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Zebulon approves Hughley Road project

By Kay S. Pedrotti A unanimous vote last week of Zebulon city council approved a settlement and development agreement, including a revised conceptual plan, for a controversial residential development on Hughley Road. Possibilities for the development have been discussed by the property owners and the city since 1999, said Newton Galloway, attorney for development company Brent Pike. Recently groups of citizens led by former Mayor Bobby Blalock have protested the development at several council meetings. There were more than 35 citizens at the Aug. 12 meeting but only Blalock, Betty Hatchett and Lynda Lynch spoke during the comment period. Before the vote, Galloway made a presentation countering some claims made by opponents, distributing a document to council showing a comprehensive timeline and previous actions by Zebulon. Galloway said a 2004 change in density allowed in a planned residential development (PRD) did not apply to the Hughley Road property; operation under previous wording had been confirmed by action of city council. At the original density allowed, he said, developers could have built eight homes to an acre, ‘assuming every bit of the land is buildable, which it isn’t.’ This would have meant more than 2,000 homes in 335 acres. In each conditional approval by Zebulon through the years, the number of single-family and multi-family residential units has steadily decreased. The concept plan approved last week ‘“ subject to additional approvals of actual development plans such as sewerage, storm drainage, roads and minimum home square footage ‘“ calls for 450 residences, the attorney said. A lawsuit has been pending since 2009 asserting the developers’ rights, delayed by court action to allow more negotiations between the city and Brent Pike. Galloway said if the settlement and development agreement with the new revised conceptual plan was not accepted the lawsuit would become active again. ’We believe the settlement and development agreement including the plan for a reduction in housing units is a reasonable compromise,’ Galloway said. Mayor Mike Beres has said there will be many more actions to come to the council before any actual building occurs. Opponents’ comments Former mayor Blalock said the development had been ‘stagnant’ and should operate under the code revision in which ‘there are no concessions in a PRD.’ He added, ‘If you get sued, I’ll get out and raise money to help you and I’ll even donate myself. If they want to build according to the new ordinance, they have my blessings.’ Betty Hatchett said the development would be detrimental to Pike County ‘because we don’t have enough police protection as it is for the people here now.’ She said she is afraid to be out or even drive home after dark in her neighborhood and law enforcement response times are too slow. Lynda Lynch said, ‘This will impact not only our schools but the county and the landowners around it and we’re totally opposed to it.’

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