Brier Creek sued Raleigh and the city council late last week after the city rejected an application to build a new Firestone Complete Auto Care center near a residential neighborhood. The suit says election-season politics got in the way of the approval and the Raleigh City Council did not follow the rules when it refused to allow the Firestone at the corner of T.W. Alexander Drive and Sporting Club Drive.
Residents in the nearby neighborhood have shown up to oppose the car care center in planning commission and city council meetings for months. The planning commission approved the site plan in August and according to the meeting’s minutes, only Bonner Gaylord and Waheed Haq voted against the site plan. Both Gaylord and Haq were candidates for the open District E seat on city council at the time, the district were Brier Creek is located.
The city council held its own hearing and rejected the site plan in September. The lawsuit, filed in Wake County Superior Court by Brier Creek and its parent company American Asset Corporation, says the city council had no legal basis for hearing the appeal. The lawsuit argues that the residents appealing the site plan did not provide “substantial, competent and material evidence” that the plan did not meet city standards.
The suit argues that the October city council elections, just two weeks after council rejected the plan, played a role in the denial. The lawsuit, filed by Eric Braun of K&L Gates, says the campaign committee for At-large Councilor Russ Stephenson circulated a campaign flier in the Brier Creek area endorsing Stephenson as “a strong advocate for our neighborhood during the Firestone case.
The lawsuit asks that the court find the city council should have never heard the appeal in the first place and require the city to approve the site plan. A separate suit, filed the same day by BrierCreek and its parent company, asks the court to review how the site plan was rejected and require the city to approve the plan.