Jul. 22—As construction of new neighborhoods continues, Sanford may be on its way to finding a balance between rural and suburban communities.
Local developer Mark Lyczowski and Sanford residents reached a compromise Tuesday night as they discussed two new projects during the city council's bimonthly meeting. Lyczowski, who is from Sanford, is the architect of many of the city's new residential development projects.
The number of new neighboods in Sanford has soared in the last two or three years as officials predict massive population growth in the city. Many expect Sanford to become the next suburb of Raleigh, as people living and working in the state's capital move outward over the next decade.
The expected rise in population has prompted locals and out-of-towners to invest in Sanford real estate, creating a problem for the city. With out-of-date zoning and design rules, it's easy for developers to get approval for projects that are large, dense and lack amenities like sidewalks and green spaces.
The city council has turned to the lengthy and complicated conditional zoning process in order to attract and approve projects that will improve the city's infrastructure, layout and overall look and feel.
So far, the system works when developers are willing to work with staff, according to Sanford officials. Although Lyczowski is not bound by law to do things such as installing sidewalks or creating additional stormwater drainage ponds, he pledged Tuesday to meet many of the requests from city officials and nearby residents, increasing the overall cost of the project.
"We want to set the standard tonight, moving forward, for how this is done," Lyczowski said.
The two newest projectsCouncil members heard from Lyczowski and others Tuesday on two projects. The first spans 143 acres of land along Commercial Drive and N.C. 87, and would be home to a mix of townhouses and single-family homes. About 13 acres would also be reserved for commercial development such as retail stores, repair shops, gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies or restaurants.
Lyczowski said the development is meant to be a "front door" to a community to the south called Laurel Oaks.
"(We want to) have a parkway-type entrance coming off of (N.C.) 87," he said. "We could have some nice commercial (development) out front and then that'll transition into the townhomes, and then that'll transition into single-family (homes)."
David Smoak, a Sanford resident who lives near the site of the proposed development, said he was generally in favor of the project, but was concerned that it might create more water runoff into the Carolina Trace community.
Lyczowski responded by saying that the plan includes eight new stormwater ponds built to retain as much water as possible. One of the goals of the project is to ensure post-runoff equals pre-runoff, said Beth Blackmon, an engineer Timmons Group consulting firm.
The second project, at South Franklin Drive and Wicker Street, encompasses 33.6 acres. The site would also be home to a mix of townhouses and single-family homes with a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet.
Following several meetings with the residents whose property abuts the proposed site, Lyczowski also pledged to: install sidewalks, curbs and gutters on both sides of the street; create additional buffers around one neighboring property and along Franklin Drive; and maintain space on the south border of the project and leave the existing road there as is.
Several nearby residents, including David Jones, thanked Lyczowski and developer Ray Covington for taking their worries into account.
Jones said he appreciated the way the two went about the process, "having met with us individually and heard our specific concerns and having committed to address those concerns.
"We feel thankful that we have local developers who are willing to take these things into consideration," he said.
Jones added that although there's general opposition to changing the zoning from R-20 to R-10, cutting the density in half, "In contrast to the R-4 designation we were faced with, with the prior proposal, this is certainly a welcome and refreshing change."
In both cases, as part of the conditional zoning process, a more detailed site plan would have to be approved by the city council before work begins.