Litchford Road Retail Narrowly Recommended For Approval

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The planning commission on Tuesday recommended approval of a case that would rezone a 6.95 acre property on Litchford Road by a margin of 5-3.

It was one of two votes that day to be split so narrowly.

The case, Z-2-15, had been in the committee of the whole for two sessions and a valid statutory protest petition has been filed against it.

The area in red may soon include a shopping center

The area in red may soon include a shopping center

Committee of the whole chairman John Buxton said it had been moved to the committee due to the complexities of the case, including overarching questions on what could be developed on the site. Possibilities included a grocery store, retail, or a restaurant.

Discussions in the committee centered on traffic impacts of the proposed development, transitions between the proposed development and the neighborhood, and what the different site layouts could be. In the committee, the applicant stated that the desired aim was to build a specialty grocery store on the site.

“There is absolutely no need for more retail on our corner.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 10.07.38 PMWhen reached for comment before the public hearing, Gailya Paliga, wife of Robert Paliga who filed the VSPP, said neighbors had many concerns about the proposed development. 

She noted there were many grocery stores within a short proximity to the neighborhood and that traffic already becomes congested on Litchford Road during peak hours.

“There is absolutely no need for more retail on our corner,” Gailya said.

Staff gave a brief presentation about the case at Tuesday’s public hearing. The 6.95 acre site was to be rezoned neighborhood mixed use with a three-story height cap. Staff found it to be inconsistent with the future land use map and therefore inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.

Attorney Tom Worth represented the applicant. He stated there had been much discussion about traffic calming measures to mitigate the traffic impacts of the new development but that it was up to city staff and citizens to follow through on that issue. He added that the applicant had put on six additional conditions, which included a 50-foot buffer in the way of a fence and a cap on overall parking.

Opposition Cites Traffic, Unchecked Development as Concerns

Three citizens spoke out in opposition to the rezoning.

Robert Paliga said the neighborhood didn’t want any more retail space or need another specialty grocery store. He added that he was concerned about the impact of increased traffic.

A Google Earth Streetview image of traffic near the intersection where the project is being planned

Google Maps

A Google Earth Streetview image of traffic near the intersection where the project is being planned

Gailya Paliga said the case was inconsistent with the future land use map and that the area, if the development were to be allowed, would have terrible traffic ratings by 2017. She was worried about garbage pickup and that the smell would carry on into the neighborhood.

“In summary, the neighbors have said clearly that they don’t need more retail when there’s so much retail already around,” she said.

Clifford Curtis said that he had lived in Washington D.C., which is often a hotbed for unchecked development. He said he liked the quiet life in Raleigh and that development could cause unforeseen consequences.

“I appeal to your integrity,” Curtis said. “Put yourself in our shoes.”

Commissioners held a brief discussion. A motion to recommend approval was made and it passed 5-3.

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