NEW HANOVER COUNTY — The Myrtle Grove area could see over 100 new townhomes added to the market next year. Nearby neighbors aren’t convinced the multi-family housing project, proposed by James Yopp, won’t cause more problems.
Yopp’s latest project comes on the heels of two other developments proposed on Carolina Beach Road in the last month, each bringing an additional 300 residences to the county. The developer is behind one: a Tarin Woods subdivision on Carolina Beach Road. The other is being proposed by Boca Raton-based Impeccable Development.
The Myrtle Grove development would be located on two parcels at 6900 and 6904 Carolina Beach Road. The land’s total acreage spans almost 35 acres, although only a small portion will be used for the project, which also includes a 6,000-square-foot storage facility.
According to preliminary designs, the commercial storage facility would front Carolina Beach Road. Behind that, there would be a 36-unit building and five 18-unit buildings to bring the total townhome offering to 126. The townhomes would range from two to three bedrooms, 1,000 to 1,400 square feet each.
Each building would most likely be three floors, standing no more than 35 feet high to meet height restrictions. However, a height variance request to 45 feet with increased setbacks is not being ruled out, according to Yopp.
He hosted a community meeting with residents affected by the development on Thursday night. A requirement prior to the submission of plans to New Hanover County’s technical review committee, Yopp used the meeting to provide more details on the project, but didn’t make it far into his presentation before being interrupted by the crowd of 20 voicing their concerns.
Protests mostly stemmed from traffic concerns, with multiple attendees exclaiming it was hard enough to navigate onto Carolina Beach Road from connecting streets without the development. The site’s access point will be off Carolina Beach Road between Southern Charm and McQuillan drives. Another potential point could extend from a stub road off Southern Charm Drive, but the developers would need to discuss right-of-way access and improvements with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Yopp explained a traffic study was done on the site’s access point, finding the daily average of the trip total was 883. He said because the trips did not exceed 1,000 per day, a full traffic impact analysis would not be required to submit the plans to the county planning board. The developer’s additions include building a deceleration lane on Carolina Beach Road for drivers turning into the development.
The neighbors turned their attention to other potentially negative impacts from the influx of neighbors. One area resident, David Lowe, was worried about the buffer between the mult-family housing and adjacent neighborhoods, include the single-family subdivision called Southern Charm and another single-family home.
“I don’t think that a 25 or 30 foot buffer zone is enough; it needs to be at least 50 feet,” Lowe said. “I will say that again at the February 2 planning board meeting.”
Yopp said the goal is to retain as many trees along the property boundaries as possible.
“If not, we’ll do additional plantings as well,” he said during the meeting.
Still, many in the audience expressed concerns over their property values, noting they were told by their property’s salespeople the land would always remain wooded.
Yopp said under the land’s current or office and institutional zoning, the property is billed for a boat and RV storage facility. He is seeking a rezoning to include multi-family low-density residential — which stipulates a max 10 unit per acre — to help alleviate the county’s housing shortage. According to the New Hanover County comprehensive land plan, smaller parcels on infill properties, like this one, should be used for higher-density housing projects.
Yopp said, like or not, New Hanover County is continuing to grow and housing of all types is needed to accommodate more people.
“It’s never going to be Myrtle Beach, but this is a destination,” Yopp said. “And where we are, there’s not that much available.”
The developers are also discussing dedicating around 10 to 15 units to affordable housing, though the idea was not set in stone.
“Diversification in the county is good,” Yopp said.
Still, attendees at Thursday’s community meeting intend to voice their concerns to the county planning board and commissioners next year with one message: “We like the woods, we dislike the project and we’d appreciate it if you’d leave it alone.”
Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at firstname.lastname@example.org