Wake Forest board OKs controversial plan for townhomes

WAKE FOREST, NC (WTVD) -- Wake Forest commissioners approved a plan Tuesday night to allow a four-acre lot to be rezoned to make way for as many as 40 townhomes.

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The I-Team started digging into the story last week. The lot is on North Main Street near Barnford Mill Road.

Commissioners Bridget Wall-Lennon and Liz Simpers voted for the plan; Greg Harrington and Brian Pate voted against it. Mayor Vivian Jones had to break the tie.

Some like Julie Ellis ran for the exits as soon as the vote came down.

"I'm very, very disappointed," Ellis said. "I own the Battle-Purnell House, which is the oldest house in this town and it's a town landmark. This will be right next door to these townhomes. It's going to take a while to sink in. I will probably move in the future. I don't think I'm going to want to live next to them."

Ray Bodall lives across the street from the site.

"For me, it was an issue of density," he said. "Cramming 40 townhomes in that space just didn't make sense."

All of the board members said they received hateful calls and emails leading up to the vote.

Ultimately Simpers said she decided to vote for the plan because of the lack of affordable housing in Wake Forest.

"I will believe in two years a lot of the fears in this room will not be realized," she said. "I don't believe townhomes bring more crime, more trash or more renters or an undesirable demographic."

Simpers said of the 520 homes for sale in Wake Forest, only 22 of them were listed for under $250,000.
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