Apartment vote could be June 8

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Farmville Town Council will discuss the proposed $20 million 120-unit Farmville Town Center apartment complex at its Wednesday work session and potentially vote on the conditional use permit at its June 8 regular meeting.

The project — proposed by Farmville Associates LLC, managed by Russell Harper — was recommended for approval with conditions on Monday morning by the town’s planning commission.

According to Farmville’s Ward B Council Member Sally Thompson, “the council will review and take under consideration the recommendations and conditions made by the planning commission at our regular work session (on) the first Wednesday in June.”

No potential action is expected until the June 8 council meeting.

The apartment complex is proposed to be constructed between Walmart and the Greens South subdivision with an entrance on South Main Street near the intersection of Milnwood Road. The entrance plan has stirred opposition to the project.

As part of the planning commission’s action, which came on a 5-2 vote, members recommended that an 8-foot privacy wall be erected and vegetation planted around the proposed apartment complex to provide a buffer from

adjacent residential properties and that the council consider moving the project’s entrance back to the former Willa Wood property on South Main Street as stipulated in the original proposal.

The action came after developers with Farmville Associates LLC said they wanted to use an existing right-of-way for the entrance, which would place it adjacent to Benchmark Community Bank, much closer to the intersection of South Main and Milnwood Road.

Members L.D. Phaup and Dan Dwyer, who also serves on the town council, voted against the motion, offered by Dr. Charles Ross.

Commission members discussed stipulating a “right turn only” sign at the exit and entrance to the project, drawing a response from Russell Harper, manager for Farmville Associates, who stated that he would not move forward with the project if such a sign was present.

The commission’s decision to recommend approval of the project comes after a joint public hearing held recently, where the project drew almost united criticism from the public over concerns of traffic on South Main Street, the need for apartments and the devaluation of property.

“The traffic study came back and said there was no need for traffic signals, that intersection would be able to handle the traffic,” said Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates regarding the firm’s findings.

In a letter to Spates dated May 19, Donald DeBerry, a senior traffic engineer for McCormick Taylor, stated that “…it is my professional opinion that given the urban nature of this location, a modified driveway connection depicted in the general location of the existing driveway shown on the the enclosed drawing will operate efficiently. Given the current development proposal, our analysis shows the proposed access functions at an acceptable level of service.”

The property, owned by Farmville Associates, is zoned for apartments, according to Spates. Harper purchased the property in 1999, he said.

“This is a dedicated right-of-way,” Spates said of the project’s newest entrance and exit. “They have every right to access the property.”

adjacent residential properties and that the council consider moving the project’s entrance back to the former Willa Wood property on South Main Street as stipulated in the original proposal.

The action came after developers with Farmville Associates LLC said they wanted to use an existing right-of-way for the entrance, which would place it adjacent to Benchmark Community Bank, much closer to the intersection of South Main and Milnwood Road.

Members L.D. Phaup and Dan Dwyer, who also serves on the town council, voted against the motion, offered by Dr. Charles Ross.

Commission members discussed stipulating a “right turn only” sign at the exit and entrance to the project, drawing a response from Russell Harper, manager for Farmville Associates, who stated that he would not move forward with the project if such a sign was present.

The commission’s decision to recommend approval of the project comes after a recent joint public hearing where the project drew almost united criticism from the public over concerns of traffic on South Main Street, the need for apartments and the devaluation of property.

“The traffic study came back and said there was no need for traffic signals, that intersection would be able to handle the traffic,” said Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates regarding the firm’s findings.

In a letter to Spates dated May 19, Donald DeBerry, a senior traffic engineer for McCormick Taylor, stated that “…it is my professional opinion that given the urban nature of this location, a modified driveway connection depicted in the general location of the existing driveway shown on the the enclosed drawing will operate efficiently. Given the current development proposal, our analysis shows the proposed access functions at an acceptable level of service.”

The property, owned by Farmville Associates, is zoned for apartments, according to Spates. Harper purchased the property in 1999, he said.

“This is a dedicated right-of-way,” Spates said of the project’s newest entrance and exit. “They have every right to access the property.”