Rezoning Raises Questions of Heat Island Effect

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A note from city staff on a potential rezoning case prompted a brief discussion among Planning Commissioners Tuesday about the heat island effect.

Planning Commissioners approved rezoning a 5-acre wooded parcel in North Raleigh to allow residential development.

The property on Spring Forest Road near Ridgefield Drive was originally zoned Office and Industrial 1 and only allowed nursing homes and other elder care facilities. Property owners wanted to change the zoning to Office and Industrial 2, which would allow some residential development. The new zoning will allow up to 193 units.

Information about the rezoning case was presented to Commissioners with a note from city planning staff about the possible heat island effect if the undeveloped property’s 5 acres of trees are removed.

The heat island effect is often seen in cities with large amounts of asphalt. Dark asphalt and concrete reflect the sun’s heat, increasing the temperature of the area.

Commissioner Isabel Mattox said staff could mention the heat island effect in any rezoning case.

“I don’t know that its appropriate going forward to put it in the comments,” she said.

She said staff includes such comments inconsistently.

Deputy Planning Director Ken Bowers said the city doesn’t have any specific polices relating to the heat island effect, but it might in the future. The note was intended for informational purposes and shouldn’t have any bearing on the Commission’s decision, he said.

Commissioner Adam Terando said it’s an issue the Commission should be discussing and that discussion needs to start somewhere. He agreed the note should be included for informational purposes.

Meanwhile, most of the Planning Commissioners’ questions related to how people would access the property. Because it is located behind existing development, any project that’s constructed wouldn’t have direct access to Spring Forest Road.

Developers would either have to build a public road to the new building or work with its neighbors to create cross access.

The rezoning was unanimously approved and will go in front of the City Council next week for a final vote.

Gas Station Site Plan Approved
After a quiet public hearing, the Raleigh Planning Commission approved a site plan for a new gas station on the corner of Rock Quarry and Sunnybrook Roads.

The station will house a six-pump island, a convenience store and a 2,000-square-foot fast food restaurant with some outdoor seating.

The design for the property also includes adding sidewalks along both Rock Quarry and Sunnybrook Roads along with a transit shelter.

At Terando’s request, the owner agreed to include bike racks.

New Single-Family Homes on Leesville
A North Raleigh rezoning application will allow more single-family homes.

A 6-acre parcel off of Leesville Road has been rezoned from Rural Residential to Residential 6.

The change will allow an increase in the number of houses that can be built on the site. As a condition of approval, developers agreed to not exceed 25 single-family homes on the site.

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