More Debate for Falls Lake Development

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A rezoning application that would allow commercial development in Raleigh’s watershed has been kicked to a Council committee for more review.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Councilor Russ Stephenson said they both wanted to put the application into the Comprehensive Planning Committee for a closer look by Council members.

Lifetime Fitness wants to build a new facility on a 26-acre property just south of Interstate 540 off Falls of Neuse Road. The physical facility and its associated parking would take up the front third of the property. The remaining two thirds would be dedicated to stormwater management and water quality devices.

The Issue Breakdown

What: Lifetime Fitness wants to build a gym near Falls Lake.
Why It Matters: The building would be the first commercial structure built in the city’s watershed.
Next Steps: The Comprehensive Planning Committee will discuss the issue. They meet at 5 p.m. April 10 in the City Council chambers.

The property is zoned Rural Residential and is located in the Falls Lake watershed.

McFarlane said one of her biggest concerns is the precedent that would be set by the project and how the impacts of the development would be monitored and reported to the city.

“Are we ready to contradict our own policy of not building commercial in the watershed?” she said.

Typically, only single-family homes on large one-acre lots are permitted in the watershed. As a matter of policy, the city does not allow commercial development in these areas because it tends to have more impervious surface than a single-family home.

Rainwater runs off impervious surfaces, such as roofs and parking lots, and eventually ends up in the water supply, taking with it dirt and pollutants. Developments must not exceed certain maximum levels of nitrogen and phosphorus leaving the site.

To lessen these impacts, Lifetime Fitness would install a series of onsite stormwater management devices that they say would work so well that — from a water quality standpoint — it would be as though the facility wasn’t even there.

A similar stormwater project is the Whole Foods development on Six Forks Road.

Stephenson said he wanted to also have a broader policy discussion in committee and include the developer.

Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin asked why the project should be held up to have a discussion on the city’s policy.

McFarlane said the application needs to be further scrutinized by Councilors because of the potential impact it could have on the water supply and the details as to how the project would be monitored need to be ironed out.

The Comprehensive Planning Committee will meet at 5 p.m. April 10 in the City Council chambers.

One thought on “More Debate for Falls Lake Development

  1. I think this is a REALLY BAD precedent. Once you open that door, watch out!!!