Boone planning commission approves non-student townhome development


Travis Holshouser

The intersection of Highway 421 and Yosef Drive, Feb. 16, 2022.

Will Hofmann and Zoey Sigmon

A new development of 49 townhomes aims to keep Boone’s housing developments high quality but affordable, according to members of the Town of Boone Planning Commission.

 Located off Highway 421 and Yosef Drive, Wynstone Townhomes is intended as a non-student residential community. Each 2200 square foot townhouse will have a driveway, garage and guest parking. The community will also feature landscaping around the perimeter and a circular private drive accessible from Yosef Drive. The planning commission approved the development site plan during its Jan. 24 meeting.

Smith Warren, a sophomore political science major from Winston-Salem, serves on the planning commission as a student board member. He believes the development is a step in the right direction, and this project could lead to a middle ground for the commission to keep new housing quality, but affordable. 

“Obviously, we need housing. No one’s debating that. But we don’t need to rush it, like, all around the country. Everyone sees these same, similar apartment complexes going up that aren’t necessarily cheap, but they’re affordable,” Warren said. “You know, I personally don’t want that going up, like, super quick to where it’s not quality.”

Elizabeth Shay, chair of the planning commission, said she has concerns that implementing a high-end development may attract second homeowners rather than providing housing for working residents. 

“2200 square feet is large for some folks, and it looks like it’ll be expensive. My department’s currently doing a faculty search, and I’ve been thinking about our candidates,” Shay said during the meeting. “When we settle on a person to whom to make an offer, if it’s a, you know, early 30s person, who’s a few years past their doctorate. I can’t imagine them being able to afford to live in Boone.”

Catellus Group LLC, a Charlotte-based development agency, proposed the site plan. During the meeting, Chelsea Garrett, a Boone lawyer, spoke on behalf of Catellus, stating that their aim is to keep the area “as attractive as possible,” noting that they believe it will add to the area.  

Shirley Ray, a Clyde resident who owns property near Yosef Drive, raised concerns in the meeting about traffic from the townhomes impacting the area. Ray believes the lack of signaling will make it even harder for residents to turn off Yosef Drive and encouraged the town to perform a traffic analysis on the area.

“Having lived there many a year, it’s very difficult to make left hand turns,” Ray said. “It’s even difficult to make right hand turns, especially during football games or concerts.”

Site developer Stephen Barker said it was clear there would be no traffic light installed after discussion with the Department of Transportation.

“We have spent an inordinate amount of time, both from a town level and from NCDOT’s level. First off, NCDOT is not going to install a light at Yosef Drive; that’s a given. So to do a traffic study — ‘what purpose?’ is the question. If there is no light there; there is no light there,” Barker said.

John Ward, former town manager for the Town of Boone, said he approves of a potential AppalCart stop for the community.

“I think that, hopefully, as we further expand the system, and since this is already on a bus line with that many potential riders there, it would only, I think, benefit AppalCart to at least consider whether there’s a safe way to pause and potentially pick up riders at this location,” Ward said. 

Site engineer Thomas Mannino said in place of signals, stop signs and safety markings will be installed to ensure resident and visitor safety. 

The planning commission also expressed concerns over the development’s aesthetics, saying the appearance needs to be similar to Boone’s.

 “If there are tradeoffs that we as a town are expected to make, then there are tradeoffs that the applicant is expected to make in order to reach common ground on something that we can both live with,” said Eric Plaag, founder and principal consultant of Carolina Historical Consulting.

Warren said he believes the planning commission still has a lot of work ahead to assure affordable housing in Boone.

“I definitely think that this is the coming of a turning point for the town. If we don’t get our act together and actually make it to where people who work here need this town to survive. If they can’t live here, they’ll go somewhere else,” Warren said. “That’s just going to hurt us as a whole, and now’s the time to fix that.”

An official construction date for the development has not been announced. The Boone Town Council will discuss Wynstone Townhomes March 28.