Hampstead — Plans to build out 54 additional home lots in the future Carolina Creek subdivision in Hampstead must wait until February for approval.
After Pender County planners recommended a denial of the development plan, labeled the Carolina Creek Extension, the Planning Board on Tuesday voted to table the request until February.
RELATED: Planned Carolina Creek subdivision will add nearly 200 homes to Hampstead
Planners made the recommendation citing its conflict with the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which encourages clustered development in key locations while preserving the low-density character of other areas to preserve the rural heritage and coastal habitat of the county.
The property sits between Highway 17 and the Intracoastal Waterway along Country Club Road. It is divided into two overall phases: Carolina Creek followed by Carolina Creek Extension, totaling 191 homes. When built out it is expected to add a daily average of 1,868 vehicle trips.
Planning staff recommended certain conditions to be added to the plans if the board ultimately approves the application from Wilmington-based Bill Clark Homes. First, the future Coburn Court would need to be a dedicated public right-of-way in anticipation of future development and to establish a future public roadway connection between another subdivision street and Transfer Station Road to the north, which connects to Highway 17.
Second, it must follow certain conditions of the original Carolina Creek master development plan — 135 lots first approved by planning staff in August 2018 — including a minimum 10-foot separation between homes and signage placed near wetlands that exist on the property.
Revisions to the original Carolina Creek master plan — replacing a planned cul-de-sac with a road connecting the main portion of the development to Carolina Creek Extension — were approved Tuesday. Although it also conflicted with the same “focused growth” policy of the land use plan that encourages clustered development, and exceeded density requirements of its future Low Density Residential future land use classification, planning staff recommended approval due the new plan’s increased connectivity.
The land currently sits in a Planned Development zoning district, designed to provide “alternatives to conventional development,” according to a planning staff report, and allow projects of “innovative design and layout that would not otherwise be permitted … because of the strict application of the zoning district or general development standards.”
The state’s fourth-fastest growing county continues to approve development projects, overwhelmingly in the east. Last summer Commissioner David Williams said all but two of the 1,700 homes and businesses approved at the time were in the Topsail Township area, which encompasses the county’s entire coastal region.
The project will add a significant amount of traffic to an increasingly congested coastal corridor along Highway 17. Traffic analysis of the entire project — which includes Carolina Creek (82 acres, 135 homes) and Carolina Creek Extension (27 acres, 54 homes) — reveals an increase in daily traffic volume of 1,868 trips. This would include 104 vehicles exiting the property at the morning peak hour and 118 entering at the evening peak hour.
Preservation of central wetlands
More than 36 acres of wooded wetlands make up the 109 acres of the development, but proposed designs show developmental impact of those wetlands at just over 1 percent.
The developer’s planned preservation of the wetlands as open space falls within the project’s compliance with the Planned Development district.
“In return for greater flexibility in site design requirements, planned developments are expected to deliver exceptional quality community designs that preserve critical environmental resources, provide above-average open space amenities, incorporate creative design in the layout buildings, open space and circulation; assure compatibility with surrounding land uses and neighborhood character; and provide greater efficiency in the layout and provision of roads, utilities, and other infrastructure,” according to the planning staff report.
In a project narrative submitted by Paramount Engineering in mid-September, the firm said the project had been designed to “accentuate yet preserve the large wetland pocket in the center of the site.”
“In fact, the developer is leaving a large percentage of the site (37 acres) as open space, undeveloped uplands, or undisturbed wetlands,” according to the narrative.
In addition to providing natural views to many of the homesites, the developer also plans to use the wetlands as a bonus stormwater filter and storage facility, allowing natural drainage patterns to remain intact while providing large, contiguous low points that can help store water during heavy rainfall, according to the narrative.
Homes in Carolina Creek will be supplied by county water while piping out wastewater privately through Pluris.
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com or (970) 413-3815