Planning Board recommends rezoning of West Ten/Buckhorn Warehouse project

On the evening of Monday, January 11, the Mebane Planning Board approved a proposal by Al Neyer to construct two large warehouses on a property at 6016 West Ten Road in western Orange County. The Planning Board unanimously approved Al Neyer’s rezoning request. Mebane Development Director Cy Stober recapped the request, which was initially brought before the Planning Board in November and continued twice by the Planning Board in November and December for them to acquire additional feedback and information on the proposal. The proposed rezoning will now come before the Mebane City Council at its February 1 meeting. 

On the evening of Monday, January 11, the Mebane Planning Board approved a proposal by Al Neyer to construct two large warehouses on a property at 6016 West Ten Road in western Orange County. The Planning Board unanimously approved Al Neyer’s rezoning request. Mebane Development Director Cy Stober recapped the request, which was initially brought before the Planning Board in November and continued twice by the Planning Board in November and December for them to acquire additional feedback and information on the proposal.  

The parcel under discussion is approximately 46 to 47 acres, and is currently zoned by Orange County as rural residential. Al Neyer requested annexation into the Mebane city limits. The rezoning request is to make the property M-2 (light industrial conditional district). The property is currently outside the City’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, at the intersection of West Ten Road and Buckhorn Road, within approximately a half a mile from the I-40/I-85 freeway corridor at Buckhorn Road. The property is within the Buckhorn Primary Growth area. 

The request was initially presented to the Planning Board on November 14, and then on December 9 with revisions and a Traffic Impact Analysis. The Planning Board gave feedback at both meetings, specifically to receive a confirmed site plan at the December meeting. The master site plan that was provided this month provides for 100-foot buffers onsite, along with an option for a driveway on Buckhorn Road that would be restricted to “right turn in and out” only, which would discourage southbound and freight traffic coming off Buckhorn Road. 

Per North Carolina General Statutes, the applicant can revise a rezoning request upon feedback from the Planning Board, and the Planning Board has 30 days to take action - a recommendation of approval or denial to the City Council - following review of that revision. This required the Planning Board to take specific action at this meeting, which they did.

“I’d like to thank the Planning Board and staff for your time and your consideration that you’ve given us thus far throughout this process. It’s been a pleasure to work with everyone, and we genuinely appreciate it,” said Justin Parker, the local market leader for Al Neyer in the North Carolina Triangle region. “The plan is the culmination of feedback that we’ve received from a number of parties over the last few months. Most importantly, it’s the culmination of the feedback we’ve received from our neighbors off of West Ten and Buckhorn as we’ve worked through this process, and worked through this plan.” 

Parker indicated that the 100-foot buffers surrounding the property exceed the requirement of 70-foot buffers provided in Mebane’s Unified Development Ordinance, which reduces the amount of rentable square footage for the warehouses, as well as the density. Al Neyer plans to construct landscape berms, and is hiring local landscaping in creating the buffers that are aesthetically pleasing. They are providing fencing along the south of the property, while oversizing the stormwater ponds beyond the UDO requirements. 

A Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) indicates that there will be no need for significant street improvements such as traffic signals, and that this warehouse proposal will generate approximately half the anticipated traffic as the nearby Medline site, which is currently under construction. 

“We believe that this is the right use and the right plan for the site,” Parker said. “It’s an opportunity to create jobs, to increase tax revenue, thereby benefitting the entire area. We are excited about the opportunity to work with you and develop in Mebane, and look forward to being a great corporate partner, and good neighbor.” 

Tim Summerville, a Project Engineer with Stewart Engineering of Durham, indicated at the December Planning Board meeting that the proposed warehouse project would have two entrances off of West Ten Road, and a third entrance off Buckhorn Road. A gas line easement that runs near the eastern border  of the property will remain undisturbed. There is currently a used car lot on the subject property. Al Neyer made no requests for waivers from the City for its proposed warehouses.

