Traffic Impact Analysis will be required prior to development of any school on the site in order to assess traffic operations and determine if any additional improvements will be required to ensure safe access in and around the school site. The potential site could be a possible future location for Bradford Academy, which is currently Mebane’s lone private Christian institution. 

Last November, the Mebane Planning Board approved the 224 single-family home proposal by Desco Holdings in a contested 5-2 vote. The City Council never took formal action on the proposal as it stood then, although sources suggest that town leaders balked at the many waivers and exceptions to the city’s Uniform Development Ordinance that would have been necessary to approve the neighborhood as originally proposed. Desco Holdings eventually withdrew the application in order to retool the project and make it more presentable to the City Council. 

Desco Holdings is also the developer of Cambridge Park, a 731-home development that was approved last year by the Mebane City Council. Cambridge Park could begin selling homesites at some point in the first half of 2020. The development has been undergoing extensive work over the last several months as far as clearing land and establishing infrastructure such as water lines, sewer lines, and the establishment of initial roadways.