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Cary Zoning, Planning and Appeals Board votes against Pedcor variance request

CARY – Cheers erupted from a crowd of residents after Cary’s Zoning, Planning and Appeals Board on Thursday voted against a variance request for the previously approved Pedcor project.

After a scathing review by Chairman Joseph Turnier of statements from Pedcor that, in his own opinion, “bordered on deceit,” he voted against recommending the request, breaking a 3-3 tie.

Members Patrick Jasper, Holly Kelps and James Graziano voted in favor, while Jennifer Meyer, Patrick Khoury and Frank O’Laughlin voted against.

“I’m really excited,” resident Kathleen Scott said after the three-hour meeting ended. “I think we were successful in getting them to pay attention.”

The contentious affordable housing project was brought back to the zoning board after a miscalculation in lot coverage was discovered while Pedcor was going through the permitting process, Community Development Director Brian Simmons said. The village requires no more than 45 percent lot coverage, and Pedcor was requesting an increase to 55 percent.

“The plans that were submitted had 56 percent open space, and that inferred 44 percent lot coverage,” Simmons said. “That was how it was reviewed ... but that calculation was an error where it had additional area that should’ve been included in [impervious area].”

Turnier said it was misleading of the petitioner to convey compliance, while Pedcor Vice President Michael Smith later said the miscalculation was a “simple oversight by many people who were looking at it.”

More than 100 people filed into Cary Junior High’s gym/auditorium, where the meeting was held to accommodate the larger audience anticipated.

Some trickled out as the meeting wore on, but not before more than 30 spoke in opposition, pleading with the board to vote against the request. A number of statements roused enthusiastic applause, loud hoots of support and standing ovations from fellow residents.

An option brought by Pedcor to address the loss of pervious area was porous asphalt, about which board members had a number of questions.

As far as what options Pedcor now has after what will be a negative recommendation to the Village Board, Village Administrator Chris Clark said village counsel will be reviewing the process.

“We will need to determine a venue, the guidelines and rules for what their decisions are,” Clark said.

The project first was proposed to the village in spring 2014. It was approved with a 4-2 vote a couple months later in June, and another vote in July resulted in a tie that failed to halt the project despite heavy community opposition.

Pushback from residents started during the consideration process, with people citing issues such as proximity to existing low-income housing, property values and a slew of others.

The campaign against the project included the Cary Matters Political Action Committee and a website, both in which current Village Board Trustee Jim Cosler was heavily involved.

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