Raleigh council delays vote on Crabtree Valley development

ccampbell@newsobserver.comMay 7, 2013 

Randy Stagner

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  • South Raleigh housing complex also delayed

    The Raleigh City Council also postponed a vote Tuesday on funding a 48-unit affordable housing complex near the intersection of Tryon and Lake Wheeler roads in South Raleigh.

    Nonprofit housing organization DHIC Inc. is seeking $750,000 from the city’s affordable housing fund to build the Camden Glen complex for low-income residents. But neighbors in the Camden Crossing subdivision said they learned about the plan just days before the council meeting and want input. They’re concerned that the area already has a high concentration of affordable housing, and city policies encourage a more even spread of the projects throughout Raleigh.

    “Is it fair for them to not know that this is going up?” Mayor Nancy McFarlane asked.

    But since DHIC’s deadline to apply for tax credits is May 17 – before the next City Council meeting – the council scheduled a special meeting for next Tuesday, following a full hearing before the council’s comprehensive planning commission at 10 a.m. Friday.

    Some council members chafed at the delay, saying the extra meetings are a waste of time because a majority of the council supports the project.

— Plans for the latest apartment and retail development near Crabtree Valley Mall will have to wait after a Raleigh councilman said neighbors didn’t get a chance to weigh in with traffic concerns.

Valley Terrace Apartments Co. wants to raze an older apartment complex at the northwest corner of Lead Mine Road and Glenwood Avenue and construct buildings with up to 175 apartments and 125,000 square feet of retail space. The complex would be up to nine stories tall.

The plan would bring more cars to the intersection at Glenwood, already considered a traffic nightmare. To address the issue, developers have agreed to build a pedestrian bridge spanning Glenwood, allowing residents to walk or bike to the mall.

But Councilman Randy Stagner fears that won’t be enough to keep the intersection from getting worse. He says the development should be only residential because shoppers would choke Lead Mine. And he said that neighbors in the Inman Park subdivision off Lead Mine haven’t had their say, prompting him to call for a two-week delay on the council’s approval.

“They don’t have another way out of their neighborhood” except for Lead Mine, Stagner said, calling for developers to meet with the neighborhood.

But Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin questioned Stagner’s motive for the delay.

“Your ultimate goal is to kill the project; let’s just be real here,” Baldwin said, a claim Stagner denied.

The move comes two weeks after a Raleigh council committee voted 2-1 to approve the project, with Stagner as the lone dissenter. Because of that action, the developers won’t be able to change their proposal after they meet with Inman Park residents. On May 21, the full council can only vote for the project as it stands or reject it.

If neighbors have concerns, “We can’t do anything about it even if we wanted to,” said Robin Currin, an attorney for the developer. “You’ve put us in this box.”

Stagner explained that Inman Park wasn’t notified earlier because it’s covered by a separate Citizens Advisory Council than the development. CACs are the city-sponsored neighborhood groups that developers must meet with before they win approval.

“We have a CAC that we are told to go to, and we went there twice,” Currin countered. “We have not avoided (Inman Park).”

The development has drawn support from several other neighborhoods in part because of the footbridge, which would provide a long-sought connection to both the mall property and the city’s greenways along Blue Ridge Road. Developers also would extend the site’s access road, Charles Drive, west toward Creedmoor Road, and allow only right turns at the Lead Mine entrance.

7 seconds at rush hour

With those efforts to reduce congestion, a traffic study found the project adds a seven-second rush hour delay at Lead Mine and Glenwood; the current delay averages four minutes.

A representative from the nearby Townes of Crabtree neighborhood has told the council that curbing traffic “is not about suppressing responsible development – the city needs to take a bold move.”

Valley Terrace Apartments Co. will be required to meet with the CAC group for Inman Park on Monday before a vote at the council’s May 21 meeting.

Campbell: 919-829-4802 or twitter.com/RaleighReporter

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