View Mobile Site

Bridlewood revisited

CPC votes to recommend requested PDD change

Posted: March 1, 2012 5:27 p.m.
Updated: March 2, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Nearly four years ago, residents of the relatively small, quiet Springdale neighborhood -- appropriately located off Springdale Drive -- woke up to find a large wooded property across Cornwallis Avenue wasn’t very wooded anymore.

Developer Harold V. Pickrell III’s original Planned Development District (PDD) concept called for 16 2- to 3-acre lots to be sold for $1 million each in a gated, horse-themed community. The “clear cutting” of the property upset neighboring residents, but Pickrell alleviated most fears when he told Camden City Council he planned to install a riding trail along the property’s perimeter and a 15- to 20-foot deep buffer of plantings with a four-rail horse fence. Pickrell also said he would install stone columns and at least 100 magnolia trees.

Since then, two roads ending in cul-de-sacs have been cut, while some fencing and stonework were installed.

In July 2009, Pickrell cut the price of the lots down to between $190,000 and $350,000. None sold as the housing market fell. At one point the entire 60-acre property went to auction. No one bit.

Tuesday night, Henry Walker, a surveyor working for Pickrell, presented a “major amendment” to the PDD to the Camden Planning Commission (CPC), the room packed with neighbors. Those neighbors got the chance to look at the new plan before the meeting officially began.

Judging from what five of those neighbors had to say, they were again upset over increasing the number of lots to 41.

Frank Trapp, a 44-year resident of the area, said his neighborhood has restrictive covenants and he has concerns about the differences between what Springdale allows and what Bridlewood Farms might look like.

“This property was a beautiful property before the trees were cut down,” Trapp said. “Now, it’s even more important to maintain control. It just wasn’t meant to be divided the way he’s proposing. Look at the neighborhood. These houses are very nice and we don’t want to ruin our neighborhood and we don’t want to bring the value of our property down.”

To applause, Trapp ended his comments by saying the new plan for Bridlewood looks like what someone might find at a Myrtle Beach campsite. Applause followed each speaker’s comments.

William Mosier, speaking on behalf of his parents who live on Cornwallis Avenue, had a number of questions. Would a small pond in the northwest corner of the neighborhood continue to be maintained with an agreement for communal use? He said since the trees were cut down four years ago, the pond is at the lowest point it has ever been. Would Pickrell be cleaning up the “pile of stumps” on the west part of the property, or would they stay that way? Would restrictive covenants speaking to the size of homes to be built be included in the revised PDD? Would a “small discrepancy” concerning the lot line between his parents’ home and Bridlewood be resolved?

City Planner Shawn Putnam, who acts as CPC adviser and secretary, said he could look into answering Mosier’s questions.

Local real estate agent Robert Horton, who lives in Springdale, came forward to “officially submit” alternatives to Walker and Pickrell’s plan. One of the highlights of Horton’s ideas was to require Pickrell to install a Type D buffer around those sides of the property not facing Springdale Drive. The PDD calls for a Type B buffer -- 15 to 20 feet worth of vegetation that would screen the property from neighboring lots. In the original plan, that buffer was to be augmented by the proposed horse trail. Without it, said Horton, the Type B buffer would not be sufficient.

“It’s been three, four years and nothing’s been done,” Horton said. “We would like to see something done, but would like something more than a Type (B) buffer. Once you approve the site plan, they can build what they want: $1 million homes or $100,000 homes.”

Putnam said a Type D buffer would be about 40 feet thick.

Horton’s other suggestions included making sure all the new homes face the subdivision’s new streets and not Cornwallis Avenue or Springdale Drive; that restrictions be placed on any home built on a lot facing Cornwallis Avenue; installing a deceleration lane on Springdale Drive to help slow traffic as it approaches the neighborhood’s entrance; and maintaining a cul-de-sac at the end of one of the new roads approaching Cornwallis Avenue.

Putnam and commissioners noted that could not be the case because under Pickrell’s new plan, there would be more than 30 homes in Bridlewood. City ordinances requiring two entrances/exits in subdivisions of 30 or more homes.

“We don’t know how long the real estate market is going to be like this,” Horton said, noting that subdivisions created or annexed in Camden ahead of the housing bust have built few homes in what were supposed to be large neighborhoods. “The reason for the PDD was to have a gated community, but you can’t have a gated property now with that many lots.”

John Cook, a surveyor whose parents live in Springdale, accompanied Horton to the podium.

