Vote NO to RE-ZONING 15 Acres on Historic LaRoche Ave from Single-Family to Multi-Family

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Late last year, housing developers purchased the Woo property – set among six single family homes that face LaRoche, just north of Riverview and south of Herb River Bend. They are now requesting a re-zoning from R-1 (single family) to R-3-5 (multi-family at 5 units per acre) for 6705, 6609 & 0 LaRoche Avenue; 6714 Howard Foss Drive. That would amount to 57 units on the ~15 acres that they have amassed. MPC staff has indicated that they are recommending approval to the Planning Commission at the next meeting on Tuesday, April 3 (NEW DATE: Tuesday, May 15 @ 1:30). We strongly urge the Planning Commissioners to deny the application.

[Agenda item and attachments will be linked here for the May 15th meeting once they are posted.]

We, as nearby community members and residents who deeply care about the natural beauty and slow-paced character of this area, collectively oppose the re-zoning. We request that the current R-1 zoning be maintained for the following reasons:

  1. Re-zoning to multi-family will add an intensity of development that is incompatible to the existing community character and unique sense of place along the Herb River and the historic LaRoche Avenue Corridor. The existing single family zoning (R-1) is essential to maintaining the natural beauty and unique character of the area.
  2. The new zoning to R-3 would generate much more traffic than the existing R-1 zoning classification on an already dangerous road. With only one entry/exit road, this would equate to 570 new daily trips on LaRoche, based on the general rule of thumb of 10 trips per day per household. Safety on LaRoche is already a serious concern, particularly on this portion of the road near blind curves where there are frequent accidents.
  3. The change to multi-family will significantly alter the neighborhood fabric from the well-established single family residential that has existed for many years. Increasing density across 15 acres will be in stark contrast to the surrounding development pattern. Only one multi-family development exists along this part of LaRoche at Fiddler's Crossing. It is a very small development of 14 units -- nothing close to 57 units. (If zoning is approved, the applicant will seek a future variance to decrease lot sizes from 60-feet to 50-feet wide, further densifying the neighborhood fabric.)
  4. This is a long-established and mostly built-out community where change is very slow and density is not projected. There is no justification to expect further density in this area per the Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map, therefore the rezoning would be contrary to MPC's planning documents. The MPC's Future Land Use Map (dated 2015) depicts these parcels as Single Family Residential Suburban -- for detached single family homes. If approved, this could set a precedent for additional upzoning in Southeast Chatham.
  5. There is no need for “transitional zoning” in this area along LaRoche Avenue, which was a justification given for this change in zoning. Riverview is a very low intensity use and does not need a transition.
  6. There would be loss of exceptional live oaks and other mature canopy trees. The site contains very large trees and is heavily-wooded, but the applicant’s Development Plan appears to place buildings, graded roads and graded ponds in proximity to or on top of existing mature trees and their critical root zones. Tree preservation is not seriously considered in this project and cannot be achieved with an R-3 zoning.

We want to be clear: we are not against all development. We simply request that the Planning Commission uphold the existing zoning as appropriate to long-standing development patterns and the community's rich character and sense of place.



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