GREENSBORO — The City Council on Tuesday approved an upscale apartment complex on Horse Pen Creek Road that drew heated opposition from nearby residents who fear it will bring added traffic congestion and environmental problems.

The council voted 8-1 in favor of rezoning 21.4 acres for the apartment project that developer Keystone Homes says will cost about $50 million and include up to 380 units.

City Councilwoman Sharon Hightower voted against the zone change, saying she was concerned with the project’s density of 18 units per acre and its potential to cause flooding.

City staff members and Keystone consultants told the council they believe a widened Horse Pen Creek Road can handle additional traffic from the project and required safeguards should protect the environment adequately.

Dozens of residents from nearby neighborhoods Saddle Creek, Quaker Run and others filled the council chambers and made impassioned speeches urging the council to reject the rezoning.

Neighborhood spokesman Dave Dillon said that the residents were not against well-planned growth and development, but that the project was out of place in an area largely of single-family homes and town house communities.

“We are against something that is such a glaring inconsistency,” Dillon said. “It’s going to stick out. We understand that change is imminent, but it has to be smart change.”

Good change is exactly what Keystone Homes executive Scott Wallace said the project would bring. He noted that with Horse Pen Creek Road’s widening — a project already underway — traffic would improve to “A” or “B” quality levels with or without the proposed project.

Wallace said the apartment complex would attract “active adult” residents and young professionals drawn by its amenities, nearby commercial district and ready access to nearby highways and the Piedmont Triad International Airport.

Amenities would include a fully equipped chef’s kitchen, a variety of fitness facilities, a children’s game room, a pet spa and one- and two-car garages, he said.

Council members voting for the project said that Greensboro needs diverse types of development and that the project is unlikely to cause the turmoil the residents fear.

“I think it will be very nice for this area,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan said. “I think it will be in harmony with the area.”

The council also put its stamp of approval on $900,000 in federal, affordable housing funds for the Muirs Landing development located just off Muirs Chapel Road, north of West Market Street.

The development aims to provide 72 apartments that are affordable for people earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area’s median income. It has a total development budget of about $11 million.

In other action, the council:

  • Approved an $852,000 agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation for sidewalk improvements along sections of Holden Road and Lindsay Street.
  • Accepted almost $508,000 in federal money through the state DOT to offset increased costs for Phase 2 of the Downtown Greenway along
  • Murrow
  • Boulevard and Fisher Avenue.
  • Authorized $381,000 to purchase a piece of “wet scrubbing” equipment to help cut air emissions from the T.Z. Osborne wastewater plant’s incinerator.

Before the meeting, the council held a work session to hear an update from members of the city Criminal Justice Advisory Committee that aims to help city officials monitor police-community relations more effectively than the current police community review board.

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Contact Taft Wireback at 336-373-7100 and follow @TaftWirebackNR on Twitter.

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