The Mebane City Council approved the rezoning and annexation of three properties along Ben Wilson Road during their September meeting. These properties will be developed into another set of Meadowstone Townhomes along the east side of the road.
The three properties, totaling roughly 25 acres in size, are in Orange County outside the Mebane Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). Therefore, the City of Mebane will annex them into the city.
Historically, the properties and those surrounding them have been used for large single-family residential and farming purposes.
Meadowstone Townhomes will be a part of The Meadows network and will be directly across the street from a set of additional, in-progress Meadowstone Townhomes. The complex is located near The Meadows, Collington Farms and the future Bowman Village, as well.
The newly approved complex will be built in three phases, with the units on the northern end built in the first two phases and those on the southern end built in the final phase. The amenities and recreation area, on the northwest end, will be built during phase one.
The new complex will have 147 townhomes, each with a garage. Buildings within the complex will house either thee, four, five or six units.
The larger plot of townhomes is on the north end of the complex, while the smaller plot is located at its south end, with Haw Creek flowing through the middle.
A multi-use path will run throughout the complex and is intended to connect all phases on both sides of Ben Wilson Road. The path will also feature a bridge that crosses Haw Creek. This path will be an upgrade from previous multi-use paths in that it will be an asphalt paved trail with a stone base.
Two stormwater management ponds, on the northern and southern ends of the property, are to be built for the complex. Additionally, natural buffers will be built along the east end of the complex, along Ben Wilson Road to its west and along Bowman Road to its south.
The townhome complex will have four access points: three on Ben Wilson Road and one on Bowman Road. A traffic impact analysis (TIA) was conducted for the project in July 2020 and was updated in June 2021. The study found only turn lanes into the complex off Ben Wilson Road are needed to be built.
The developer requested four waivers for the project, concerning setback distances and size of the project.
Tim Smith, senior project manager for Summit Design and Engineering Services of Hillsborough, who presented the project on behalf of developer Ben Wilson Road LLC, said these waiver requests are the same as other setback and size waiver requests for other similar townhome projects.
Smith also told the council the project has cut back on the number of units in the complex after the Mebane Planning Board voiced concerns over density.
Originally, the developer requested 162 units for the complex; now, the plan is for 147 units. The 15 units have been replaced by additional visitor’s parking for a total of 379 parking spaces.
“Each townhome unit has its own parking, two spaces for each unit, but now we've also added, at different locations throughout the site, various parking areas that are off the street at various locations to provide parking for visitors that come to see [residents],” Smith said. “So, we wouldn't have congestion of folks trying to park on the street or additional cars in these driveways.”
Councilmember Everette Greene asked Smith if a pool was considered for this complex. Smith said it was not, citing space constraints.
Councilmember Patty Philipps asked Smith about the connectivity of the new development to the in-progress development across Ben Wilson Road. In the plans, the crosswalk that crosses Ben Wilson Road to Campaign Drive does not align with the multi-use path.
Smith said the path does not align directly across the street but connects via sidewalk on the east side of the road. The plans call for a sidewalk starting where the multi-use path begins and running north to the northern boundary of the development. A sidewalk will not run south of the path to the intersection of Ben Wilson and Bowman Roads.
Councilmember Sean Ewing asked about the possibility of an additional crosswalk south of the planned one, that would connect phase three of the project and McDowell Drive. Smith responded.
“We, early on in the process, did have a second crossing there at that road location, as well,” he said. “Going through the technical review committee (TRC) review process with staff, and with NCDOT, it was recommended that we remove that crosswalk location and just keep the one.”
Ewing followed up and said he didn’t think it was reasonable to expect folks on the southern end of the complex to go out of their way to use the crosswalk. Smith said the developer is not opposed to looking into a second crosswalk and reviewing it with Mebane staff and NCDOT again.
Philipps echoed Ewing’s sentiment, expressing concern about pedestrian safety on the southern end of the development near Bowman Road.
“My concern is just that if there'll be safe pedestrian access all the way from Bowman Road to the north end of development on one side or both sides of the street and, if there is a connection, that there is a crossing at the place where it goes from one side of the street to the other side of the street,” Philipps said. “Is that a condition you are anticipating?”
Smith said that was a common point of discussion during the TRC process, and the reasoning for building only one crosswalk was that one high-visible crosswalk would be better than two crosswalks with only a small distance between them. However, he reiterated the developer is not against possibly building an additional one.
Greene asked Mebane City Engineer Franz Holt what the NCDOT’s rationale on building just one crosswalk was.
Holt, like Smith, said there was a lot of discussion about it, but wasn’t quite sure if one crosswalk was preferred due to a site distance issue with the planned spot or what.
The lack of crosswalk between Ben Wilson and McDowell is why the sidewalk south of the multi-use path, along Ben Wilson, was dropped, Holt said. He also shared the original crosswalk plan for the project.
“They were trying to focus one crossing down in the bottom and have properly sized, properly lit,” he said. “But, again, people are creatures of habit in nature, and they tend to walk where they want to walk and do what they want to do. So, taking a fresh look at that is probably a good idea.”
Holt noted that, along with the developer, the City of Mebane can ask the NCDOT to reconsider allowing a second crosswalk between phase three and McDowell Drive to be built.
fPhilipps then asked if the documents given to the council, which stated the multi-use path will be in the city right-of-way and be publicly maintained with a payment in lieu given if that’s not possible, were correct.
Smith said the developer is proposing to dedicate the path to be a public amenity if the city accepts, and a payment in lieu would be given for the remaining deficit of the public space required.
Greene responded, “So, then that would be maintained by the city?” Smith said that is correct.
Philipps then asked City Manager Chris Rollins if the city is doing this in other subdivisions with multi-use paths.
Rollins said, in The Meadows agreement, the plan was the developer build the multi-use path and tie it into the existing sidewalk network and the homeowner’s association would maintain the path until it connected to a bigger, community multi-use path.
Smith noted the plan for the path at these townhomes is like that of The Meadows.
City Attorney Lawson Brown said they will make sure that’s what happens with this complex, and the city will perform inspections to ensure it’s in good condition prior to taking it over.
Mayor Hooks then invited members of the public to speak about the project. First up was Carolyn Wilson, who lives near the site and asked if the fence that’s to be built six inches from the northern property line will damage her trees.
Smith answered, “I don't think that the proposed fence that's going to be installed as part of the integrated buffer would cause any harm to those trees, I think it will be planted far away from the root zone of those trees on that line.”
Nearby resident Keith Jeffers spoke next, asking about nearby stoplights and how that would affect traffic congestion in the area. “I just noticed in a couple of communities where there's an amount large apartments, there are a few lights and people are congested and going in and out of there. It's difficult, especially, when you have school kids, to take kids to school and get to work on time.”
Mebane Planning Director Cy Stober responded, and said, currently, the nearest stoplight is roughly a mile away, noting the new stoplight at Mebane Oaks-Old Hillsborough should be effective in relieving any additional traffic congestion.
The public hearing was then closed and the council delivered a decision. Philipps made motions to, first, annex and, second, rezone the three properties, Auditori and Ewing seconded these motions, respectively. Both motions passed unanimously.