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The Daily Tar Heel

Town considers development expansion that could encroach on resource conservation district

On Feb. 23, council members approved a special use permit for The Edge Development, which could include over 900,000 square feet in more than 20 buildings.

Resource conservation districts are meant to preserve water quality and minimize potential damage from flooding and erosion.

At a council meeting Monday, Adam Golden, vice president of development at Northwood Ravin, the project’s developer, answered council members’ questions and explained the company’s desire to build 40,000-100,000 square feet of the development in the district.

Building the development within part of the district would increase its visibility from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the I-40 ramp, Golden said. He said this plan has increased retailers’ interest in the site, but the developers have to move fast to lock down interested parties.

“Time is absolutely critical for us,” he said. “The feedback we got honestly has been pretty tremendous.”

Golden wouldn’t name specific retailers, but he said Northwood Ravin is in serious negotiations with businesses interested in having a location at The Edge.

“If we get someone on the line, we will have a tremendous amount of pressure to produce what we say we’re going to produce,” he said.

Council member Jim Ward said he worried about allowing the developer to build in the district without having a more specific idea of how much extra retail space would be feasible with the approval. He said he would need more details before coming to a decision.

“I’m not looking at it with a shovel in hand; I’m looking at it for information,” he said. “I’m really going to need to get things nailed down as much as possible in terms of what is going to be the trade-off.”

Council member George Cianciolo said he also had some reservations, especially concerning the money the town would need to pay for Eubanks Road improvements if the economic agreement was approved.

According to a draft framework of discussion topics for The Edge, the town could be responsible for paying a third of road improvement costs needed for the development. The total cost would be about $3,500,000, with the town paying no more than $1,050,000.

“I was very clear I think, back in February, that I saw no intention at that time of paying for the roads,” Cianciolo said. “And now I’m seeing $1 million for the roads, and I’m wondering what we get in return for that.”

But Golden said the developer could not provide details about the amount of square footage gained from building in the district until the potential retailers had confirmation of the development’s increased visibility.

The council decided to continue discussion of the development at a public hearing set for Sept. 16.

“The more I hear about this, the more dubious I am that we will be successful,” Ward said. “I’m not willing to approve construction in the RCD with maybes.”

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