There will be plenty of smiles and laughter in the area of U.S. 64 and Goodwin Road.
Only these good times have nothing to do with a family fun park.
Instead, they are the expressions of relief by local residents who have fought off the inevitable encroachment of development for at least a little while longer.
Apex Town Council last week actually voted 3-2 in favor of rezoning a 14-acre site along U.S. 64 West that would become part of a larger 20-plus acre fun park.
But since a valid petition was signed by property owners within 100 feet of the site, state law required a “super majority” vote by council of at least 4-1 in order for the project to become approved.
Councilmen Terry Rowe and Lance Olive both voted against the rezoning while Mayor Pro Tem Gene Schulze, Scott Lassiter and Bill Jensen gave their approval.
About a dozen residents spoke in opposition of the project, which would have included a bowling alley, laser tag, climbing wall, bumper cars, athletic fields, food court and a variety of other activities.
That kind of development prompted numerous concerns about increased traffic, noise, lights, trespassing and possible safety hazards.
“We don’t object to commercial development,” said resident Leslie Kennedy. “We just don’t like this project. We don’t need a bowling alley out there.”
But it was the water issue that really dampened the developer’s chances for approval.
Residents repeatedly told council they feared their wells would run dry once the fun park tapped into the local water source. The Town of Apex does not provide water and sewer service to that area and has no plans to start any time soon.
“The water source can’t handle it,” said resident Lee Wagner. “The water source will be destroyed by the time the town annexes the area.”
“The water is slim and it’s getting less,” said resident Margaret Fletcher. “When they start pumping water they will lower the water table for all of us. It would be so much better to wait when it is on city water.”
Project developer and former town councilman Carl Helton said the town did not require a water impact study for rezoning so none was performed and no projections were made on how much water would be used.
Helton made several concessions in an attempt to get his project approved. He told council that the fun park would not use well water to irrigate the athletic fields and would instead truck water to the site.
He also said the athletic fields would remain unlit and agreed to increase buffers around the area.
Helton said the project was a “safe place for families to go” and asked for support of this “much needed family entertainment center.”
Lassiter made the motion to approve the project and it was seconded by Schulze.
“Folks, I take your concerns seriously, I really do,” said Lassiter. “But I have to be pragmatic. Apex is a young town that lacks a quality place for adolescents and children.”
But Rowe maintained his belief that the water concerns were more important.
“How do we know we aren’t (affecting) adjacent water?” said Rowe.
Olive agreed the project was a bad fit for the area but also told resident that development was inevitable along that portion of U.S. 64.
“I look at this and I have severe reservations,” said Olive. “It’s not feasible (to move forward with the project) when water and sewer is required but not present. Changes will come and it will happen along 64. It will happen in the future but not now.”