Stonecrest townhome project gets recommendation despite resident complaints

This is a rendering of a townhome project that could come to Stonecrest.
Caption
This is a rendering of a townhome project that could come to Stonecrest.

Credit: City of Stonecrest

A second townhome project was also recently pitched to the city

A project poised to bring dozens of new townhomes to Stonecrest moved forward this week despite traffic and density concerns from several neighbors.

The Stonecrest Planning Commission recommended approval for Apex Land Company’s 65-townhome project at its Tuesday meeting. Following pushback from residents, the developer reduced the size of the project by 11 townhomes, but neighbors still were not pleased.

Several people spoke during the meeting to voice their opposition to the development, which would transform a 9.6-acre plot along Panola and Thompson Mill roads. A second townhome project was also discussed during the meeting, setting up a second round of debate between residents and the city’s development staff.

“You all are approving everything, but you’re not taking into consideration how the neighborhood feels,” resident Toni Marks told the planning commission. The five-member commission doesn’t approve rezoning requests, but they do make recommendations for the City Council to consider.

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Attorney Michele Battle represents the applicants for both townhome projects. She mentioned that both sites are currently zoned for more dense developments which would create more traffic than her clients’ townhome developments.

Roughly half of the Panola/Thompson Mill site was rezoned in 2008 for a shopping center that never came to fruition. Battle previously implied there isn’t market support for a retail center in that area of Stonecrest.

Apex’s project consists of two- to three-bedroom units that vary between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet. The buildings will be two stories and include a garage. Battle said the townhomes will likely sell in the upper $200,000s, and the developer will impose a mandatory homeowner’s association to oversee maintenance.

The planning commission first discussed the project last month but delayed making a decision to give Apex time to conduct a traffic study and meet again with residents. The company did hold another public town hall but decided to shrink the size of the project rather than conduct a traffic study.

“This is a very green site,” Battle said, adding that more than half of the development will be open space.

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The planning commission voted 4-1 to recommend approval for the project. Commissioner Cheryl Moore-Mathis was the lone dissenter; she didn’t think the townhomes would add value to the area.

The second townhome project discussed during the meeting would bring 73 homes to 4700 Browns Mill Road, which is owned by Ray of Hope Christian Church Disciples of Christ. The property, which has been undeveloped since 2005, is currently zoned for 112 apartments for senior housing.

The project also has the blessing of city staff, which prompted Commissioner Joyce Walker to question why Stonecrest is attracting so many townhome projects.

“Clearly right now with the housing shortage that’s been going on, townhomes must be the sweet spot in terms of residential development,” Planning Director Jim Summerbell said. “... Right now, it is just market driven.”

Nearly a dozen residents spoke in opposition during the meeting, primarily about traffic and stormwater concerns. The planning commission unanimously decided to defer the project to its October meeting to give the church time to meet with residents and hear their concerns.

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