MEBANE — A 264-unit apartment complex on South N.C. 119 is the most recent residential project approved by the Mebane City Council.

On Monday night, council members approved a request by Signature Property Group, Greensboro, to construct what the city’s agenda referred to as a “high-end” development on the western part of 22.5 acres on South N.C. 119 extending back to Holmes Lane.

Developers requested and were granted a rezoning to R-6 multifamily only for the 22.5 acres it plans to use for the project, with an additional 20 acres on the tract that will remain undeveloped for at least 15 years, said Seth Coker, Signature Property Group.

The council also approved a special-use permit for the project.

In light of Holmes Lane property owners expressing concerns with what would become of the back 20 acres of the property, Coker agreed to place a no-build easement on that portion of the land for 15 years. The developers currently have the 42.6 acres — the land left over from property sold to construct Garrett Elementary and Hawfields Middle schools — under contract for purchase.

Prior to the council’s vote to grant the rezoning, the property was zoned for single-family residential with a proposed land use of office and institutional, based on Mebane’s 2010 Land Development Plan.

The $25 million complex will be a gated community targeting “folks who could afford to buy a single-family home and just for some reason are choosing not to,” Coker said.

Coker said rents for the one- and two-bedroom units would range from $800 into the $1,000s.

It will feature amenities like a pool, clubhouse, fitness center, dog park, on-property bike trail, stainless steel appliances, 9-foot ceilings and solid wood cabinets.

Coker said national background checks and credit checks are run on all adults applying to stay in the units, and they have a strict “100 percent no-felon policy.”

The developers also will be responsible for paying for the construction of a multiuse path from nearby apartments, through their property, and possibly through nearby school property as well, which they have discussed with the Alamance-Burlington School System.

“The whole idea is to have walkable communities, to have a community where you can walk next door to shop, walk across the street to have dinner,” Assistant City Manager Chris Rollins said of the sidewalks that would be built.

The school system has estimated the apartment complex will bring a total of 55 new students to Garrett, Hawfields and Eastern Alamance High schools, though Coker said he believes that number “sounds a little high.”

THOUGH NEARBY property owners on Holmes Lane initially signed a petition of protest concerning the development, eight of the nine residents who signed it agreed to withdraw their signatures from the petition prior to the public hearing Monday.

James Gentry had signed the petition, but said at the meeting that Coker attended a community meeting last week about the project and relieved some of the homeowners’ concerns.

“At first, when this project came around, there was a lot of people in the community that had concern about it,” Gentry said, continuing on to list concerns such as overcrowding in Mebane’s schools, traffic problems, and another homeowner worried about the bike trail bringing unwanted guests on her property.

Coker said developers agreed to put a fence along the trail near her property.

Jennifer Evans, also a Holmes Lane property owner, was still reluctant to support the project, mentioning concerns about traffic and whether developers would actually hold up on their promise not to develop the back portion of the property.

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Hooks said he was “very impressed with the developer,” that Coker went and met with nearby property owners to address their concerns.

“This is an interesting and a very high-end project for Mebane,” Hooks said. “Everybody can’t live in houses. There aren’t (enough) rental houses available. If we’re going to do apartments, this is great apartment design, from what I understand.”

Council member Patty Philipps also suggested that the project was a good option if the land is going to be developed.

“Zoning decisions always come back to the best and highest use of the land,” she said. “When I think of what else we could have in there, this seems like a good fit for where it is.”

Coker said if all goes as planned, he hopes grading will begin September, with building beginning in the spring.