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Developer sinks Sinking Creek plan to build student-housing complex

March 19th, 2014 9:09 pm by Gary B. Gray

Developer sinks Sinking Creek plan to build student-housing complex

North Carolina’s Stonegate Developers has pulled its proposal to build a $12 million student-housing complex in Washington County just outside the Johnson City limits in the Sinking Creek Road neighborhood.

Washington County Zoning Administrator Mike Rutherford received a message Tuesday from Stonegate co-owner Dale Tweedy indicating the company’s desire not to build on nearly 64 acres east of Hickory Springs Road — a dead end road under which Sinking Creek flows.

The mountainous and tree covered property lies just beyond the upper end of Hickory Springs. The Charlotte-area developer had wanted to build a 119- to 150-unit development comprised of stand-alone, four-bedroom cottages. Apparently, conversations with members of that neighborhood in a recent meeting caused the company to inform Rutherford they would pass on the location and perhaps look elsewhere in and around Johnson City for an alternate site.

“I think they brought to his attention how steep the area is, as well as other concerns — concerns besides traffic,” Rutherford said.

Tweedy was not immediately available for comment.

“They appeared to be friendly and concerned,” said Don Spurrell, a local attorney who owns land adjacent to the proposed site, and a neighborhood spokesman. “I didn’t get the impression they were malicious, but they seemed very, very uninformed. I don’t believe they really knew the lay of the land.”

Spurrell said the developers would have had to jump through a lot of hoops, including state and federal environmental testing, implementation of requirements involving dealing with various animal species and the building of various retention ponds and storm water requirements.

“I think they finally realized we had legitimate points,” he said. “This was an ill-advised venture.”

Washington County Zoning Administrator Mike Rutherford said more than 50 people filled his conference room last week. He said the meeting with developers was “very civilized” but that no one spoke in favor of the development except the developers. Attorney and Sinking Creek resident Bill Francisco also showed up with a petition containing 72 signatures of people in opposition to the plan.

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