The Conway City Council Monday night overwhelming approved a new housing community for more than 500 students, despite objections from Wild Wing residents who say the new neighbors will create traffic headaches and safety issues for the area.
The council voted 6-1 in favor of the rezoning request for the project, which will be built on 20 acres next to the Aldi store already under construction at U.S. 501 and Wild Wing Boulevard.
Charlie Vatterott, vice president of development for the proposed Aspen Heights community, told the council that switching from commercial use to student housing would reduce traffic and improve safety.
Vatterott said the traffic projections are less than it would have been, if developed as zoned for commercial use.
“There is nothing we can do at this point to avoid serious development, we can just contain it at this point,” said Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy.
Wild Wing residents wearing lime green shirts that read “We vote too” packed the council chambers and urged city officials to table the decision until another traffic study could be conducted when Coastal Carolina University is in session.
Residents laughed when it was suggested that an additional 500 residents would only add a few seconds of traffic time during the red light wait to get onto U.S. 501.
“It’s already a headache and a nightmare,” said Wild Wing resident Barbara Eisenhardt.
Residents told the council they would rather see a hotel developed on the site.
Part of the property was already planned for student housing, but developers acquired an additional eight acres from the Aldi project, which prompted the rezoning request.
Critics of the proposal say this allowed for developers to abandon the original student housing plan that required traffic to access the area by U.S. 501 only.
City officials said that putting the entrance on U.S. 501 was too dangerous.
The new community development for students will be cottage style, two-story duplex apartments. Students will be permitted to rent one bedroom of each duplex, which will have two to three bedrooms.
The fenced development will have its own security guards with community amenities that include a swimming pool and shuttle service to the university.