Traffic and asphalt were the major sticking points Tuesday during a public hearing for a new CarMax dealership in northeast Raleigh on the corner of Capital Boulevard and Perry Creek Road.
The Raleigh Planning Commission granted CarMax a two-week deferment after members questioned possible issues with traffic and the amount of impervious surface needed for a large-scale car lot.
While CarMax’s site plan meets all of the city’s stormwater requirements, Commissioner Adam Terando said special consideration should be given to the area, which is near Horseshoe Farm and the Neuse River. He said he is not comfortable approving the plan.
“I don’t believe, in my view, that enough has been done to mitigate the impacts,” he said.
The issue, he said, comes from the 273 parking spaces for employees and customers, many more than required. Additionally, the 17.6-acre site will have about 340 spaces in its display lot.
CarMax representative Jason Pruitt said it is unlikely the parking would be at full capacity for regular car-sale business. But, the additional parking would be used during weekly auctions that draw business from other local dealerships.
Commissioner Erin Sterling Lewis echoed Terando’s comments; she said although the site plan meets city code, there is an opportunity to embrace more stormwater sustainability features.
Issue: Whether to approve a new CarMax location in Raleigh
Questions: Size of parking lot, possible increase in traffic
What’s Next: The Planning Commission will reconsider the case Aug. 14.
Pruitt said CarMax employs sustainable building practices, but which features are used is decided on a site-specific basis. The CarMax in Chattanooga, Tenn. is LEED certified. Other sites feature energy reuse systems, daylight harvesting and white roofs, he said.
This site has three stormwater devices, includes an existing constructed wetland – shared with neighboring Strayer University – two new bio-retention ponds and underground storage. CarMax will also make payments to the NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program to address additional water quality regulations.
The commission can’t require that CarMax include more sustainable features or fewer parking spaces, but, Sterling Lewis said, “we can encourage you to consider treating excess parking with better care to the environment.”
She said she hopes that practice will be applied not only in Raleigh, but for any future store.
On top of requiring extra impervious surface, the auctions also raised questions about the increase in traffic.
Pruitt said CarMax sees the most traffic during the week when the auctions are held. Auctions occur after morning rush hour. About 40 percent of the dealership’s business comes from drivers passing by and deciding to stop, Pruitt said.
A traffic impact analysis showed there wasn’t a significant increase, but observed that all Capital Boulevard intersections are operating at above capacity.
The analysis also didn’t include Saturdays, the store’s busiest day outside of auctions.
CarMax representatives said their development would have less of a traffic impact than if the site was used for another commercial business, such as a fast food restaurant or bank.
Neighbors said they believe the dealership will increase traffic and put children at the nearby school or soccer field at risk.
They also expressed concerns about lot lighting and potential impacts on property values.
Commissioner John Buxton said he still has concerns about the weekend traffic impact and wants to see more access from Capital Boulevard.
“I’m not convinced that if you were to develop this property in different way you would not have the same, if not greater, issues with multiple businesses in this area,” he said.
Commissioners will hear the case again at their next meeting Aug. 14.
The Planning Commission approved the following rezoning applications, which will be presented to the Raleigh City Council at its next meeting Aug. 7.
Z-13-11 Dorothea Drive
This 1.4-acre site has been rezoned from Residential 10 (10 units per acre) to Residential 20 and will be used for 15 small-lot single family homes. The plan includes the construction of a new street south of Dorothea Drive. Only one house will have driveway access on Dorothea Drive, while the rest will have access via the new street.
The site is located downtown near the Boylan Heights Historic District.
Z-22-12 Pleasant Grove Church Road
A 3.3-acre site has been rezoned from Residential 4 (four units per acre) to Residential 6. The property will be used to build a small-scale subdivision that will include about 15 single-family houses.
Z-27-12 Rock Quarry Road
This 2-acre site off Interstate 40 and Rock Quarry Road has been rezoned from from Residential-10 with Special Highway Overlay District-1 to Thoroughfare District with Special Highway Overlay District-1.
Today, there are no plans to develop the wooded tract; the rezoning aligns it more closely with the surrounding land uses.