Planned older-adult mega development near Lake Norman hits snag

jmarusak@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 4, 2014 

— The Lincoln County Planning Board wants the developer of the county’s largest proposed subdivision to settle differences with a neighboring rock quarry before the board will consider endorsing the 1,650-home project near Lake Norman.

Arizona-based Shea Homes plans to build Carolina Ridge on 589 primarily wooded acres on the south side of N.C. 73 west of Little Egypt Road in eastern Lincoln, near four-lane N.C. 16.

The community, several miles southwest of the lake, would be geared mostly toward adults 55 and older. The development would be one of the largest older adult communities in the Charlotte area. The largest, Sun City Carolina Lakes in Fort Mill and Indian Land, S.C., has about 2,900 homes, with plans for 3,400 eventually, a spokeswoman has said.

In 2006, PulteGroup proposed a similar development on the same acreage where Carolina Ridge is planned, but the recession hit, and the project never began.

Carolina Ridge hopes to begin construction this year and finish the community by 2021. But the developer hit a snag Monday night when representatives of the neighboring Lake Norman Rock Quarry complained that the developer hasn’t cooperated with the company.

The quarry, which has operated off Little Egypt Road for several decades, wants Shea Homes to provide several hundred more feet of distance between its project and the quarry and to build a berm separating the properties.

Quarry lawyer Craig Justus told government officials Monday night that the former PulteGroup had agreed to bar its homeowners from suing the quarry for simply existing beside the proposed development. But Justus said Shea Homes hasn’t responded to the quarry’s repeated attempts to negotiate property setbacks and other measures.

“Is it fair for us as a three-decade-old quarry to ask for some dialogue, instead of being stonewalled?” Justus asked the commissioners and Planning Board members.

Shea Homes representatives at the meeting said the company has decided not to bar Carolina Ridge residents from suing the quarry if residents ever chose to over noise and potential effects of blasting operations on their homes.

Walter Fields, a local consultant for the developer, also noted that the nearest home site to the active part of the quarry would be about 800 feet away. “That separation (the quarry wants) is there,” Fields told the boards.

Late Monday, the Planning Board voted 7-0 to table the developer’s permit request for Carolina Ridge until March 3. The board directed the developer to try to work out an agreement with the quarry and address concerns about construction traffic.

All but up to 300 of the homes in Carolina Ridge will be age-restricted. Carolina Ridge plans to have a mix of single-family attached and detached homes from 1,000 square feet to 3,500 square feet, according to a report Fields submitted to the county. Streets will have sidewalks on one side. Standard single-family detached home lots will be 3,000 square feet.

Most of the property is owned by members of the Clark family and their land-development companies, according to incorporation records on file with the N.C. Secretary of State’s office in Raleigh. The family has been among the largest landholders in eastern Lincoln County for many decades.

At least 30 percent of the site will be left undeveloped. Walking and/or bike trails are planned.

Marusak: 704-358-5067; Twitter: @jmarusak

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