Wednesday, 11 October 2017 08:30

‘Vision for the region’ subject of three-day charrette

Written by  Lee Sullivan
‘Vision for the region’ subject of three-day charrette Courtesy Town of Huntersville

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- The development prospects for a sizable chunk of the southeastern edge of Huntersville will be the subject of an open-to-the-public, three-day, information-sharing and input-seeking event next week at Huntersville Town Hall.

From Tuesday, Oct. 17, to Thursday, Oct. 19, individuals will have the opportunity to view proposals, gather details, ask questions and submit ideas concerning multiple aspects of a multi-faceted proposal that could transform up to 475 acres of mostly vacant land into a comprehensive senior living community.

An extended charrette and design workshop, with drop in opportunities available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday, will be held next week at Huntersville Town Hall.

The charrette — a term borrowed from the architecture profession that has been adopted to describe efforts geared toward intense planning and design — is being coordinated and hosted by the Town of Huntersville, the Bowman Development Group and the Bayard Group development firm. The primary goal of the event will be to provide information and encourage discussions about plans to establish a residential community for seniors surrounding a small village as part of a master-planned development that would involve changes to existing land use and transportation visions.

The acreage involved, south and west of Huntersville-Concord Road bordering Metrolina Greenhouses and sections of the Skybrook development, has long been referenced as the “Bradford property” and is anchored by the 217-acre Bradford Farm and adjacent parcels owned by the Bradford family. The information sessions are being described as an introduction for a potential “Clark Creek Small Area Plan” in reference to the stream that meanders through a big portion of the property and as an indication of the size of the area involved.

The charrette — as well as the “small area plan” label — for the project, according to Huntersville Planning Director Jack Simoneau, stem from the nature and vast scope of the proposed venture and the related changes it would generate in overall expectations for development in that area. Simoneau added that the goal for next week’s sessions is to distribute as much information, and gather as much feedback, as possible.

“The charrette,” Simoneau explained, “is designed to provide details and to ask the community’s residents, election officials and planning board members to consider and decide if they want to pursue a different approach to developing this area.”

Currently, most of the acreage involved is zoned for — and envisioned on long-range town plans as the future site of — rural residential development. The proposed concept for a senior living community, introduced by Huntersville developer Nate Bowman of the Bowman Development Group at a Huntersville Town Board session early last month, would involve a more dense form of development (more residential units per acre than currently allowed) but would also unite hundreds of acres, and the roads through those acres, into one unified project.

“There are multiple factors to consider,” Simoneau said. “There is the possibility of a changed vision for the area from a low-intensity development, in terms of residential units per acre, into a carefully planned higher-intensity district, and the possibility that established transportation plans could be changed.”

The most notable roadway adjustment could involve the realignment of parts of a long-planned Prosperity Church Road thoroughfare, a regional transportation project that would (at some as-yet undetermined time in the future) create a north-south alternative to N.C. 115, U.S. 21 and I-77 and eventually link the southern edge of Huntersville to the north side of Mooresville.

Simoneau said tweaking the proposed path of that road inside existing tracts of property would not require major adjustments, but changes that would impact the roadway route across multiple parcels could be “a huge deal” requiring the intense research, reconsideration and review that would accompany regional planning organization involvement.

“There are lots of issues to consider and that’s why the developers and the town agreed that conducting the charrette was the proper approach,” Simoneau said.

“This proposal, this idea for what the property could become, may play a giant role in determining what will happen in that entire area,” he added. “This is not just about one individual project, but an introduction to a different vision for the region.”

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