“My parents have been looking at this clear-cut property every day,” Cook said. “We need a more substantial buffer. Type D is the most substantial and should be put on the front end of the construction sequence.”

Also speaking Tuesday night was Sunny Hill resident Wendell Mosier, who echoed many of the other comments. He added that Springdale Drive has always been very dangerous.

“A DOT (department of transportation) study needs to be done and we need a deceleration lane,” Wendell Mosier said. “Thank goodness there’s been no loss of life, but we’ve had 18-wheelers and other vehicles go off the road. When Springdale Drive becomes part of the bypass, there’ll be even more traffic going down there.”

Most of the commission appeared to agree with Springdale residents’ concerns.

Commissioner Joanna Craig noted she was not present when the commission recommended Camden City Council’s approval of Bridlewood’s 2008 PDD.

“I did know that a lot of things were said then, but they didn’t happen. I do think we need a traffic study with Wal-Mart nearby and all the things out there,” Craig said. “I think it would be prudent to look into that.”

Craig also agreed with the idea of looking at installing a deceleration lane approaching the neighborhood.

Commissioner Jim Burns said he was concerned the number of lots would no longer “mesh” with the original intent of the PDD. Putnam pointed out, however, that a major advantage of PDDs for developers is their flexibility.

“But with the original PDD, the lots were bigger and there were plans to plant magnolia trees,” Burns noted. “Will those remain in place?”

Putnam said they would.

“Because of the preliminary plat,” he said. “Before the city can issues permits, they must complete everything on the preliminary plat or post a performance bond for infrastructure if not complete. Landscaping would have to be included.”

Burns agreed, however, that restrictive covenants might be a good idea. Walker said that Pickrell intended for restrictive covenants to be included in the PDD, but did not state what type of restrictions might be put in place.

Commissioner Johnny Deal said he agreed with what the majority was saying, but was concerned about what might happen if they didn’t approve the PDD change.

“I’m hearing that if we don’t approve the change, it will continue to look the way it looks,” Deal said. “If we approve it, then we have the chance to get some greenspace.”

Deal also said Camden needs lots in the size and price range Walker had mentioned. Craig disagreed and the crowd responded with applause.

“The developer came in 2008 with a big plan. There was a nose dive. Personally, I think it’s too many. I’m not saying we don’t need different sizes, but I don’t think that if we don’t approve this, it will be like it is in perpetuity,” Craig said. “We spend a lot of time talking about greenspace, but when the chance comes for a developer to put in a lot of lots, that’s what we seem to do. It seems like the developer is trying to get advantage of as many lots as they can. Is that the way we want Camden to go? I’m aware greenspace is not a requirement, but it seems like every time we move toward that, we move back from it.”

Burns noted that city council is the authority, that the commission just makes recommendations.

“I agree with you, I agree with the applause, but we have to deal with the way things are, and that’s not here,” he said.

There was a long wait after Chairman Bill Ligon asked for a motion to approve the PDD change. Finally -- and after getting confirmation that they could include a requirement for a traffic study with the vote -- Deal made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Charles Wood. The vote was unanimous, after which nearly the entire audience vacated the chamber.

CPC members also voted unanimously to approve another request from Walker: preliminary approval for developer Randy Bock to cut a road extension between the Southern Oaks and Black River Place subdivisions, effectively creating one neighborhood. Black River Place is nearing the 30-lot limit which would trigger the need for a second entrance. By linking the two subdivisions, Walker said, both would have the second accesses they would need.

Also, due to city council’s decision Tuesday morning to move its fourth Tuesday of the month meetings from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., the CPC unanimously voted to move its meetings from the fourth Tuesday to the third Tuesday of each month. Meetings will still begin at 6 p.m. Its next meeting will be March 20.

Members then moved to a small conference room to continue work on updating the city zoning ordinance. Tuesday night’s session focused on tree conservation and landscaping.

Interested in viewing premium content?

A subscription is required before viewing this article and other premium content.

Already a registered member and have a subscription?

If you have already purchased a subscription, please log in to view the full article.

Are you registered, but do not have a subscription?

If you are a registed user and would like to purchase a subscription, log in to view a list of available subscriptions.

Interested in becoming a registered member and purchasing a subscription?

Join our community today by registering for a FREE account. Once you have registered for a FREE account, click SUBSCRIBE NOW to purchase access to premium content.

Membership Benefits

  • Instant access to creating Blogs, Photo Albums, and Event listings.
  • Email alerts with the latest news.
  • Access to commenting on articles.

Contents of this site are © Copyright 2014 Chronicle Independent All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...