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Site plan for the New Beginnings residential subdivision that was approved by New Hanover County Commissioners Monday.
Site plan for the New Beginnings residential subdivision that was approved by New Hanover County Commissioners Monday.

Another residential subdivision just north of the intersection of Blue Clay Road and Kerr Avenue in Wrightsboro has been approved by New Hanover County Commissioners.

On Monday the board approved a rezoning request by New Beginning Christian, owners of the 14-acre tract at 2900 Blue Clay Road, and their representative, Cindee Wolf of Design Solutions, to turn it from an R-20 Residential District to a denser R-10 Conditional Residential District. The development will have 46 single-family units on the land for an average of 3.3 units per acre, which Wolf said is “medium density.”

R-20 zones have lower density, with a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet for a single-family home and 35,000 square feet for a duplex under conventional regulations. In the denser R-10 zone, the minimum size for a single-family lot is typically 10,000 square feet and 15,000 square feet for a duplex. Performance residential subdivisions, which let developers deviate from standard dimensions without going over the density limit, allow for a maximum of 3.3 units per acre (an average of 13,200 square feet per unit) in an R-10 district compared to 1.9 units per acre (22,926 square feet per unit) in R-20.

“The county is ripe right now for single-family homes,” said Wolf. “Interest rates are low, and starter homes are a real plus for people in the advantage of trying to move into the ‘American dream’.”

Commissioner Rob Zapple asked whether price points had been set yet for the homes in light of the affordable housing crisis that community leaders are trying to address.

“There are slightly smaller lots than Rachel’s Place, which gives the opportunity for different price points,” said Wolf, referring to a residential subdivision approved a few months ago that lies directly to the south of New Beginnings. “At this point this is proposed as a standard residential community,” meaning the homes would be built for market value rather than specifically geared toward lower incomes.

Wolf said prices have not yet been set for homes. Combined, New Beginnings and Rachel’s Place would add 200 new homes to the area on a total of just over 60 acres. Both were proposed as performance residential areas.

While none of the commissioners had any objections to the subdivision, there were some questions about connectivity. The developers included road connections to Alex Trask Drive and Blue Clay Road as well as to Rachel’s Place (which they will also be developing) to the south and Galway Road to the north, which leads to the older subdivisions of Ivy Woods and Runnymeade. However, unlike the other roads, Galway Road is maintained by residents instead of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and while county rules for residential areas require connectivity, there were concerns about the wear and tear more traffic would cause on the street.

Wolf said the developers are willing to build the connecting road and include it in their construction costs, but would not help with the maintenance of the older part, as they would not legally be required to do so.

“We certainly are willing to make that connection over the culvert. We felt it was important … to acknowledge the importance of that connectivity,” Wolf said. “The Galway Road that exists right now would [continue to] be the responsibility of the current homeowners … There are some issues, but I’ve been on Galway and it’s passable, and it’s 25 to 30 years old.”

According to the county’s current planner Brad Schuler, the homeowners on the older part of Galway Road that exists now could petition the state DOT to take over maintenance, but they would have to bring it up to current code, which would cost approximately $30,000 to $40,000. The newer part would be built up to standard and be maintained, along with the rest of the roads on the property, by the NCDOT.

Commissioner Woody White said he supported both the project and of connectivity to other neighborhoods, but said maybe the county should consider giving a waiver for that one road to lessen the burden on established residents.

“In common sense terms it doesn’t make sense to me to make Galway residents, whether it’s one car a day or a month, to have other people use that road without chipping in,” White said. “[But] I don’t want to set a precedent that we not encourage connectivity.

“It just seems to me that would take away some of the objection and unfairness to residents on Galway. It just makes common sense to me,” White added. “But I guess we all use roads that we don’t pay for at some point. I’m in support of the project; I’m not trying to mess it up.”

In the end, commissioners approved by a motion by Zapple to approve the project, including the connector to Galway, by a 4 – 0 count. Commissioner Skip Watkins was given an excused absence from the meeting due to a family illness.

Developers for a different project, an 88-unit apartment complex on College Road near Laney High School, asked that their public hearing be moved to a later date so it could be presented before the full board. Vice Chair Jonathan Barfield Jr. made a motion to move the public hearing to the board’s May 2 meeting. That was also approved unanimously.