Cary resident petitions for better planning as town grows
Posted April 23, 2014
Cary, N.C. — West Cary's Highcroft neighborhood is in high demand. Just ask Scott Hoyt, who moved in seven years ago.
“We couldn’t be happier with the way things are,” he said. “We’re a little concerned with where things are going.”
Hoyt is talking about the hundreds of houses under construction near Highcroft Drive Elementary School, which is currently operating at 114 percent of intended capacity. It’s a similar situation at Mills Park Elementary School, which is at 108 percent, and Mills Park Middle School, which is at 112 percent.
“We need to take a break and assess the situation, so we can be smarter about development,” Hoyt said.
School overcrowding is one reason why Hoyt created an online petition on change.org.
In 2000, Cary had about 95,000 residents. That number burgeoned to more than 138,000 in 2011.
Assistant Town Manager Russ Overton said Cary's growth decisions are largely based on traffic counts, land-use plans and public safety, not schools.
“We share data with the county and/or the school system,” he said. “And that’s the limit of our role.”
Wake County Board of Education member Bill Fletcher said school construction is not keeping pace with residential construction, and that creates a quality-of-life issue for residents.
He said more revenue is needed to build new schools or expand existing ones. Wake County voters approved an $810 million school bond referendum to deal with growth.
“It probably does mean higher taxes,” Fletcher said.
Hoyt said all the public agencies involved in land development should work together.
“We kind of need everyone to get together and say, ‘How does what we do here affect these different areas?’” he said. “The schools, public safety, traffic. That’s what we’re kind of unhappy about.”
Jayne Kirkpatrick, spokeswoman for the City of Raleigh, said city leaders look at school capacity when making development and growth decisions.