FALLS REZONING PROPOSAL MET WITH STRONG LOCAL OPPOSITION
More than 500 signatures collected in less than 1 week as homeowners express concern over traffic and detrimental effect to homeowners
• Raleigh’s City plan calls for protection of Falls corridor; corridor is greatly threatened by proposed development
• Development as proposed decreases property values for residents in Falls/Dunn vicinity, and worsens heavily congested Wake Forest-Raleigh thoroughfare
• Four grocery stores in operation within 2 miles of site, and a fifth store closed in 2011
• Residents organize to oppose rezoning and call for smart development
The Raleigh Planning Commission met on November 26 to consider a proposal that directly contradicts Raleigh’s recently approved 2030 Comprehensive Plan1, and area residents have organized a petition drive that calls on the City to maintain its current long term development outline. Morgan Property Group, based in Ft. Lauderdale and Charlotte, is attempting to rezone a small 12-acre site off Falls of Neuse Road between two neighborhoods that residents fear will have a deleterious effect on the quality of life and negatively impact home values.
Morgan has proposed to build a nearly 50,000 square foot grocery store, and up to 67,000 square feet in total retail space, including a bank and a large parking lot with 335 parking spots. The current zoning calls for the area to be developed as residential with a small overlay that allows small retail, shops, restaurants, and light office. The zoning change would allow for a strip mall to be added to an already heavily trafficked section of Falls of Neuse Road that serves as the primary thoroughfare from Wake Forest to downtown Raleigh.
NORCHOA, the North Raleigh Coalition of Home Owners, has initiated a grassroots effort to organize the surrounding community in an effort to promote smart development of the site in question. The group has generated more than 500 signatures in less than one week, and will present them to the planning commission, city council and Mayor Nancy McFarlane.
“This year alone the City completed a road widening on Falls of Neuse needed to adequately service Raleigh and Wake Forest residential traffic and Raleigh’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which are all appropriately aimed at balancing development and growth while still preserving the natural character of the Falls of Neuse corridor,” said David Cox of NORCHOA. “The 2030 Comprehensive Plan states that the City will ‘protect the character of the Falls of Neuse corridor adjacent to the Falls Lake watershed north of Durant Road by preserving the extensive roadside vegetation, the Falls Lake dam, and Falls Community’. A development that includes a 50,000 square foot grocery store is 180 degrees opposed to the approved Plan, and we request that the City act on its previous statements and protect the character of the community, and investments of home owners along the Falls corridor.”
Another concern expressed by residents of the Wood Spring neighborhood is that while residents of the Falls River and Bedford communities were made aware of the Nov. 26 meeting by Morgan Property Group, Wood Spring was never notified. Despite little notification, more than 25 people attended the Nov. 26 Planning Commission meeting, and 10 speakers unanimously expressed opposition to the Commission members. Concerned residents who were aware of the proposal attended the North Citizens Advisory Council Nov. 7, despite the proposal not being on the meeting agenda. Hundreds of others have since joined to sign the petition and voice their concerns to City leaders.
“This proposal is detrimental to every homeowner in our community due to loss of property values and the nuisance of traffic overflow, but also to anyone who uses Falls of Neuse for a daily commute,” said Wood Spring home owner Fred Chauncey. “We’d like to work with the City to help devise a development plan that does not harm taxpayers, voters and commuters in such a significant way.”
Residents cite additional traffic on the congested Falls corridor that would also divert vehicles from Durant Road and Falls of Neuse through the Wood Spring, Falls River and Bedford residential communities, as well as the proposed plan that turns the Wood Spring neighborhood entrance on Whittington Drive into a parking lot entrance. The neighborhood entrance is bordered by a heavily wooded lot that comprises the west side of the proposed 12-acre development site. Other concerns include storm water runoff, noise from overnight deliveries through residential neighborhoods, trash and light pollution.
At the Nov. 26 Planning Commission meeting, a Morgan executive vice president of development indicated his client’s vision is to service the residents of the intersection of Falls of Neuse and Dunn Roads. Residents, however, note the oversaturation of grocery stores already available to the area.
“There are four grocery stores within two miles of the Falls site, and another store that closed just two years ago – the market has spoken, there is no demand or need for a large grocery store here,” said Cox. “Conversely, parts of Raleigh have seen grocers exit and there is a lack of grocery options for people in these other areas of our City2 – we welcome smart development, and encourage Raleigh to work with developers who will address our underserved communities versus putting a fifth store here where clearly it is not needed.”
Area residents will continue the petition drive to collect signatures over the next several days, and press their case to keep the current zoning.
“Thousands of people have moved here in part because of the natural character of the Falls of Neuse corridor,” said Cox. “Places like Falls Lake Recreation Area, Falls Dam, Neuse River Greenway and the Annie Wilkerson Nature Preserve are destinations that define this area and make it a wonderful place to live and visit — now we ask only that the City keep its promises.”
For more information contact the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit online at norchoa.wordpress.com.
1 See City of Raleigh 2030 Comprehensive Plan http://www.raleighnc.gov/content/extra/Books/PlanDev/2030CompPlan/#/252
Action UD 1.2
Falls of Neuse Corridor
“Maintain and protect the character of the Falls of Neuse corridor adjacent to the Falls Lake watershed north of Durant Road by preserving the extensive roadside vegetation, the Falls Lake dam, and Falls Community.”
2 Kroger’s closing devastates a Raleigh neighborhood