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Quaker, developers agree to property swap

Will provide greater buffer to historic cemetery from proposed housing

Posted: October 16, 2017 5:27 p.m.
Updated: October 17, 2017 1:00 a.m.

The Quaker Cemetery Association Board of Directors and the prospective developers of more than 23 acres of adjacent land who plan to create a new residential development have agreed to a small property swap in order to create a greater buffer between the historic cemetery and future neighborhood.

The board’s chairperson, Roy Fakoury, spoke about the agreement during Camden City Council’s Oct. 10 meeting because council was taking up second reading of an ordinance rezoning the 23.3-acre site from general business district to residential R-6. R-6 zoning provides for the smallest residential lot sizes at 6,000 square feet.

Fakoury -- who said he joined the association’s board six months ago and recently became chairman -- told council that Quaker’s caretakers were concerned the new development would negatively impact the 258-year-old cemetery. However, Fakoury said the board and Robert Lackey, who is representing the prospective developer, met the previous day and came to the property swap agreement.

“We all have loved ones who are buried on these historic grounds,” Fakoury said. “The cemetery association’s primary concern is the affect that such rezoning and development will have on the integrity, appeal, financial (health) and historical significance of this 258-year-old cemetery. Specifically, we’re concerned about graves that border the adjoining line by mere feet.”

Fakoury said after meeting with Lackey last week and again on Monday, the board believes there is an “agreement in principle” that will be acceptable to both sides. Having handed out a graphic of the property and cemetery ahead of time, Fakoury said the agreement would have the prospective developers of the property -- which is currently owned by members of the Ehrenclou family -- and the cemetery swap an equal amount of property.

“(It) represents an additional 15 feet,” Fakoury said, referring to 15 feet of additional buffer between the graves he had mentioned and the proposed residential development. “The cemetery association feels that while we have concerns about the potential rezoning, the new property lines provide some buffer to the planned development as it protects a fairly dense wooded strip of land.”

In exchange, Fakoury said the association would give over a similar amount of cemetery property at its northwestern property line near Ehrenclou Drive.

Lackey, who attended the meeting, but did not formally speak, confirmed for Fakoury that the he and the developers agreed with “everything he said.” Fakoury also asked council to communicate the particulars of the agreement to the Camden Planning Commission.

Council took up the second reading of the rezoning ordinance later in the meeting. At that time, Councilman Stephen Smoak asked if the agreement required council to table second reading. City Planner Shawn Putnam said he didn’t see any reason to postpone the vote. In addition, City Manager Mel Pearson said that if at any point the agreement led to more than the 15-foot exchange, it would be handled as a separate matter.

Council voted unanimously, 4-0, with Councilman Jeffrey Graham absent, to pass second reading of the rezoning ordinance. The planning commission will deal with specifics of the proposed development at a later date, separately from the property’s zoning classification.

Also during the meeting, council voted 3-0-1, with Smoak abstaining, on first reading of an ordinance to give up half of a 90-foot right-of-way on Wateree Street to the adjoining property owners. The primary beneficiary of this move will be Camden AL LLC, a limited liability corporation of the Affinity Living Group of Hickory, N.C.

On behalf of Affinity, Camden AL purchased a total of 4.54 acres of property fronting Broad and Wateree streets in January with a 20-year first right of refusal on an additional .53 acre lot. Affinity plans to build an assisted living/memory care center on the site, which was cleared in June to begin preparing for construction.

Company representatives said Affinity will build a 64-bed facility with 24 of the rooms set aside for memory care residents and the remaining 40 for assisted living residents. The memory care portion of the facility will be specially designed for residents with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other memory-related conditions.

“In order for that economic development to take place, they need as much space on the frontage on Broad Street as they can have and we have a frequency of use for Wateree Street that is very low,” Pearson explained to council. “We’re recommending to you to reduce that right of way to 45 feet so that the adjoining owners on both the north side of Wateree Street and the south side will pick up an additional 22 and a half feet of that right of way.”

While Camden AL LLC owns most of the property on the south side, two lots are owned by private individuals. Two large lots on the north side of Wateree Street include the Old Presbyterian Burial Ground that actually fronts Meeting Street and property owned by Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site.

(The online version of this story, including its headline, have been updated to correctly identifiy the party agreeing to the property swap with Quaker Cemetery as the potential developer of the 23.3-acre site on Campbell Street and not the current owners of the tract.)

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