HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Huntersville town commissioners voted again to defer a vote allowing developers to build a seven-story office building in the middle of Birkdale Village.
It would also add 450 parking spaces in a nearby parking deck.
The vote was 3-3, with Mayor Melinda Bales breaking the tie and voting in favor of deferral. Commissioners Amber Kovacs, Dan Boone, and Rob Kidwell voted against deferring the decision.
Birkdale residents have been fighting with the town board and Birkdale’s developers, North American Properties, for months.
“It’s not what I bought into. It’s not what I want. And I’m trying to protect my home,” said Birkdale resident David Schurr. “I’ve enjoyed the neighborhood. I don’t want to leave it, but if it winds up not being the quality of life I bought into, yeah, I would look elsewhere.”
The issue is that the new proposed office building, which would include 150,000 square feet of office space and 25,000 square feet of commercial space, falls well outside the town’s zoning ordinance. The building is currently planned to be at least 110 feet tall, and Birkdale Village’s current zoning only allows for a maximum building height of 48 feet.
Neighbors fear the extra traffic the development would bring, as well as the aesthetics of the building.
“Zoning is there for a reason. It’s there to keep things stable, and this is not stable if they’re able to go in and change zoning any time they want,” said Birkdale resident Merlin Villar.
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Originally, North American properties hoped to build a 12-story hotel and a 350-unit apartment building in addition to the parking deck and office building. Following extreme opposition from Birkdale residents, they scaled back their plans to only include the office building and parking deck.
Still, that hasn’t appeased the opposition, which is still concerned about building height.
“This developer, not only is he not listening to the community, he’s not even respecting some form of market analysis. Where did the need come from?” said Birkdale resident Nick O’Shaughnessy, who helped design the original Birkdale Village plan in the 1990s.
Commissioners decided that the scaled-back plan constituted a “substantial” change and would need to go back to the planning board for review.
Huntersville’s planning board will discuss the project at their Feb. 28 meeting, and it will go back to commissioners for a vote on March 20.