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December 5, 2020

China Grove Town Council halts plans for major subdivision over concerns of lot size

CHINA GROVE — The China Grove Town Council stymied plans for the construction of a 373-home subdivision at its meeting Tuesday night.

Council members voted 4-1 to deny a request for a conditional use rezoning that would have allowed a 175-acre parcel of property near Collins and Shue roads to be developed into a major subdivision called Collins Walk. 

The request was made from Eddie Moore of the McAdams engineering and architecture firm on behalf of Lennar Homes, one of the nation’s largest homebuilding companies. Lennar, who has built housing developments in 21 states, has already built 26 active communities in the Charlotte region.

During the meeting, Lennar Land Acquisition Manager Matt Pannell detailed the company’s plans for the subdivision, which was to be composed of single-family spec homes in the price range of $250,000-350,000. A swimming pool and community center would also have been included in the development.

After Pannell and Moore explained plans for the subdivision, several China Grove citizens came forward and voiced their opposition to the development, citing issues with traffic, fire safety and the influx of people that the neighborhood would bring. 

Donna Hale, a resident of Shue Road, was opposed to the development for a variety of reasons, including increased traffic and lot sizes that she said were too small. Hale said that she left Mooresville four years ago to avoid the same issues that she believes the new subdivision would cause in China Grove.

“There’s too many homes out there,” Hale said. “The road frontage is too little. It’s a stupid plan altogether.”

The lot sizes of the development were a dealbreaker for China Grove Town Councilman Steve Stroud.

“I have no problem with you selling houses that people want to buy,” Stroud said. “… It’s just jamming that many houses in that little space that I can’t approve of.”

In its plan, Lennar proposed that 212 of the houses in the subdivision would sit on 50-foot wide lots and 161 houses would be on 60-foot wide lots. China Grove Mayor Charles Seaford said that the council may have approved the request if Lennar had proposed that the majority of houses would be on 60-foot wide lots, allowing for more space in between homes.

Moore said Lennar wanted to include more 60-foot wide lots in the plan, but that building and material costs would make it cost prohibitive.

Council Member Brandon Linn said that his main issue was that the closeness of houses could cause safety problems for firefighters if a home in the subdivision was to catch on fire.

“My biggest concern is safety,” Linn said.“ … I’ve had to deal with lot sizes that small and it was a headache for our fire safety crews. When I think about (the subdivision), those people are my No. 1 priority.”

Dale Rigsby, a 35-year resident of China Grove who lives on Shue Road, was also concerned with fire safety.

“We have to grow, but I ask the board to think about what they’re doing,” Rigsby said. “If you let people build on four-acre lots, it’s going to be very dangerous. (Developers) don’t have a conscience for the people in the houses asleep if the house catches on fire.”

China Grove Mayor Pro Tem Rodney Phillips expressed support for the project, citing the tax revenue that the subdivision would generate for the town.

“I think there’s a majority of citizens that would say ‘You guys turned down half a million dollars in revenue just because you didn’t like 50-foot lots?’ I think that’s short-sighted,” Phillips said. “I’m in the camp of let’s figure out how to make it work.”

Phillips was the single dissenting vote.

Moore said that if all 373 planned homes were closed once the subdivision was built, it would generate a $93.25 million tax base. He also said that construction work on the project would create almost $1.5 million in tax revenue in six years. Work on the subdivision would have begun in 2022 and finished in 2028, Moore said.

While the China Grove Town Council halted plans for the Collins Walk subdivision by denying the request, Seaford said that Lennar could approach the council again with a different proposal.

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