Urban Meets Country in Planning Commission

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A North Raleigh rezoning has brought up questions about the use of urban design guidelines in very suburban parts of the city.

The Planning Commission Tuesday approved a rezoning for an 8-acre property on T.W. Alexander Drive near the Durham County line. Commissioners Adam Terando and Erin Sterling Lewis voted against the rezoning in the 6-to-2 vote.

While the developer of the property doesn’t currently have a user, it will likely be used for a high-end grocery store in the future.

The developer also plans on building a 300-townhome community geared toward seniors and older adults. The properties to the north of the site, under Durham’s jurisdiction, already have approved plans for similar residential communities.

If City Councilors approve the plan next week, the property could house retail, such as a grocery store. Jarrod Edens, the engineer representing the property’s owner, said a grocery store would be welcomed in the area, which only has a Food Lion nearby.

However, the plans don’t comply with the city’s Urban Design Guidelines. Edens said the area is heavily suburban and borderline rural, with cows grazing just a few miles away. Following the guidelines would make the project incompatible with the rest of the area.

“This area is not especially urban,” he said.

Much of the area is zoned by Durham. Edens said any other development would also fail to follow the city’s design guidelines.

“This will be a more urban area,” said Terando, who urged for more compatibility with the guidelines, particularly the requirement for maximum setbacks.

Maximum setbacks would insure a more pedestrian-friendly environment by discouraging the use of a large parking lot in front of a building.

This is the only time the Commission will have any say in the future development.

Terando wanted to defer the vote until the developer could work with staff to come up with some creative solutions that would encourage a walkable, urban-inspired project, but give the eventual user some flexibility.

Edens said the developer intends on complying with as many guidelines as possible and intends to make the project pedestrian friendly, but doesn’t want to limit development before a business for the retail property is found.

The Commission ultimately recommended the rezoning for approval without any further restrictions.

Southeast Raleigh Family Dollar Approved
A new Family Dollar store is slated for Southeast Raleigh. Planning Commissioners unanimously approved a site plan for a new Family Dollar on Rock Quarry Road.

The 8,300-square-foot building will be located on a 1.5-acre site between Interstate 40 and Sanderford Road.

One thought on “Urban Meets Country in Planning Commission

  1. “a grocery store would be welcomed in the area, which only has a Food Lion nearby.” lol, like Food Lion doesn’t count as a grocery store?

    That’s an insult to those of us who live in Central Raleigh where grocery stores are much more sparse.