Cary NC is discussing redevelopment for the proposed affordable housing


The proposed affordable housing project in Kerry has received widespread support from the city council and some residents, but has also drawn some criticism from residents concerned about traffic and environmental impacts.

Laurel Street Residential offered an apartment building on 921 SE Maynard Road with 130 units. Half of the units will be reserved for those earning a maximum of 80% of the median income by area (AMI).

“We deliberately offer housing with different incomes because it reflects the organic demographics of our community,” said Morgan Mansa, Kerry’s Intergovernmental Interlocutor. “The accessibility of this site is crucial because we all know that events such as Fentan, the future renovation of South Hills and the location of Epic Games will require more skilled workers to live in our community.”

This month, council members heard residents at a public hearing asking to transfer approximately 7 acres of city property from residential to a mixed-use neighborhood.

While many have said they support the concept of affordable housing, they have expressed concern about the increase in traffic in the area, the height of the building, the size of the flow buffers and how it could affect the environment.

The proposed building will have a minimum of three floors and a maximum of 65 feet and four floors, said Heather Wilehan, senior housing planner for Kerry Planning and Development.

Wolfgang Hertz-Lane, senior pastor of the Lutheran Church of Christ the King, said more affordable apartments in the thriving housing market will benefit many in the area. This includes members of his church, which is in the same area as the proposed building.

“Too many people working in Kari, including some of our parishioners, cannot afford to live in the same city they love and serve,” Hertz-Lane said. “This includes teachers, police officers, firefighters who would be considered middle class until they are counted in an increasingly exclusive housing market.”

In the Raleigh County, 80% of the AMI for one person will be approximately $ 53,600 per year, and 80% of the AMI for a family of four will be approximately $ 76,500 per year.

Hertz Lane said road and safety concerns around the project could be addressed, but urged the council to do so without reducing the number of units provided.

“The Laurel Street project may have been a drop in the bucket, but it’s an important start,” Hertz Lane said.

A place for improvement

Board members generally supported the project, although some areas they believe need improvement.

The council did not take any redevelopment measures. It must be referred to the Planning and Zoning Board before it is returned to the Board for final decision.

Council member Don Franz stressed the need to address transport issues related to resonance.

“I think we can really make real, tangible improvements to the road to not only address the traffic that will be generated by this project, but also the existing traffic problem that exists today in the neighborhood and especially on Ryan Road,” – said Franz.

Board member Jennifer Robinson said she wants the developer to meet high standards. She said that for an apartment building there is not enough public space to gather people. Robinson also called for better stormwater and a more direct walking route to a nearby high school.

However, she said she likes that the building will be close to public transport, as in the past affordable transport has been a problem for affordable housing. The building will be located near the intersection of SE Maynard Road and Cary Towne Boulevard.

“I think it’s a good project and I think there’s something to work on to make it a great project,” she said.

Wilehan said the area will be equipped with at least 1,200 square feet of space for gathering communities.

April Farley, a resident of Eyrangate, a neighborhood next to the proposed apartments, said preserving the natural space on 7 acres of land should be a priority.

“There are fewer and fewer green spaces,” Farley said. “We can’t grow more land.”

Trails in and out of the area will be built to provide a footpath that completes Dunham Greenway, Wilehan said.

Two large trees will be preserved, Wilehan said, and the property will have perimeter and flow buffers that will be considered significant.

The need for affordable housing

Some Kerry residents have challenged land use, preferring the park instead of housing for various incomes. They referred to the master plan of city parks, recreation and cultural resources, in which the area is included in the future park.

Dana Widmar, an aide to Kerry’s mayor, said disinformation was spreading about targeted land use. In 2003, the area near East Cary High School was identified as potential parkland, but no formal agreement was reached. Although the purpose of the land has changed, the unedited initial use plan for the park remains in the master plan for 2012, Vidmar said.

However, others argued that the proposed development provides an opportunity to build more affordable housing in an area that continues to grow – and become more expensive.

“One may ask, if not here and now, then when and where?” said Jeanne Ford, a Kerry resident since 1981. “Of course, Laurel Street will not solve the Kerry Affordable Housing Crisis – and it is a crisis. More work is needed, and more units need to be submitted. But this development will be a sure step in the right direction. “

City Clerk Virginia Johnson said the council had received 10 comments in support of the restructuring. In addition, One room, a non-partisan group working on community issues, collected 135 signatures in support of the project. Two comments were submitted against the resonance, two more expressed concern at the public hearings on aspects of the proposal, but did not oppose the draft.

Board member Lori Bush, who said she grew up in affordable housing, said the pros of the project outweighed its negatives. These positives include the promotion of socio-economic diversity and the fact that this affordable housing will not exist in the food desert.

“Two years ago, we called the people who live in this community the workers we need,” Bush said. “They put their lives on the line so we can continue to live our lives. Firefighters, police, teachers, people who stockpiled our shelves, they put their lives at stake for us. I think it’s just an opportunity for us to give them a chance to stay in Kerry. “

Franz said the project and the provision of affordable housing to local families are linked to personal values.

“It’s a decision about values,” Franz said. “I think we’ve done great parks and a lot all over town. One thing we are really struggling with these days is the affordability of housing. So it comes down to values. “

This story was originally published April 21, 2022, 7:30 p.m.

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Cary NC is discussing redevelopment for the proposed affordable housing

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