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Planning Board OK’s rezoning on Bailey; hearing set for June 6


April 14. By Dave Vieser. Despite concerns about increased traffic, the Cornelius Planning Board has approved a request from Mariner Properties Inc. to rezone three acres of vacant land at the northeast corner of Bailey Road and Statesville Road to accommodate new retail buildings. By a 6-1 vote, the board sent the proposal on to the Town Board for a public hearing, which has been set for June 6 beginning at 7 pm.

In a nod toward sentiment that growth is running ahead of infrastructure, the town wants to make Mariner look at traffic patterns again in two years. The issue is the left-hand turn on Bailey just east of Hwy. 21

“Our biggest concern is the traffic and especially left turns. Our neighborhood was designed as a pedestrian friendly community, and crossing Bailey Road is a challenge.”

– Jeffrey Baker, Oakhurst HOA

If approved by the town commissioners, the three new buildings comprising 40,000 square feet would house a mix of restaurant, retail and office tenants. “Our goal is to create a village concept, where all three buildings work together as a destination point,” said project architect Mike Garvey from Mind’s Eye Architecture. “The first floor plaza, which will be about 4-5 feet higher than Statesville Road, will include an outdoor patio running the width of the building, a restaurant on the Bailey Road corner and a bank on the north side of the first level.”

The only resident to speak, Jeffrey Baker, who belongs to the Oakhurst HOA, said they are “pleased to see that this last phase of land development is happening. However, our biggest concern is the traffic and especially left turns. Our neighborhood was designed as a pedestrian friendly community, and crossing Bailey Road is a challenge.”

Baker suggested that the planning board close off the median on Bailey Road so motorists could not turn left into the new stores. Chairman Brian Simmons proposed such a move, but it was opposed by most of the other board members.

Meanwhile, Planning Director Wayne Herron said the town is sensitive to the concerns of the residents. “We had conversations with the applicant, about the impacts left turns could have in this location since it is only 30 feet from the intersection of Bailey and Statesville Roads,” he added.

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As a result, Herron said the town took the unusual step of including details of the performance guarantee agreed to by Mariner Properties. The performance guarantee, or “bond,” allows the Town to evaluate the function of the intersection with the new development for a two year period and require modifications for safety needs if deemed necessary, paid for by the developer.

“We wanted to point out to the public and the reviewing boards during the rezoning that this is a tool that we can use to further evaluate and implement any improvements deemed necessary for safety reasons after the project opens” Herron said.

Other traffic recommendations the town insisted on included no access from Highway 21/Statesville Road, adding 200-feet of left turn lane storage into the site from southbound Statesville Road, and using three way stop signs at the entrance way intersection within the site.

With those assurances in hand, the board approved the application by a 6-1 vote, with Simmons casting the lone dissenting vote. The June 6 hearing will begin at 7pm at Town Hall on Catawba Avenue.