By Matt Montgomery
Thursday night, the Piedmont City Council approved the preliminary plat for the Planned Unit Development(PUD), making way for a local developer to begin a building project aimed at commercial development in the downtown Piedmont area.
In a prepared statement to the Piedmont-Surrey Gazette, local developer Phil Boevers stated, “SBS Development is pleased that a majority of the Council followed Piedmont’s ordinances, the advice of legal counsel and staff recommendations and approved the preliminary plat for what is planned to be a quality residential development for Piedmont. We look forward to continuing to work with Piedmont to increase economic activity and help generate additional revenues for the city with this type of quality growth.”
In a 2-2 vote, with both Al Gleichmann and Donnie Robinson voting ‘no’ and Charles Coffman and Bobby Williamson voting ‘yes,’ Piedmont Mayor Valerie Thomerson used her mayoral vote to approve the preliminary plat. She said she voted ‘yes’ because she trusted the planning commission’s decision to approve the PUD back in February. Councilman Robert Simpson abstained from casting his vote.
“Based on the fact that we have a current city attorney who has spoken to former city attorney Don Davis, and he said this falls within our guidelines,” Thomerson said. “I understand where the planning commission is coming from and I am hearing what their saying, but it (PUD) complies. “I’ve heard many times when I was an employee for this city and was sitting in this chair,” Thomerson said. “What is the point of having a planning commission if we don’t follow their recommendations? I don’t see any reason to hold this up. My vote is Yes.”
The PUD was originally passed in 2008, with amendments made in 2010, 2012 and the most recent one the planning commission approved last month.
Hawks Landing and Autumn Chase are residential developments proposed for Piedmont. The piece of land for these developments is located South of Edmond Road Northeast and East of Piedmont Road North with access to the site provided by Gooder Simpson Boulevard, approximately 835 feet south of Edmond Road Northeast off the east side of Piedmont Road North. The plat is comprised of 37 single-family lots and eight duplex lots. The proposed plat has an average lot size of 10,200 square feet, with the largest plot being 16,378 square feet and the smallest being 8,227 square feet.
“This will help spur some commercial growth,” said Piedmont Planning Commissioner Ron Cardwell. “Especially downtown Piedmont, an area where future commercial development could occur.”
Cardwell said the city’s tax base is based on commercial growth. “We have the supply with the land in place for commercial growth but we need to increase the demand for growth to occur.” He said the demand is based on Piedmont’s population.
Some questions arose during the council meeting regarding drainage and the amount and locations of detention ponds in the proposed plat. Also, water and sewer line diameters and water line routing were discussed. Traffic studies were also looked at, and Piedmont Community Development Director Wade Harden said the traffic study done on this preliminary plat proposal showed the traffic to be comparable to other Piedmont developments.
Residential development in the downtown Piedmont area is needed and increasing Piedmont’s population will lead to increased commerce for local stores such as Williams, Dollar General, Piedmont Pharmacy, Sonic and Subway.
“You get a few more people, then other commercial businesses might look at coming into Piedmont,” Cardwell said.
Cardwell said the economic conditions of the country, specifically the housing collapse that happened several years ago, has an effect on development. He said if things continue to stay stable, then Piedmont will continue to see more residential and commercial growth.
Cardwell added there are going to be some limitations, stemming from infrastructure needs, which effect the entire development of the land. He said the development can not be built on the existing infrastructure like it is now.
“The city also has to be able to prepare itself to figure out a way or make sure the developer knows, ‘Hey, you’re going to reach a threshold when some capital investments are going to have to be made,’” he said. “Water is one of those big concerns, because Piedmont Road only has that one water line.”
For future development to succeed, Cardwell said making changes to the existing water lines in that area is going to be a primary focus. He said the existing water line may have to be looped around the city and that section of land.
He said some sharing of information between the city council, planning commission and developers is necessary.
“There needs to be an understanding that development pays for development,” Cardwell said. “The city’s got a payback policy for infrastructure that other people [should]get the opportunity to use.”