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Peaceful living? Some Conway residents up in arms over looming housing development

Collins Jollie Road development meeting gets heated

A Conway meeting to discuss a rezoning request for 673 acres off Collins Jollie Road to be changed to a planned development (PD) that would result in smaller lots and some commercial building became heated when several residents got upset.
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A Conway meeting to discuss a rezoning request for 673 acres off Collins Jollie Road to be changed to a planned development (PD) that would result in smaller lots and some commercial building became heated when several residents got upset.

A giant new subdivision is on the verge of coming to the outskirts of Conway, but a meeting to discuss those plans got heated when some attendees began to voice their concerns.

In the coming years, hundreds of acres of land off Collins Jollie Road could be developed to have a mix of nearly 2,000 dwelling units and commercial properties. Residents in the area are concerned these new homes will lead to more flooding, worse traffic and loss of community character.

“I moved to Conway to be in the county, peaceful living, not to be in another Carolina Forest,” nearby homeowner James DeCaro said.

A public hearing was held Monday evening to give more details on unapproved plans to bring nearly 2,000 homes into a planned district on Collins Jollie Road on the outskirts of Conway.

No decisions were made as it was merely for the engineers to hear public concerns.

DDC Engineers President Mike Wooten fielded questions from the public and listened to criticism of the proposed plans to rezone the property from its current R1 zoning code — low-density residential — to a planned development district — which allows for a variety of land uses. The land was annexed into the City of Conway about a decade ago, Wooten said.

While both zoning codes would allow for homes to be built, the rezoning would call for about 200 more homes to be built.

“This is not about if this project will be developed or not. I want that to be clear. It’s about what will go there,” Wooten said.

Wooten represents a developer that wants to bring in a mix of single-family homes, multi-family dwellings and four commercial lots into the development. There would be almost 60 acres of water retention ponds to help meet the city’s stormwater standards.

Hypothetically, Wooten said the multi-family units could be taken out of the project.

The project will require expanding Collins Jollie Road to three lanes with a designated turning lane. A public park will also be built on the site and given to the city if the current plans are approved.

The developer is willing to pay a one-time impact of $500 per unit and to set up a four-mill special tax district for the subdivision that will last forever. Wooten said this will help cover any strains the new residents will create on public safety and infrastructure.

“We believe development should go a long way to pay for itself,” Wooten said.

A key concern was the commercial businesses being brought into the development. Several of the folks at the meeting said they don’t mind driving four or five miles to get to a store. They like the rural nature.

“Even though I know we’re getting this, the commercial aspect of it and the multifamily aspect of it seems like it takes away so much,” said Bryan Coggeshall, whose family owns property next to the land.

Wooten said the area where the development is going will be suburban, not rural like some of the residents were saying. Some members of the crowd strongly disagreed with Wooten’s assessment of their area as suburban.

“You’re bringing the value of my house down putting that in there,” DeCaro said, raising his voice. “It’s utterly ridiculous.”

City council is expected to make its first vote on this project at its first October meeting. If approved on first reading, the second reading and public input will be held on Oct. 21.

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