McFarlane and Crowder Hold Out Against Residential Development

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In a public hearing session on Tuesday night, city councilors elected to hold open a rezoning case that proposed building a residential subdivision in north Raleigh.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Councilor Kay Crowder

City of Raleigh

Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Councilor Kay Crowder

Mayor McFarlane and Councilor Crowder were the only two to vote against it — arguing that the project should be rejected outright.

The case, Z-22-14, proposes rezoning a property on Creedmoor Road — surrounded by neighborhoods and a shopping center — to allow for more residential density.

A valid statutory petition had been filed in the case, and the Northwest Citizens Advisory Council voted 150-0 against the development of the residential subdivision. At the public hearing, residents of the surrounding neighborhoods cited access as the predominant reason why they were against the new development.

The issue in question, as explained by city staff, was a pair of stub roads that would undergo changes if the new development were to take place. Under the Unified Development Ordinance, the stub roads would have to either be terminated or connected through, which would lead to more traffic for the neighborhoods surrounding the development.

Isabel Mattox, a lawyer representing the developers, argued that the rezoning had been found to be consistent with the Future Land Use Map and the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, and that the Planning Commission had recommended approval of the rezoning in a 6-3 vote. She said the rezoning would increase connectivity and walkability, which were two principles of the UDO.

The area on the left side of the map near the shopping center may soon house offices and residential units

Bing Maps

The area on the left side of the map near the shopping center may soon house offices and residential units

Ben Kuhn, a lawyer representing the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, showed pictures of the roads surrounding the property in a slideshow presentation. The pictures revealed roads that were in varying states of disrepair, beset with potholes and crumbling gravel.

Councilor Stephenson said the council needed to have some flexibility in dealing with unique cases and that the generic citywide rules of the UDO weren’t easy to apply in all cases. He made a motion to direct staff to draw up a text change that would give the council more latitude in rezoning cases. He then made a motion to deny the case, which Councilor Crowder seconded.

Councilor Odom asked whether it was possible to deny access from the development to the neighborhoods, to which Travis Crane, planning and zoning administrator for the city of Raleigh, replied that wasn’t. Crane explained that chapter eight of the UDO required increased connectivity within the city.

“I don’t want to move forward with any plan that puts more traffic on those roads,” Mayor McFarlane said.

The council discussed whether to deny the case outright and let the applicant come back with a new proposed development or to hold the case open and allow time for staff to draft a text change that might give the council more latitude in dealing with rezoning cases. Councilors Gaylord and Baldwin were proponents of the latter idea, saying it would allow the residents to have the opportunity to influence the case.

A vote was taken on Councilor Stephenson’s motion to deny the case and it failed 3-5, with Mayor McFarlane and Councilors Stephenson and Crowder voting to approve the denial.

A second motion was made to hold the case open to allow time for staff to draft a text change. It passed 6-2, with Mayor McFarlane and Councilor Crowder dissenting.

2 thoughts on “McFarlane and Crowder Hold Out Against Residential Development

  1. Unless these streets are private, I believe that it is necessary to follow the suggestion for connectivity in the UDO. It behooves the city to improve its infrastructure network by making it more efficient over time. Street connectivity is one such factor and actually helps disperse traffic while also improving pedestrian and bicycle access.

  2. It’s a complex situation because the streets in question are outside the city limits but inside today’s ETJ. In theory the streets are maintained by NCDOT. In reality these are semi-rural streets from the late 1970s and early 1980s with narrow asphalt laid directly onto the ground, no curbs, no gutters, no sidewalks, etc. When these streets were built, the ETJ boundary was far away. NCDOT wishes this mess would just go away.

    No one is contemplating the annexation of this neighborhood. So, we have the irony of the city’s debating the role of connectivity in a neighborhood that will, in all likelihood, never be part of the city.

    Connectivity is a good thing, but the simple fact is that countless neighborhoods in north Raleigh were designed deliberately to limit connectivity. Trying to back-stitch connectivity onto those neighborhoods now, despite good intentions, will result in a comedy of errors. Well, it’s not comedy if you live in one of those neighborhoods.