County Rejects Major New Home Development

A representative with the CE Group of Raleigh appeared for Johnston County Commissioners on Monday night seeking approval for a 244 unit development on Cornwallis Road near Winston Road west of Clayton. Commissioners rejected the request due to concerns over density, traffic, and the demand for county sewer services. Photo

For the first time in nearly two years, Johnston County Commissioners have rejected a developer’s plans for a major Planned Unit Development (PUD) near Clayton.

CE Group of Raleigh had been working for months on a proposed 244-unit development on a 164 acre site in the 6800 block of Cornwallis Road in the Cleveland Township.  The property is owned by Kenneth and Dawn Lucas.

A traffic impact study indicated the need for new turn lanes on Cornwallis Road and a stop light at the intersection of Winston Road.

During a public hearing Monday night, no one spoke in opposition of the 244 single family home PUD, which would require both county water and sewer services.

However, Commissioner Chairman Jeff Carver expressed concerns about the growing burden on county infrastructure. “I think everyone knows what my position on this has been, especially after we voted this morning to spend another $40 million on wastewater for the needs moving forward and $300 million in needs over the next 20 years.”

“I think we have got to press (the planning) department and the planning board and this board to make the necessary changes so we are not getting behind the eight ball.”

“We are behind the eight ball on traffic and overcrowding and wastewater is something that is not in our constitution we have to give to anybody. So that’s a game changer and that’s self-inflicted.”

Commissioner Allen Mims said, “Our first duty is the safety and well-being of our citizens.”

Vice Chairman Ted Godwin said, “How much is too much with the density with the traffic, with everything out there. You know we laid out the rules – this body did at some point – and it would appear to me that everybody involved here has operated within those rules. But it still sticks in your craw to know that it just exacerbates out there with too much density, too much traffic, too much going on. But until we change the rules I don’t know that we’ve got any other action but to move forward because they have laid out a very good PUD and with improvements to the existing infrastructure.”

Commissioner Chad Stewart expressed concerns about traffic and how thorough traffic impact studies really are.

Planning Director Berry Gray said the development would add approximately 141 new students at West Clayton Elementary, Cleveland Middle and Clayton High School.  Two of the three schools are already above capacity.

In a 3-to-3 vote, with Chairman Jeff Carver and Commissioners Allen Mims and Larry Wood voting no, the measure ended in a tie meaning it failed to pass.

In August, the Johnston County Planning Board voted 6-to-1 to recommend commissioners approve the request.

Planned Unit Developments or PUD’s are similar to subdivisions except they must have a minimum of 100 acres and can have up to 1.5 homes per acre. They also require county water and sewer because of the increased density.

Traditional subdivisions can be less than 100 acres but the homes must be on septic tanks.  Density of up to 1.5 homes per acre is allowed but because of the septic tank requirement, the density is usually about 1 home per acre lot.

The last time Commissioners rejected a PUD was in January 2016 when the board turned down a 375 unit development on 171 acres on Cornwallis Road. The PUD was resubmitted as a subdivision, with septic tanks, and was approved with 256 lots.

The CE Group cannot reapply for a PUD for at least a year but can reapply for a subdivision on the 164 acre site at anytime.  A representative of CE Group, Mark Ashness, did not make any statement after the request was denied.