Residents in the Ballantyne area are ready to fight a rezoning petition. Developers want to redevelop 36 acres of land located across the street from Ardrey Kell High School.
Ardrey Kell High School has more than 3,000 students. The plan calls for 245 units consisting of homes and town homes. Neighbors fear those homes could decrease their quality of life and increase attendance rolls at nearby schools and traffic on neighborhood roads.
"It’s so overcrowded in that area and I don’t know where they are going to fit all these people and children," neighbor Kristin McCabe said.
McCabe received notification that the proposed development could happen very close to her property.
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"It’s like they keep bringing in more people and more housing," she said.
"But they don’t make anything else bigger. They don’t add police. They don’t add fire. They don’t add larger schools. There has to be a give and take," she added.
Collin Brown represents the developer. He says the developer met with neighbors about this development and is already addressing neighbors’ concerns.
"Traffic is a major concern," the developer’s Attorney Collin Brown said. "We have some ideas of some things that can be done through this process, and so we are hopeful we can have a good back and forth with the community."
The piece of property is already zoned for residential. Right now three homes per acre can be built. If the rezoning petition is granted that would increase it to about six homes per acre.
"We believe the rezoning plans that we are putting forward will not significantly increase traffic or student output versus a development that could be developed under the existing zoning," Brown said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District will have to comment on the proposed development as well as Department of Solid Waste Service, the Fire Department, and others. A decision won’t be made until early next year.
Neighbors believe this petition should cause leaders to slow things down to learn how to grow smart.
"A lot of times with Charlotte growing so rapidly we look at things after the fact – after there has been an accident – after there has been a problem," Ballantyne resident Heather Pessoa said.
At a community meeting Wednesday night, residents took an opportunity to voice their concerns face to face with developer representatives.
“I just don’t see how dropping that many more vehicles onto that road is beneficial to anyone who lives in the area,” Dwayne Meekins.
Hands raised and tensions high, it was a packed house at that meeting.
“It’s very healthy for the city,” councilman Ed Driggs said there. “You don’t want to discourage growth, but you do need to support it.”
Driggs came Wednesday to listen, but stepped in after talk of traffic congestion struck a chord for much of the crowd. He says it has been tough to get the funds to fix infrastructure in this area of the city.
“This district pays 25 percent of the residential property tax in all Charlotte, and gets just about nothing back in capital spending,” he said. “And I think there’s a middle ground where we help to fund the needs elsewhere but we also get things taken care of here.”
This will be one of several meetings of its kind with the developer and its representatives. They say they are open to making adjustments to the plan after community feedback.
This is the beginning of a long process for this developer. In addition to community meetings, they will also have to get feedback from 13 city departments.