Large housing, commercial project gets OK from planners

Apr. 27, 2013 @ 03:00 PM

Plans to develop a large tract with new housing and commercial space have cleared one phase of the city’s review process.
The Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday recommended approval of a request by Jemsite Development LLC of Jefferson to rezone about 65 acres at Greensboro and Penny Roads to allow for up to 280 single-family and multifamily housing units on the site.
The outline for the development, dubbed Wrenn Farm, would allow commercial uses, such as convenience stores and drive-through restaurants, on the portion of the site that fronts Greensboro Road between Manor Drive and Flowers Baking Co.
The southern half of the site could accommodate 94 single-family homes.
“I think most of you know there are not many tracts of this size left to be developed in High Point,” Tom Terrell, a local attorney representing Jemsite, told the commission.
In 2006, a different developer won approval for a similar proposal that never moved forward. The new proposal includes more commercial acreage and a smaller multifamily area than the initial plan.
The project would include extending Penny Road through the development to North Scientific Street. The timing of when the extension would be required was a point of contention between the developers and city transportation officials, who proposed that the extension be mandated once the development generates 60 percent of the 9,758 daily vehicle trips that are projected at the site.
City Traffic Operations Engineer Matt Carpenter said this threshold could be reached once the commercial development on the site is complete.
“We’re saying that, you develop a gas station, pharmacy, drive-in bank and fast-food restaurant up here, that puts an undue amount of pressure on that intersection,” said Carpenter. “At that point, (extending) Penny Road would provide that relief valve.”
Jemsite representatives said they would prefer to wait until 50 residential lots were developed before the requirement kicked in, and the commission agreed, making this the requirement instead of the 60 percent threshold.
“I see, from the development standpoint, the cost of trying to extend Penny Road that far without selling lots. I think that’s asking a lot for the developer to do,” said Commissioner John McKenzie.
Jemsite representatives said they think 50 residential lots will develop quickly.
“We are actively working on both the residential and the commercial and, as a developer, you want both of those to happen. Simultaneous is ideal. That’s what we’re working towards, and that’s our goal,” said Doug Spell, senior project manager.
The commission unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning request, which will be heard by the City Council May 20.
“I love the location. It’s definitely needed in the area,” said Commissioner Cynthia Davis.