Growth concerns grow in southwest Exeter

By Reggie Ellis

Wake up Exeter! The future is now.

The Exeter Planning Commission held its first public hearing on the Southwest Specific Plan, a guide to develop 320 acres stretching from Belmont Road and Visalia Road south to Glaze Avenue. Only a handful of property owners who live in or adjacent to the planning area - which will eventually house an additional 4,000 people (40% of the city's current population) in the next 20 years - attended the meeting.

&#8220It could be faster or slower,” said Greg Collins, City Planner for the City of Exeter.

He said the proposed plan currently has two 10-year phases. About 60% of the area will be developed in the first 10 years, by 2016, and by 2021 the area will be completely developed from Visalia Road north to Glaze Avenue south, and from Belmont Road east to the extension of Elberta Avenue west.

&#8220But most of Exeter's growth has happened in the last three years,” said Commissioner Jon Johnston. Property owners in attendance asked if there could be phase lines within phase lines to slow the growth to ensure development would take the full 20 years. Another suggested Exeter set a limit on the number of building permits.

&#8220You can get into some legal issues and state funding issues by limiting the number of permits,” Collins said. He said the City of Exeter uses a 10-year annexation line to prevent sprawl and encourage infill development. A development within the annexation line can be built in one year or 10 years, but the developer cannot develop beyond the invisible line until after 10 years.

&#8220It is a unique approach that has worked very well in Exeter,” Collins said.

The plan also proposes the extension of Elberta Avenue and Jacob Place to the north and south, and Chestnut Street, Firebaugh Avenue and Powell Avenue east to west. The map also identified the truck route from Visalia Road south on Elberta and then east on Glaze Avenue past Industrial Drive to Highway 65.

&#8220You are going to send the truck traffic down the road I live,” Victor Glaze said. &#8220If you widen that road and take my property it's going to be close to the front of my house.”

Carolyn Moffet said that many of the residents in Park Place were probably not aware of the plan being new to the city, but they would probably not want a truck route along Glaze. &#8220I know I won't like it. If you pay that much for a house I'm sure you wouldn't like either.”

&#8220There are no packing houses on this side of town,” said Dr. Anne Hickey, who lives on 10 acres near the middle of the area. Hickey also asked where Elberta Road would go, considering there are homes that lie directly in the path of the proposed extension.

&#8220The road may have to curve away from the house,” Collins said.

&#8220Does the curve come off my property if I don't want to develop?” Hickey asked.

Collins said the road would not be drawn until a developer submitted a proposed map for the area. &#8220Until we have a survey it all get very speculative,” he said.

&#8220My neighbors have raised their families out there since 1977,” said Paul Laufer, who lives on Morris Court just outside of the planning area. &#8220Now a truck route is going to be 40 feet from their front door? Do any plans not include Elberta as a truck route?”

&#8220We are taking all advisements and every comment into consideration,” said Commission Chair Ray Guillen. &#8220We are not here to make a decision tonight. Nothing has been set in stone.”

Jane Markstadt acknowledged that the commission had a tough decision because no one wants a truck route near their house. &#8220Do we have to have a truck route in the plan?” she asked. &#8220It seems like once you designate a truck route you are locked into that.”

Collins said the idea of a truck route is to designate the easiest way to get large trucks in and out of the city. He said a lot of where a truck route is depends on whether or not the road is built to handle the heavy load.

Residents were also unhappy that they had not been notified through the mail about the upcoming meeting. Jackie Maniscalco said most of the people directly affected by the area could be counted on two hands, but the decision will affect the entire city and the surrounding residents.

Nearly all those in attendance felt that in addition to printing notices in the newspaper, they should have also been contacted individually and informed of the meeting.

&#8220We came here tonight poorly informed,” Norma Glaze said. &#8220We are very concerned about this. You are going to need more than two meetings.”

The next meeting on the Southwest Specific Plan will be at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17. The Exeter Planning Commission meets on the third Thursday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, located at 137 N. F St. Copies of the nearly 200-page document can be checked out from City Hall, but a limited number of copies are available. For more information call 592-3710.

Start typing and press Enter to search