Smithfield Town Council Approves Large Residential Development

A large residential development is coming to Smithfield.

Following a one hour public hearing Tuesday night, the Smithfield Town Council approved a request by developers for a planned unit development (PUD) on 67.88 acres of land on both sides of Buffalo Road just north of Booker Dairy Road. The land is owned by local businessman Frank Lee.

The developer, Reed Smith of Clayton, said the multi-unit development would consist of 298 to 315 units depending on what was built.  Smith said it would be a mix of single family homes, townhouses and triplexes depending on the current market.

Town Councilman Emery Ashley asked, “Without concrete plans what are we being asked to approve?”

Town Planning Director Stephen Wensman said staff members had requested to know the specific number of units in the development but the developer wanted flexibility.  “They want us to approve the master plan with additional details to be provided with staff approval.”

“The master plan shows ‘typical’ details for each type on a ‘typical’ lot but does not show where each type of unit will be constructed,” Wensman stated. “The narrative states that there will be up to 280 single family homes of which up to 76 of them may be attached units (triplexes). There will be up to 35 townhouse units on the east side of the development. As the project is constructed in phases, the developer is requesting flexibility to determine the type of unit and location with each phase, not to exceed the over unit lot count.  This is not an allowed PUD flexibility.”

Developer Reed Smith of Clayton received approval from the Smithfield Town Council Tuesday night to build a 298 to 315 unit development on Buffalo Road near Booker Dairy Road. Photo

Smith said the development would be built in 9 phases, one phase per year until completed in approximately 9 years.

The density is approximately 4.3 units per acre.   Many of the lot sizes will be under 4,800 square feet. For example, some single family detached lots are 3,145 square feet, triplex units 2,000 square feet and townhome units 1,400 square feet.    The development has a proposed separation between buildings at 10-12 feet.

Town Councilman David Barbour questioned Smith on whether such close density would create a problem in the event of a fire.  Smith said the Smithfield development is modeled after Park View on City Road in Clayton and since it opened there have been no issues.

Smith said the Clayton Town Council offered them the flexibility with construction of Park View and such flexibility was normal, even though it was inconsistent with Smithfield’s Planned Unit Development ordinances.    Smith said the flexibility was needed because developers will spend $3 million on the project before the first for sale sign goes in the ground.  He said the average price per unit will be between $150,000 and $200,000. The development will also have an active Homeowners Association (HOA) which will maintain all common areas.   The development will add up to $50 million to the Town of Smithfield tax base once completed.

Smith said they would request Town of Smithfield water, sewer and power services and would request voluntary annexation.

John Twisdale Jr. spoke in opposition of the 67 acre development expressing concerns about the density of the lots, traffic, and the impact on surrounding properties. Photo

John Twisdale Jr. whose family property adjoins the development spoke in opposition of the plans questioning the impact on traffic, adjacent properties, and the density.  “Would you desire to live in a neighborhood with homes within 20 feet of your house or with a half-acre lot as most of our residents now do?”  Twisdale said by not having a concrete development plan there would be no accountability.

The Council voted unanimously to approved the request with several conditions including voluntary annexation, a traffic impact study, obtain a DOT right-of-way permit for street accesses onto Buffalo Road, any changes must be approved by town planning staff, and any major changes must be approved by the town council.  The council also prohibited construction of any townhomes or triplexes near the front entrances or in the first two of the 9 phases.