Smithfield Town Council Approves Plans For East River Subdivision

The Smithfield Town Council approved a preliminary subdivision plat for East River at their December monthly meeting.  East River, being developed by Buffalo Road LLC, is a 298 to 315 lot subdivision at 1899 Buffalo Road, just north of Booker Dairy Road.  The subdivision previously won council approved but needed the board authorization this month on the plat which contained several variances.

East River subdivision was given the green light but only after the council required developers to meet 11 conditions including completion of a Traffic Impact Study; request voluntary annexation before connecting to town water, sewer and electricity; obtain a DOT right-of-way permit for street accesses onto Buffalo Road; meet town codes on tree preservation, landscaping, lighting, storm water management, grading and erosion; develop an overflow parking plan for each phase of the development; and a greenway trail should go around a cul-de-sac rather than through it.

Council members expressed some concerns about the small size of some lots.  Town ordinances require minimum lot width and lot frontage not less than 40 feet. But many of the East River lots are only 37 feet wide for single family home, 25 feet wide for triplex units, and only 17.5 feet wide for townhome units.

Side yard setbacks cannot be less than 6 feet under Smithfield’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). However, the subdivision was given approval to build single family detached homes as close as 5 feet to the property line.  The building seperation minimum is 12 feet under the UDO but East River will be allowed to construct homes with as little as 10 feet building separation.

Planning Director Stephen Wensman and the Smithfield Fire Department has expressed concerns street parking being an issue should access to the subdivision be needed by larger vehicles like fire trucks or trash trucks.

Mayor Pro Tem Travis Scott said it could be an issue in the event of a house fire.  No changes were made to the proposed streets but the HOA will likely be requested to ban on-street parking.  Once the streets are dedicated to the town, police can also enforce a No Parking ordinance if requested in the future by the council.

Nearby resident Ken Langston spoke during a public hearing on East River. Langston had two concerns. One concern was the subdivision turn into primarily rental units. Second, was the issue of water pressure. Langston said he has had problems with low water pressure the last 2-1/2 years.  Public Utilities Director Ted Credle said he was unaware of any water pressure issues on Buffalo Road but he would investigate.

After being given reassurances by the developer the streets meet town code and the number of off-street parking spaces exceeds town code, the board voted unanimously to approve to preliminary subdivision plat.

East River will be built in phases. Upon completion there will be up to 280 single family homes, of which up to 76 may be attached units or triplexes.  There will be up to 35 townhouse units.  The developer, Reed Smith of Clayton, indicated to town officials the finished homes will range in price from $150,000 to $200,000.