Plans for a new Sheetz gas station and convenience store to be built near a residential community are still under discussion.
Last week, Planning Commissioners recommended rezoning a 6-acre lot on the corner of North New Hope and Buffaloe roads. The proposed rezoning would allow for the construction of a Sheetz gas station and convenience store.
Several City Councilors expressed concerns about the proposed project.
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Councilor Thomas Crowder referenced the recently adopted Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) — an overhaul of the City’s existing zoning code — that allows gas stations and convenience stores to be constructed near residential areas.
“I think we have some lessons learned when it comes to the new UDO that we approved,” he said, “and I think we need to think back and look back to that to see if we missed some things that are going to be very potentially damaging to neighborhoods.”
Councilor Russ Stephenson also had concerns about the project and recommended it be used as a test case moving forward when sites around Raleigh are mapped during the UDO implementation process. He urged fellow Councilors to consider the situations that adjacent neighborhoods are put in with this type of development.
The issue was eventually sent to the Comprehensive Planning Committee for additional discussion. The committee will meet at 4 p.m. July 10.
Transportation Bond on the Ballot in October
Raleigh residents will get a chance to vote for a $75 million transportation bond in October.
Councilors adopted a resolution that authorizes city staff to proceed with placing the transportation bond on the October ballot.
If approved by voters, the $75 million bond will increase the tax rate by 1.12 cents and will fund various road projects throughout the city.
Councilors also selected and approved a 10-person marketing committee to publicize and encourage support for the bond.
Norman Estates Way Improvements
Residents of Norman Estates Way are getting some needed road improvements.
Councilors Tuesday approved a request from residents to bring Norman Estates Way up to current city standards. The total cost of the project is about $99,500 and will include curbs and gutters, street paving, storm drainage, erosion control and traffic control.
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The City’s portion of the cost will be about $41,300, with the property owners paying the remaining $58, 200.
Norman Estates Way is located north of Strickland Road and west of Creedmoor Road. The subdivision was initially approved by Wake County and annexed by the city in 2005.
Upon inspection, NCDOT officials noted serious deficiencies in the roadway construction, including storm drainage problems. These problems were never repaired by the developer of the subdivision, who is no longer around.
Norman Estates Way was never accepted for maintenance by the NCDOT or the city due to its condition.
After repairs are completed, the city will continue maintaining the street.
MLK Memorial Gardens Expanding
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens are expanding.
Councilors approved the schematic design of the garden expansion project, and authorized staff to proceed with the construction documents and bidding process.
The gardens, located on Rock Quarry Road, were originally constructed in 1990. The park includes a memorial wall of bricks inscribed with the names of supporters. This wall surrounds a bronze statue of King and a granite water monument serves as a memorial to local pioneers in the civil rights movement.
The expansion project will include a Civil Rights Path, a comfort station with drinking fountains, a covered patio with grills, improved signage and lighting and additional parking and seating.
The expansion project will cost an estimated $950,000. Parks and Recreation Department staff hopes to complete the project in 2015.
Seven Nonprofits Receive Additional Funding
Several Raleigh-based nonprofit organizations will be getting some additional city funding.
City Councilors approved Community Enhancement Grant projects for seven organizations. The one-time funding ranges from $6,000 for a financial education program to $35,000 for an after-school program focusing on math, science, and reading.
The approved funds come from a portion of the federal Community Development Block Grant the city receives. These funds are often used for larger projects, but a small portion may be used for community enhancement projects.
Insurance Broker Contract Approved for Three Years
Councilors approved a three-year contract for insurance brokerage services with Willis of North Carolina in a 7-1 vote.
Councilor John Odom voted in opposition of the contract.
“I am going to not support this.” he said. “I feel like the small business community did not have the chance to participate in the original one a year or so ago.”
The original request for proposal was released last year. The only local business that responded was the company with which the city had previously contracted. The company was unable to handle the city’s needs. One of the other respondents, Willis of North Carolina, was chosen for a one-year trial.
Staff initially recommended the contract be extended for five years, but several Councilors expressed concerns about automatically extending the contract without going to bid.
Councilors agreed to release another request for proposal at the end of the three-year contract.
Public Process Changes Approved for Traffic Calming Projects
Residents will now have a chance to learn about traffic calming projects in their area much earlier in the process.
Councilors approved a change to the public process for traffic calming. This change includes public input earlier in the planning process for traffic calming.
Until now, when a citizen requested traffic calming devices, transportation staff studied the street to check if it met the necessary requirements. If so, a petition was circulated and needed to be signed by 75 percent of residents on that street before the process could move forward.
An informational meeting for area residents did not occur until later in the process.
In the new process, the informational meeting will occur before the petition needs to be signed by residents.
Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin says the change will help residents understand the types of traffic calming devices used for their street.
“I think where most of the problem has occurred is people are surprised,” she said. “So, instead of being surprised after the process there is discussion upfront with alternatives presented so people understand exactly what they’re asking for.”