Going against the planning board

Commissioners approve Everest Park despite recommendations


SILER CITY — Planning Dept. Director Jennifer Baptiste approached the board of commissioners as she usually does for public hearings on proposed projects.  

The first public hearing during the board’s May 15 meeting was for a residential and commercial mixed-use development called Everest Park, which would be located between Old U.S. 421 and Glosson Road.  

The planning board voted in favor of denying the rezoning request for the over 293 acre parcel, citing the rezoning request was inconsistent with the surrounding areas. The board of commissioners, however, voted unanimously to approve the rezoning request. However, two board members — At-Large Commissioner Cindy Bray and Dist. 5 Commissioner Lewis Fadely — were absent at the time of the vote.    

“When the planning board deliberated this, they did not really elaborate on their decision,” Baptiste told the board. “They just stated that they found it [Everest Park] was inconsistent with the area.” 

 There would be several districts within Everest Park, with some dedicated to housing and others dedicated to commercial and retail space. 

Almost 18 acres are going to be set aside for the commercial district, with some retail spaces having apartments on the upper floors. The commercial district would also have a gas station or a convenience store, according to the rezoning application.  

 Another 77 acres are slated to house almost 430 single-family homes and would include buffers and park space. The other 194 acres will be used to create a senior living community for people who are 55 years old and over. The proposed gated community would house 295 townhomes and a senior living center, as well as two community centers, open spaces and stormwater control ponds.  

 However, the land Everest Park is set to be on is designated to be Rural Residential, which according to the rezoning application is “areas of very low-density development that are either environmentally-sensitive or are located beyond the anticipated utility service area of the town.” 

The goals for rural residential land are:  

  • Limit the impacts of development on the environment 
  • Promote sustainability  
  • Improve the appearance of properties 
  • Permit residential development at a density in keeping with the rural characteristics in the town 
  • Limit town provision of public infrastructure in rural areas 
  • Encourage agricultural use of land 
  • Encourage efficient use of transportation 

Siler City’s planning board voted six to two in favor of denying the rezoning request for Everest Park, citing the plans for the mixed-use development didn’t match the Land Use Plan’s designation for the parcels.   

“Normally, I want to mirror what the planning board recommends,” Mayor Pro Tem Bill Haiges said at the May 15 meeting. “But in this case, I’m interested to know why the board recommended denying the applicant.” 

 Baptiste said the planning board didn’t cite a specific reason for the recommendation, other than the proposed rezoning request wouldn’t adhere to the land use plan. She did say, however, if the board of commissioners felt the new development would help fulfill the newly established strategic plan, they could amend the land use plan to accommodate Everest Park.