Developer takes City of Greenville to court over planned project


GREENVILLE, Pitt County - Landmark, an Atlanta-based developer, wants to put more student housing at one location in Greenville.

However, the group is meeting resistance from Greenville's Planning and Zoning Commission and is now suing the city. Lawyers for Landmark have asked a superior court judge to review the planning board's decision.

"There's been a concern for overbuilt student housing for months in this city," said Greenville City council member Calvin Mercer.

For Landmark to build the housing the way it wants, which includes four-bedroom units, it'll take a special permit. According to a Greenville city ordinance, four unrelated people can't live together. In its legal filing, the developer said planning and zoning board members were influenced by outside parties before not recommending the exception to the rule for the project back in May.

"I talked to some of them and I've done that planning and zoning matters 40 years in Greenville and other towns and communities where we have projects," said Tom Taft, a developer and attorney in Greenville. "Not uncommon at all to talk to council members and planning and zoning members. Board of adjustments is different."

Taft has several student and market-rate apartment complexes. One is currently under construction on 10th Street. But he's not worried about the land on Charles Boulevard that Landmark wants to devleop.

"We don't think that any project built there will have any impact on our project because it's a totally different type of housing," Taft said.

"Sometimes when companies don't get what they want, they sue the city," Mercer said.

Ashley Story with Troutman Sanders, which is representing Landmark, said the developer is hopeful superior court will rule in favor of the permit needed.

"Everybody will abide by what the court decides on this," Taft said. "There's nothing preventing Landmark from coming back and petitioning it again if they lose."

According to Mercer and Taft, there are other safety concerns with the developing land on Charles into student housing such as pedestrian safety and excess traffic.

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