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The Town of Vass voted at a public hearing on June 21 to annex and rezone 33 acres of farmland for proposed housing development. The properties, located off Long Point Road, were zoned RA (Rural Agriculture) and are now zoned R-2-CZ (Residential-2, Conditional Zoning).

Town Planner Molly Goodman said the properties are not in a floodplain according to current information.

Many residents raised concerns regarding the development.

Rachel King said she chose to live in Vass because of the quaintness, and she is concerned for the safety of people who use the roads for walking, running, and riding horses.

The meeting was a continuance of last week’s public hearing when 150 community members attended because the developer, Travis Greene, of Legacy Homes, was not available.

Overflow filled the town hall’s waiting area with community members. Of the members registered to speak, 16 spoke at the podium. Other members randomly stood at their chairs to speak and ask questions.

Lewin Blue is the owner of C & L Grading Inc and stood at his chair to speak. He asked that his work appearance be overlooked because he had just learned of the public hearing. There was no announcement of the public hearing on the town’s website.

Robert Koontz, of KOONTZJONESDesign, is a landscape architect and presented a sketch of the proposed development. Koontz said the design is a cluster development and allows for smaller lots and more open space.

The proposed development will be 30% open space, a pool, clubhouse and approximately 2 miles of walking trails available to residents. The open space is in the wet area. The development plans call for 29 townhomes and 46 detached lots with single-family homes. The price point will begin in the $300,000 range, according to Greene.

James Cummings said he owns land adjacent to the proposed development. He said the road was built by his great grandfather and asked about access to the original road.

“We can provide access because it would become a public street,” Koontz said.

“I just assume you [a development] not be there,” Cummings said. “We already have a lot of trouble with water there.”

“You won’t have more water coming onto your land,” Koontz said. “In perpetuity, developers assure water will not travel onto other land.”

Alton Tinney is also an adjacent landowner to the proposed development. He said the access bridge is home to a U.S. Army Robin Sage exercise, that there have been four fatal vehicle wrecks in the curve near the bridge, and the caution sign has been knocked down.

Tinney said his largest concern was that Marvin Blue, the previous owner of the proposed development, showed him spear tips and arrowheads from the property. He requested an environmental impact study before the rezoning and annexation.

Resident Debbie Williams said the board was destroying history and community.

Rendering submitted by KOONTZJONESDesign.

“It is time to value what we have here,” Williams said at the suggestion by Tinney to develop five-acre mini-farms. “Give people a chance to have a little piece of land. And I would like to see agendas on the website.”

Resident Erin McDermott said she is a scientist and read from a sociology study on the effects of suburbanization. The study showed it destroys individualism and erodes uniqueness.

Elizabeth May lives on Aiken Road and said the area has flooded four times. Two of those times, she said, it was impassable in her pickup truck.

“The homeowners will be paying for flood insurance,” May said. “Is there not another place higher and drier [to develop]?”

Resident Wayne May said there was a lot of water in the proposed development site, and roads were not made for that many people.

“Farmland should stay farmland,” May said.

A community member, who did not completely identify himself, said the board should put a 90-day moratorium on the vote to rezone and annex until after the public was heard.

“Whether we approve and annex or not, they can develop,” Commissioner George Blackwell Jr. said.

Blackwell opposed the rezoning, and the four other board members approved. The annexation vote was unanimous.

~Article and videos by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie M. Sellers. Feature photo by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer Melissa Schaub.

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