N. Raleigh Watershed Development Awaits More Analysis

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Raleigh City Councilors are slowly moving toward approving a commercial project in the Falls Lake watershed, but want more information on the downstream impacts before making a final decision.

Engineers and representatives for Lifetime Fitness will meet with city stormwater staff to analyze the downstream impacts of the North Raleigh project. They will also host a public meeting for downstream residents. After the analysis and meeting are complete, members of the Comprehensive Planning Committee will make a final decision.

Lifetime Fitness wants to build a new gym on a 26-acre property, which sits just south of Interstate 540 on Falls of Neuse Road. The land is located in the Falls Lake watershed and is zoned only for single family homes on large lots.

As a matter of city policy, commercial development isn’t allowed in the watershed because it often has large areas of impervious surface and stormwater can wash pollutants into nearby streams.

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Representatives from Lifetime Fitness say that stormwater will be managed in such a way that it would be like the development isn’t there.

A similar stormwater project is the North Raleigh Whole Foods shopping center on Six Forks Road.

If approved by council members, the project would set a precedent for other developers and municipalities that are looking at the watershed as a development opportunity.

At the previous meeting, Councilor Randy Stagner asked that engineers look at other ways stormwater could be routed off site, further downstream, rather than into Falls Lake, Raleigh’s primary drinking water source.

Stormwater could either be pumped and routed through a residential neighborhood or along Interstate 540 or it could be held onsite and used for additional irrigation.

Stormwater Utility Manager Danny Bowden said he thinks that pumping the water will cause a greater downstream impact because the water will be flowing for a longer period of time and increase the chance of erosion.

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