Local Politics

Cary Couple Fights Corporation Over Land Sale, Zoning

Posted January 10, 2008 11:25 p.m. EST

— A Cary couple's plan to sell their land to finance their retirement has met with stiff opposition from a corporation that neighbors their property.

Tommy and Nancy King want to sell their property at the corner of Richard Drive and Harrison Avenue and use the profits to move into a retirement living community.

The couple said they first offered the land three years ago to Jim Goodnight, the founder of SAS, which has its main campus along Harrison Avenue.

"We just thought it was a simple matter of contacting Dr. Goodnight, and he would probably want it," Nancy King said. "We thought he had the best use for it."

SAS, though, passed on the offer, and the Kings made a deal to sell the property to the Soleil Group for $475,000 an acre. Soleil planned to build a mix of residential and retail properties – including an eight-story hotel – on the property.

However, during the late stages of the approval process, SAS filed with the town of Cary to block the development and submitted an alternative plan.

"We were so excited, and then just shocked out of our wits when SAS protested," Nancy King said. "He (Goodnight) said, 'Sell to whomever you please,' and we thought we had his blessings."

SAS representatives said the computer-software company wants the land next to its campus to be developed in line with its vision for the area. That vision does not include a large residential-retail mix, company officials said.

"The most important thing to realize is that we don't oppose the sale of land. We oppose the rezoning of the land," Dave Thomas, with SAS, said.

SAS' proposal for the land includes several office buildings and a school.

"We just want to make sure that what happens with that land is the best use for the land," Thomas said.

Both plans are before the Cary Town Council, which does not expect to issue any decisions before April. Two council members are SAS employees and will recuse themselves from a vote on the issue.

The Kings said they are willing to put their dreams on hold and try to work out a compromise.

"No, (it's) not a nightmare, but  we're hoping it can be really compatible for everybody," Nancy King said. "As I said before, two great plans. Let's integrate them. Let's let everybody win."