City Council approves cluster housing permit near Crossover Road

Crossover Cottage conceptual plan / City of Fayetteville

City Council members voted in favor of a permit to allow a cluster housing project just west of Crossover Road, about a half-mile south of Mission Boulevard.

The permit was approved by the Planing Commission in September. That decision was appealed to the City Council in October at the request of some residents who live near the proposed project.

The plan calls for 10 single-family homes, and includes renovation and repurposing of the historic Peter Smyth House for nonresidential use. It also includes construction of a new commercial building near Crossover Road. The houses would surround a shared green space and swimming pool, and would range in size from about 1,300 to 1,600 square feet.

The council first took up the issue on Oct. 20 when seven neighbors spoke against the plan.

Those who spoke said they were concerned about traffic safety, the possibility of the development lowering their property value, increased density, water runoff, the potential for noise and light pollution, and not wanting commercial uses near their homes. Some said they didn’t think emergency vehicles could navigate the type of development that the permit would allow.

Fire Chief Brad Hardin was asked if he had any problems with the permit, and he said there were no issues.

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Council Member Sloan Scroggin, who is one of two representatives for that area, requested the item be held for two weeks to allow city staff to put together some traffic accident data for the council to review.

The council agreed, and the item was pushed to the Nov. 5 meeting.

Staff began the second discussion with a graphic showing three years of accident data going back to 2015.

The data showed 120 accidents a half-mile north at the intersection of Mission Boulevard, but only four incidents in front of the subject property, three of which did not include any apparent injuries.

Scroggin said the data backed up his initial hunch, which was that the area in question is not a hot spot for accidents, and said adding 10 more homes wouldn’t likely be problematic.

He also asked city staff whether they believe that the proposed development could potentially improve the stormwater situation in the area. Staff said stormwater requirements would indeed come into play if the development moves forward, whereas a development without the permit would not be subject to those rules.

Scroggin said with traffic not likely to be a problem, and water runoff requirements in play, he’d be comfortable with the project moving forward.

“I think the Planning Commission got this one right,” said Scroggin.

Council Member Sarah Bunch, who is the other Ward 3 representative for the area, said one thing the neighbors might not be considering is that quite a bit of the traffic in the area doesn’t come from local neighborhoods, but instead is a result of people who live in the Baldwin/Elkins area who are coming into Fayetteville each day.

“We really don’t have a lot of say-so over that traffic,” said Bunch.

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Council Member Matthew Petty said he doesn’t buy into the idea that property values would decrease because of the development.

Bunch, who is a local real estate agent, agreed. She said if the property were to be developed as a mobile home park, it might lower the surrounding values. But a cluster housing development will likely include homes that are priced such that they would not hurt the values of the nearby homes.

Council Member Mark Kinion said he’s not sure the area is an appropriate place for a cluster housing development. He said he sides with the neighbors and wouldn’t support the permit.

Council Member Kyle Smith said increasing the diversity of housing types – and possibly the type of people who’d live in the development – could only enrich the community, so he supports the original permit.

Council Member Teresa Turk said it’s a difficult decision because on one hand, she thinks saving the historic home is a good thing along with having added stormwater management requirements in place. On the down side, the neighbors are against the plan and they’ve invested heavily in their homes.

Council Member Sarah Marsh said one way to reduce traffic issues is to invest in ideas that reduce the amount of cars. Some of those things include building homes within the city limits near existing homes instead of putting them on the edges of the city, and adding commercial uses near homes so people can walk to more places. She said she supports the permit.

Council Member Sonia Gutierrez said if she lived in the area she would like the idea of having smaller homes nearby where people like her aging parents could live so she could walk to visit them. She said she thinks the cluster housing development is innovative, and that she was in support.

In the final decision, only Kinion, Turk and Bunch voted to appeal the permit, so the Planning Commission’s decision stands.