Ballantyne townhome plan withdrawn

Blakeney Health Road proposal by David Weekley Homes had attracted fierce opposition from residents concerned about schools, traffic

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A developer has scuttled plans to build 164 townhomes off Blakeney Heath Road in Ballantyne, following intense opposition from neighbors worried about the effects on traffic and schools.

In an email to residents on Tuesday, City Council member Ed Driggs, who represents the area, forwarded an email from developer David Weekley Homes that said the request to rezone the 37-acre parcel behind Community House Middle School and the Morrison YMCA was being withdrawn.

The three-sentence email from Walter Fields III, who represents the developer, did not indicate the reason for calling off the plans. Fields said in an email to The Ledger on Wednesday morning that he was referring a request for more details to David Weekley Homes, which has not responded.

In the letter to residents, Driggs wrote:

As you can see from the message below, David Weekley Homes has withdrawn its petition to rezone the Blakeney Heath Road site. …  

I do not have any information about the intentions of the property owners at this point. Since they had decided to sell the property, they may look for another buyer.  A new buyer might submit another rezoning application, or they might work with [the Historic Landmarks Commission] to gain approval of a development that is feasible within the existing R-3 designation. In the latter case, the plan would not come before City Council for approval. I will keep you advised of any developments that come to my attention.

Driggs told The Ledger in an email that “the path to success for this petition was rocky,” given the opposition by nearby residents and the Historic Landmarks Commission. “The question now is what is the best use for a large historic site on a narrow, winding road? We will have to wait and if other proposals come forward.”

The plans by David Weekley Homes attracted strong opposition almost from the time they were revealed in December. Residents said building so many homes would add to already unbearable traffic congestion and overcrowded schools, and they packed into a community meeting in January to air those concerns and urge the undeveloped site remain designated for single-family homes. One speaker blasted the developer as “greedy,” and another asked, “Have you been on that road at 7:40 in the morning?”

Driggs told The Ledger at the time that it was one of the biggest crowds for a community rezoning meeting that he has seen in his six years on the council. Residents have kept up the heat since then.

Historic Ballantyne: Residents also said they worried about the effect of development on the nearby Blakeney House, a farmhouse on the site that dates to 1905 and is designated as a local historic landmark.

The site is one of the few large, developable tracts of land remaining in south Charlotte.

Ron Koppelmann, one of the leaders of residents opposed to the development, said he was pleased with the news but is uncertain what new plans might emerge next.

In an email to The Ledger, he wrote: “Everyone I’ve spoken with is glad to see this chapter come to a close but many of us expect that this is not the end of the story. It was never the right solution to put high density urban zoning — clearly stated in the zoning ordinance as meant for uptown Charlotte — in the middle of our residential Ballantyne neighborhoods.”

At a community meeting in January, residents voiced opposition to a plan to build 164 townhomes off Blakeney Heath Road. Developer David Weekley homes withdrew the proposal on Tuesday.

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Executive editorTony MeciaManaging editorCristina BollingContributing editor: Tim Whitmire; Reporting intern: David Griffith