College, Alliance Raise Concerns about Planned Hodgins Retreat Expansion
Guilford College has joined the West Friendly Avenue-Guilford College Area Alliance in calling attention to environmental, preservation, traffic and safety concerns and requesting adjustments in the planned development of the property adjacent to and including Hodgins Retreat that totals 6.4 acres.
The new development would include new traditional apartment units and conversion of some of the four-year old student housing that borders the southeast edge of campus next to Armfield Athletic Center. According to currently available plans, there will be 88 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom traditional apartments and 12 3-bedroom units remaining as student apartments in the entire complex when it is completed. The complex is independently owned and operated. The College leased student housing space for two years ending in 2012.
The Alliance of neighborhood residents has been in continuous contact and negotiation with the developer as the project moved through the city zoning process. The project may be up for approval by the zoning board in June.
“In the eventuality that the development takes place, the College is advocating for the best possible result in regards to the impact on the environment, traffic and safety,” said Jon Varnell, vice president for administration. “The zoning board makes the ultimate decision, but we are adding our voice in the discussion about what’s best for the surrounding community.”
The Alliance summarized four areas of concern in the project concept plan and planned unit development (PUD) conditions set out by the developer:
The Alliance believes enforceable zoning conditions must include preservation of the historic Hodgin house at 811 Dolley Madison Road, and that its use should be restricted to primary management office space and not as a recreational “clubhouse,” as has been proposed. The Alliance is concerned that the historic structure could not handle the wear and tear of this kind of use.
Traffic and Complex Access Issues
The Alliance is requesting amendments to the driveway entrance identified in the concept plan due to the impact on the natural area and increased traffic hazards caused by the current driveway placement. The Alliance is concerned that there will be an unsafe increase in vehicular traffic on Dolley Madison Road and Foxwood Drive due to the expansion of the development. There are a number of solutions that may be proposed as an attempt to remedy this concern.
The planned expansion includes four new buildings with 64 1- and 2-bedroom units. These proposed building locations would not interfere with the line of trees along the property line nearest Guilford and maintain the visual barrier for much of the new development. The Alliance has suggested relocation of a new building that would avoid the removal and damage to trees on the site and create a “positive, fairly contained” open space between the new apartment buildings. Also, the Alliance requests “positive architectural features” that would be compatible with the existing house and wooded setting as well as interior amenities that would be appealing to long-term tenants.
Environmental/Green Space Concerns
The Alliance notes that the environmental impact of this development is of significant concern to the College. Environmental issues should be fully and exhaustively addressed via enforceable zoning conditions, especially in regard to run-off and pollution. More specifically, the inclusion of a bioretention on-site water treatment measure would address some of the water quality concerns. Finally, the Alliance seeks enforceable zoning conditions that will require placement of canopy trees and specific understory plantings that will provide a sound and visual shield to the surrounding properties and replace trees lost in the construction process.