As Salamander Resort prepares for the construction of its next phase, some town residents are pushing to tweak the plans in hopes of avoiding increased traffic in their neighborhood.
Under the plans to build 49 single-family homes on the 340-acre resort, new connections would be made to the property by extending Chestnut and Reed streets. Resident in the Ridgeview neighborhood are urging the Town Council to consider alternatives that would instead funnel the traffic through Pendleton Street and limiting the Chestnut and Reed streets to emergency equipment access and pedestrian links.
The impact of the connections, critics say, won’t just hit their neighborhood, but could alter the character of the town. Recent promotions touting the luxury homes—with starting prices near $2 million—as ideal for short-term rentals also have sparked concerns among some residents. They say there is a big difference in having neighbors living in the homes and vacationers rotating in and out.
“The more people I talk to, the more concerns I hear with regard to the changes to what is perceived to be a working, comfortable town—a special living opportunity for many people—is being threatened by the proposed, large-scale change, which are at this time being focused on the roadways in and out Chestnut and Reed streets,” Ramsay Metcalf told the Town Council at its July 8 meeting. “The town as it exists is almost being looked at as a throughfare to these residences.”
“This is not just about Chestnut Street. This is not just about Reed Street. It is about the whole town,” Roxene Hill said. “It is about preserving, in my mind, what will be a legacy in that we have managed to separate the town from the development, from Salamander. Salamander has been a great addition to the town … but I also realize that the town itself should have another identity.”
There have been community meetings to discuss residents’ concerns and an update of the 350-page traffic study conducted in 2015 is underway to examine the impacts of not adding the new connections, but Town Council members appear ready to stay the course, worried that limiting access points would create bottlenecks or dangerous conditions in other areas of town. Deputy Town Manager William M. Moore, the town planner, also recommends keeping the connections.
Mayor Bridge Littleton acknowledged residents’ concerns about changes in town, but said the council’s responsibility is to look out for the interests of the entire town and future residents, as well. “We need to do what we feel is best,” he said.
Other council members also expressed support for sticking to the plans to extend the road network as envisioned when the resort was approved 15 years ago.
However, Councilwoman Darlene Kirk questioned whether they were finding the right balance. “Is the resort more important than the people who live here in town now? It shouldn’t be,” she said. “I think we have to look after our citizens first and put them first instead of the resort.”
The council will continue its review of the street connection options once the updated transportation study is complete, at its July 22 or Aug. 12 meeting.