While Woodbrook resident’s experience with the new North Town Center Development abutting the neighborhood on its north side varies, they are in agreement about one thing. They do not want to see a car dealership built on the site.
In a late November 2013 survey of residents, almost 80% of the forty-four homes responding said that they were opposed to the construction of an automobile dealership on the site. That’s compared to just 35% who said they were opposed to the recently constructed Gander Mountain store in the Center.
That’s not to say that residents whose properties are near the development approve. “We face the North Town development and we can see US 29 and all the businesses along it now, which used to be blocked by the large forested area,” said one Woodbrook resident who asked to remain anonymous. “Before all the trees were cut down, we could barely tell that US 29 was nearby,” they added.
|Before (above) and after photos of the back yard at 2925 Brookmere Drive, in Woodbrook. (Before photo courtesy of Tom Bancroft.)|
Problems with noise varied as well with 13% of respondents reporting that they had problems with excessive noise either during or following construction. Michael Juers, whose property lies within 500 feet of the development said, “There is a hum of traffic constantly. Sitting on my back deck enjoying the views and sounds of nature have been compromised.” Another resident, who has asked to remain anonymous and whose property abuts the development said, “Noise level has also increased with loss of trees with delivery trucks, forklifts (back up sound is quite loud and can be heard over TV) and general traffic noise from US 29”. They went on to say, “The construction crews also frequently worked outside the 10 pm to 7 am quiet zone during the clearing of the land.” Former Woodbrook Community Association president Susan Reed echoed the concern of several residents, “There were times this summer when it sounded like something was crashing as they evidently were moving rocks. This was with all the windows closed and it was going on till 9:00 p.m. or so. We don’t even back up to the property,” she said. “When we walked the neighborhood, you could hear the noise through most of it,” she added.
At 23%, almost twice as many Woodbrook residents were concerned about light pollution over noise problems. That’s not surprising considering that the light coming from the site directly affects more residents.
However, it was the question of the car dealership that raised the greatest concern among Woodbrook residents. Sid Wood, whose property abuts the development, said, “I don’t like the idea of a Jim Price Auto lot wrapping around the bank on the property”. One resident who asked to remain anonymous said, “[My] biggest concern with the car dealership is the numerous bright lights they commonly have. The Jim Price Dealership lights are already quite intrusive with the missing trees.” Another said, “Light pollution and daytime sound pollution are the biggest issues that I see with a car dealership. I’m not sure how many car dealerships still use an outdoor speaker system to call their sales staff, but I have heard Colonial’s at times. That would be unacceptably close for a dealership at NTC.” Susan Reed said, “Car lots have speakers and can usually be heard for a fair distance. Resident Josie Pipkin said, “A car dealership would bring in a lot of noise and light. The developers should have to address this and do what can be done to mitigate the impact on the neighborhood if plans for a dealership go forward.” Heidi and Jim Douglas said, “[We are] not a fan[s] of people test driving vehicles near my property and my kid’s school.”
|Before (above) and after photos of the back yard at 2925 Brookmere Drive. (Before photo courtesy of Sid Wood. Mr. Wood is not related to the developer Wendell Wood.)|
Many Woodbrook residents are simply upset by the whole project. Jo An Eliason, whose property lies within 500 feet of the development, is strongly opposed to the project. “We are thinking of moving away from Woodbrook because of this disastrous mess. We have already lost good neighbors because if it. It has had a negative affect on the animals in our woods and the wonderful appeal of Woodbrook has been lost,” she said. Ron Berube said, “It not only ignores, it devalues the community adjacent to it – Woodbrook.” Woodbrook resident Gerry Petencin said, “What’s most disturbing here is that at one point, after attending many Board of Supervisor’s meetings, after watching that process unfold for years, we’re led to believe that one set of things will happen, in terms of the nature of development. And then a VERY different set of things actually do happen.”
Next week, in part two of this series, we talk to one Woodbrook family so profoundly impacted by this development that they no longer call Woodbrook their home.