“As far as the TIA (traffic impact analysis), as was mentioned, there is no requirements for offsite improvements,” Summerville said. “But the town staff did recommend providing right turn lanes off of West Ten (Road). We will be providing a right turn lane with adequate storage and tapers at the easternmost entrance. On the westernmost entrance on West Ten, there is not adequate right-of-way across the frontage of the existing car dealership to provide a proper right turn lane. But what we have proposed is that we will provide a quick taper, and a larger radius, so that trucks entering the site can get off the road a little quicker. It’s not a full right turn lane, but it will allow them to turn into the site easier.”

After originally indicating that a possible Buckhorn Road entrance could be implemented in the future, the applicant revised the plan to propose constructing the Buckhorn Road entrance now. Mebane City planners recommend Al Neyer construct a driveway that would restrict freight traffic from turning left into the site off of West Ten Road, which they agreed to.

“If a driveway is put on Buckhorn Road, (we recommend) that access be restricted to non-freight traffic, to restrict freight traffic from going south on Buckhorn Road,” said Stober.

“As far as the entrance on Buckhorn Road, the previous plan that we had shown was an alternate driveway location,” Summerville said. “But after meeting with the neighbors onsite, we’ve determined that we want to go ahead and just build this connection now. And as staff recommended, we are going to propose this as as “right in, right out” only. That way, trucks leaving the site can turn right on Buckhorn Road and turn straight onto the highways, and not have to cause left turns on West Ten Road.” 

“When meeting with neighbors - even before staff made the recommendation of having the Buckhorn entrance - they preferred to have that entrance be limited to a right turn out and in only. Freight traffic can leave the site, and turn right and head straight up to the highway, and not have to turn left onto West Ten. It keeps those trucks off West Ten. By making it right in and right out, trucks cannot come south onto Buckhorn to turn left into the site. It won’t cause any issues with trucks turning left onto Buckhorn. We’re not proposing to limit it to non-freight traffic, but it will be allowed in only one direction.” 

“The concern from staff on the Buckhorn Road driveway was freight traffic going south on Buckhorn Road. By being a “right in, right out,” that would require all traffic on the driveway to go north. They’ve addressed our concern,” Stober added. 

The property in question lies within the Falls Lake Nutrient Sensitive Watershed - which will require onsite nutrient management of nitrogen and phosphorus. It is also in the Upper Eno River Supply (II)  Watershed, which has specific impervious surface requirements, meaning that only so much of the property can be filled with impervious surfaces such as concrete walkways, parking lots, and the footprints of the building themselves, which do not allow moisture to seep into the ground.

“Each parcel would have stormwater ponds, adjacent to the stream buffer, to meet nutrient requirements, as well as the peak flow,” Summerville said. “As we know, there is a stream, and many residents that live back there. The last thing we want to do is put too much water back there. These ponds will be designed to detain the water to what is currently running there today.”

Summerville added that the developer of the warehouse buildings doesn’t have a specific use or tenant yet, but that it would be promoting economic development in the area, providing an opportunity for warehouse space for local businesses. 

Although there were numerous public comments from nearby neighbors in opposition to the project - many from the same folks who opposed the project in the November and December sessions - the Planning Board members noted that Al Neyer went above and beyond to try and accommodate the City and the concerns from the community prior to its vote to approve the project. 

“I just wanted to thank the public for all their input. Everyone that took the time to research this and talk and give us their concerns and comments. I think we’ve made this plan better because of it,” said Planning Board member Kurt Pearson, who made the formal motion to approve the rezoning. “I want to thank Justin and his whole team as well. I think you’ve listened to the people. You’ve been really open, from what I can tell. It’s a better plan than the first one we got. Thanks for putting up with us for two months. I think we need to act.” 

The plan will now go before the Mebane City Council at its February 1 meeting at 6:00 p.m. for consideration. It is a public hearing, so notifications will be mailed out to all residents within 300 feet of the subject property.