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Neighbors fight plans for Cary office park

Posted July 23, 2008
Updated July 24, 2008

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— Neighbors once again are fighting plans to develop an area at the intersection of Piney Plains and Stephens roads in northeast Cary.

Wimberly Associates wants to develop a 450,000-square-foot office park on the 16-acre site near Cary Crossroads. Residents of the nearby Wellington Park subdivision said increased stormwater runoff could flood their property and worry about traffic congestion in the area.

"We're not against development, and we're probably not against an office park. But the scope of the office park that they are proposing we are against," said Ruth Merkle, a board member for the Wellington Park Homeowners Association.

Attorneys for Wimberly Associates have met with residents three times in recent months to discuss their concerns, and they said they have added numerous details to the site plan to accommodate them, including retention ponds, tree buffers and additional landscaping.

Some neighbors contend the accommodations aren't enough.

"I do appreciate the developer's efforts to listen to our concerns, but just because they're listening doesn't mean that (an office park is) the responsible thing to do," Wellington Park resident Kenneth Mastro said.

Attorney Gray Styers said an office park would be a good fit between Crossroads and nearby subdivisions.

"We need good transition of land use, and an office park serves that very very well," Styers said. "An office park will increase the tax base for Cary."

Two years ago, Wimberly Associates proposed a 350-unit condominium development for the site. The Cary Town Council rejected the plans after neighbors protested.

The developer filed suit against Cary over the failed project, alleging the plan met all town requirements. Styers said the lawsuit would be withdrawn if the town allows the office park to move forward.

Some residents said they fear town leaders will approve the plan to avoid the lawsuit. Styers said his clients want to avoid another protest.

A public hearing on Wimberly Associates' request to rezone the property for an office park proposal is scheduled for Thursday evening during the Town Council meeting. The plans are expected to go before the planning board in September and return to the Town Council in October.

Because residents have filed valid protest petitions against the office park plans, six of seven Town Council members would have to approve the plans.


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  • SheriffTruman Jul 25, 2008

    haggis basher, feel free to buy the land and you can keep all the trees there you like.

    AS far as offering to drop the lawsuit if this is approved, they may even have to drop it because once the land is built as an office park, they can't exactly build condos there and lawsuits like this are not asking for damages or potential profits, just that the land be zoned they way they want it to be.

  • haggis basher Jul 24, 2008

    16 acres of trees versus another car park and office building?
    I'll take the trees anytime.

  • Concerned Resident Jul 24, 2008

    "That would be called armed robbery..."

    Well, yes, of course. :) My point was to put a different face on the concept. The concept is that a threat will be removed in exchange for getting something that you want.

    The question is whether or not the developer's actions would be called coercion. I'm not sure I would go that far, but again, something doesn't seem right with using the promise of removal of a lawsuit as a means of motivation for getting something outside the lawsuit itself.

    Regardless - I don't think Wellington Park is particularly concerned about the lawsuit issue - extortion or not. I can't speak for everybody, though.

    Personally, I just want to prevent our property from being further damaged by nearby development. If existing problems are solved and they can develop reasonably responsibly, then there would be little to no reason for any objections from my point of view.

  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Jul 24, 2008

    That is a variation of extortion. That would be called armed robbery...

  • Concerned Resident Jul 24, 2008

    Regarding the 'extortion' thread - something does seem a little off here.

    For an analogy, say you're walking down the street and bump into some guy. An argument ensues and he pulls a gun - let's assume he's perfectly allowed to pull the gun to defend himself. He then tells you that for an apology and a donation of 10 dollars to his favorite charity, he'll holster the gun and walk away.

    The similarities to that scenario are why some people think this feels like extortion. I'm not a lawyer, but like I said - something doesn't seem right here.


    As for buying land in a low-lying area - it's not particularly low-lying - it's just downstream. It's also been there for years with no problems.

    With a normally very quiet creek in my back yard, I'm perfectly willing to accept that it might flood on rare occasions.

    What I have a hard time accepting is the fact that recent unchecked development has forced the community to deal with everybody else's flooding problems.

  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Jul 24, 2008

    It is extortion if you have a legitimate reason for the first lawsuit and "offer" to drop it to force another issue down the throats of opposition with no other concessions!

    These developers are well practiced at this extortion game. They have obviously amassed enough wealth to be able to waste it on lawyers and frivolous lawsuits and are sure to threaten lawsuits at the drop of a hat whenever things don't go, exclusively, their way.

  • superman Jul 24, 2008

    Trying to reach an agreement and making known the options is not extortion-- If I tell you i will drop my lawsuit if you pay your account is just trying to get to a fair settlement. If you buy land in a low lying area-- what do you expect except water run off? Maybe they should move to New Orleans. You cant expect others not to develop their land because of water run off-- you knew it when you moved there--

  • Concerned Resident Jul 24, 2008

    I live in Wellington Park and my back yard floods during moderate to heavy rain. I'm not against this development - I just want the existing flooding problem solved before we add to it. The existing flooding was caused by the 1&64 widening - everything was apparently fine before that. I can't fix that myself.

    Others have some more legitimate concerns regarding noise and traffic, but I don't have much skin in that game. The office park is a reasonable use of the land if problems with traffic, noise, and flooding are handled.

    By the way - this developer is the same one who developed Crossroads. He was (apparently) a bit of a bully to people when they opposed his rezoning request a couple years ago.

    In reality, the community opposition fought the proposal before because of how egregious it was. The _pro-development_ town council of the time _and_ the zoning board agreed with them. The new plan addresses many concerns, but not all. Plus, it still exacerbates the existing problems.

  • SheriffTruman Jul 24, 2008

    I can promise that someone cut trees down for these people's houses. Now they don't want the next guy to be able to.

    If these residents are so "in favor of development, just not this" like they say, maybe they should band toegether and buy the property. Then they can build exactly what they want on it or even nothing. Of course, when they have some money tied up, I bet they would not be so keen to let it sit there, unused.

  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Jul 24, 2008

    "The developer filed suit against Cary over the failed project, alleging the plan met all town requirements. Styers said the lawsuit would be withdrawn if the town allows the office park to move forward."

    This sounds like extortion to me? How do developers get away with crimes like this? "I'll drop the lawsuit if you tell the people to go jump in a lake."