Home USA News Rezoning could lead to new development on Slatestone Drive – Washington Daily...

Rezoning could lead to new development on Slatestone Drive – Washington Daily News

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The rezoning could lead to new development on Slatestone Drive

Posted at 12:00 p.m. Saturday, November 12, 2022

A local small business owner, Mohammed Darrar, wants to add a new apartment complex on 10.53 acres of land at Highland Drive and Slatestone Drive in Washington.

Darar’s goal in building the standard apartment complex is to help solve the housing problem facing Washington by providing more diverse housing options for future residents, namely young people and families. He hopes the apartment complex will attract more job seekers to the area.

The complex is planned for a 10.53-hectare parcel of land and is located on Highland Drive and Slateston Drive. It is adjacent to the Slatestone Hills subdivision, according to documents from the City of Washington Planning and Zoning Department.

At the city council meeting on Monday night (November 14), councilors will hear a request to rezone the land from residential to office and institutional. Zoning planning documents show the current residential zoning is for medium density. However, the proposal to convert to office and institutional is not considered medium density and is not “consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and future land use map.”

Residents in the Slatestone Hills subdivision are growing concerned about a proposed apartment complex. Linda Linton, a neighbor who lives in Slatestone Hills, started a change.org petition gathering signatures from people who oppose the possible construction of the complex. As of Friday, November 11, the petition has 102 signatures.

Linton says Slatestone Hills neighbors are concerned about traffic, the safety of not only the neighbors but also the students at Washington High School because the school is outside the district, rezoning to office and institutional, environmental protection and infrastructure.

Linton wrote in the Daily News that neighbors “have already had to request a police presence to stop high school drivers from speeding through traffic lights. Neighbors walk here daily and I witnessed a pickup truck turn so fast it lost control and hit the curb. Communication will increase car traffic. Even without connecting the streets, pedestrian traffic will increase.” Neighbors are concerned about the potential for increased crime, noise and the loss of trees that provide privacy.

Their concern about the property being rezoned to Office and Institutional is that if Darar decides not to build apartments, then he or any future property owner might decide to build something else. They also have concerns about the wetlands in the area and that it is a flood zone. Finally, they worry about the reliability of electricity and internet, as well as the capacity of sewers and water supplies.

Linton shared with the Daily News her idea for responsible growth in Washington (and by extension Beaufort County) that could help solve the problem of housing options beyond buying a single-family home. Linton said people can “find a lot of housing” by browsing real estate ads.

“Being able to buy a home is one thing,” Linton said, “but I see people struggling to find an affordable rental home, and that’s a challenge.” She added that the high cost of rent and/or many restrictions make it difficult.

She knows that an apartment complex could be the solution; however, she suggests that homeowners who want to relocate may choose to rent their home instead of selling it. She also suggested that the city of Washington and/or Beaufort County could offer tax incentives to homeowners who choose to rent out their homes rather than sell them.

“Only on our street there are houses whose occupants have died and their family is just sitting on the property. It is not for rent. It is not for sale. Just sitting. Maybe a tax break or something like that might encourage people to open up their homes to rent,” Linton said.

Linton said one of the main reasons people choose to move to Washington is because it’s a small town. Her concern is that Washington could become a big city and lose its small-town feel.

“When we talk about welcoming and inviting developers, on the one hand, and on the other hand, we’re talking about people – the very reason they live here is the small-town feel, it sounds like a conflict, in other words, are we listening to people who lives here? That doesn’t seem to be the case,” Linton said.

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