At its public hearing session on Tuesday night, the city council of Raleigh approved a rezoning to make way for a grocery store on Falls of Neuse Road.
The rezoning case — Z-2-15 — concerned a 6.95 acre parcel that was zoned office and institution. The proposed rezoning was to neighborhood mixed use with a three story height cap. The planning commission recommended approval of the rezoning by 5-3 and the local Citizens Advisory Council voted 17-0 in favor of the rezoning.
After the CAC vote, members of a nearby neighborhood filed a valid statutory protest petition on the rezoning case, with their main concerns being the increased traffic, noise and smells from the possible restaurants that would be developed.
Members of the planning commission who voted against the rezoning did not see the possible development as in the public’s interest. As was stated in the planning commission meeting, members of the neighborhood who had filed the VSPP stated that there were numerous grocery stores and shopping centers already in the area, some within walking distance.
Opposition Focuses on Impacts of Proposed Grocery Store
Tom Worth, attorney, represented the applicants. His presentation focused almost exclusively on the conditions that the applicants had applied to the case after discussions with the neighbors. These conditions included stormwater management, evergreen buffering between the development and the neighborhoods, and a masonry wall that would shield the neighborhoods from the site of the load dock for delivery trucks.
Members of the Woodstone neighborhood spoke out in opposition. They stated that the development would back up to their neighborhood, causing impacts such as noise and smell. They also stated that their road was already being used for cut-thru traffic, and that this would increase due to the proposed development.
“How would you like a grocery store in your backyard? That’s going to happen to me,” neighborhood resident Charlie Smith said.
In their rebuttal, Worth said that they had worked to mitigate impacts through the conditions applied to the rezoning case. He reemphasized those conditions and said that they had worked very hard to make this a transparent process where neighborhood input was valued.
Councilor Discussion Focuses on Traffic Impact
When the public hearing was closed and the time was brought back for discussion, councilors focused their attention on the traffic issues, asking Todd Delk from the transportation department to breakdown the traffic analysis in the case. He stated that the traffic caused by the shopping center would actually be less than the traffic caused by an office building being developed within the current zoning.
Worth added that part of the conditions stipulated that an extra left-hand turn lane would be added to mitigate the traffic impacts caused by the development. The applicant in the case was then given additional time to add more information about the development.
Councilor Baldwin wanted to send the item to the comprehensive planning committee but councilor Maiorano, who is the elected official of the district where the development were to occur, said that he saw no reason to prolong the case, as the applicant and CAC vote showed that the community was willing to do this.
The case was approved by a 6-2 vote, with councilors Crowder and Stephenson dissenting.