City of Sanford Approves Annexation of New Residential Development

Residents protest Cool Springs development
By Jasmine Gallup [email protected]

An ongoing debate about residential development in Sanford drew state Rep. John Sauls to a city council meeting Tuesday, to argue against the construction of a new neighborhood near his home.

Sauls, who lives in Sanford’s Westlake Downs neighborhood, was among dozens of other residents concerned about the impact the development, Glen at Cool Springs, would have on traffic, property values and the character of the area.

If approved, the neighborhood would consist of 131 new houses west of Cool Springs Road between Southern Road and Wellington Drive, according to plans. Unlike the nearby neighborhoods Westlake Downs and Brownstone Village, the Glen at Cool Springs would have smaller lots with less green space.

Sauls said his primary concern about the development was the impact it would have on traffic through Cambridge Drive, which would become an entrance to the neighborhood. Sauls said he would support the development if that point was addressed.

“I can live with it, but I do not support the disruption of Cambridge Drive,” he said.

Other residents expressed stronger concerns, saying they were against the project in its entirety. Although many people claimed to support new development and growth in the city, they approached the podium one by one to implore city council members to vote against the Glen at Cool Springs.

“It is going to create much-increased traffic which will impact kids playing in the neighborhood, people walking, riding their bikes,” said Marilyn Novosel, who has lived on Cambridge Drive for 28 years.

“I know to a lot of people, Cambridge Drive is just a stub road, a dot on the map. To us, it’s where we live. To our neighbors in Westlake Downs, it’s part of our home and our neighborhood.”

The argument against new development is one that has been repeated time and again. In the past two years, the city council has heard dozens of requests from developers to annex and rezone land for new neighborhoods. Interest increased when the city landed large commercial projects like the Pfizer expansion and Bharat Forge’s new plant.

Efforts to create new neighborhoods to keep up with expected population growth, however, have been met with widespread opposition from current residents.

On Tuesday, longtime Sanford resident Tom Wilder said that one of the things he loves most about Sanford is that it is a city where people can buy a home, with land, at a good price.

“We’re proud of that fact,” Wilder said. “Here in Sanford, we have land and we love the land. But high density is coming and it is a trend. Ask your friends in Apex and Cary about it. A lot of them have moved here to get away from it and we don’t want to reproduce some of the mistakes that they’ve made.”

In an effort to address the concerns of residents, developer Daniel Koeller requested the city approve zoning that goes beyond the minimum legal requirements. Each lot would be a minimum of 75 feet wide and have a 30-foot setback in the front, Koeller said. He added that he is willing to work with the city to install curbs and gutters in the neighborhood and create a buffer of trees around the site.

Koeller’s did little to appease 70 residents who signed a petition requesting the city council deny his annexation and rezoning requests.

Addressing the city council, Sanford resident Phil Checketts said, “You can tell us it’s good for the city, it’s what other cities are doing and we should follow. We are not sheep.

“We know what we want. We know why we bought here, we know why we moved here and we know why we live here. Tonight, myself and everyone else here is gonna urge you do the right thing, represent us, and vote no on the annexation.”

Contrary to Checketts’ wishes, the city council approved Koeller’s request for annexation, the first step toward development, with only councilman Chas Post voting against. The rezoning request will be voted on in February.

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Published by Angie Hedgepeth

Angie Hedgepeth, Government Affairs Director for the Association, attends all the local meetings each month, as well as NAR and NCAR meetings, and keeps members abreast of the multiple issues being addressed in local, state and national government. She prepares reports on the meetings she attends and they are included in the weekly "Government Affairs Update".