CLAYTON — The Town Council on Monday cleared the way for 288 luxury apartments on Shotwell Road near U.S. 70 Business.
At their last meeting, in November, councilmen had tabled the rezoning request, saying they were concerned about traffic the apartments would generate on a busy road. That section of Shotwell is home to a distribution center that includes Coca-Cola. A Bojangles and BP station are nearby on U.S. 70 Business.
But on Monday, the council said yes to The Promenade, which will offer its residents a pool, dog park and play area for children.
Mayor Jody McLeod pointed to what he saw as the project’s pros and cons. “I would want to live there because it has all these great amenities,” he said. “But I would have to think twice about whether it would be worth the traffic problem to get home.”
The council approved the rezoning request after hearing from a traffic engineer and reviewing a traffic study by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
The traffic engineer said the apartment complex would generate fewer cars than a commercial use. Before Monday’s council action, the land was zoned for commercial use. And before the recession, according to the town, Lowe’s had expressed interest in building one of its home-improvement stores there.
Councilman Michael Grannis asked about logistics. Many of the apartment residents will no doubt commute to Raleigh for their jobs. That means each day after work, they will be trying to turn left from U.S. 70 Business onto Shotwell Road. That could create some backups in the left-turn lane.
The developer, Caviness and Cates, agreed to work with the town to control traffic flow.
According to the traffic study, the apartments will account for 3 percent of traffic at the intersection.
The land on Shotwell Road is desirable because of its proximity to heavily traveled U.S. 70 Business. And on Monday, Sparky Cullen of Elphwick Properties asked the council to delay action on rezoning The Promenade property for residential use.
Elphwick Properties owns 22 acres next to the 22-acre Promenade tract. The company would like to use its land for a store, such as Lowe’s or Harris Teeter.
That idea was more viable when the land next door was also zoned for commercial use, Cullen said. For customer traffic, a Lowe’s or Harris Teeter would benefit from having other stores as neighbors, he said.
Now, Elphwick is going to have to change its plans for the land, Cullens said. “We probably wouldn’t have purchased the land if we’d known the property would be changed to residential,” he told the council.
Elphwick purchased the land last December. The company learned in March that the owners of the land next door were considering building apartments. Elphwick asked the owners to swap pieces of land so that Elphwick’s piece would be closer to the highway.
But Caviness and Cates said no because it also wanted to be close to U.S. 70 Business.