A proposed 24-hour gas station with a convenience store drew criticism Wednesday from nearby residents who are concerned about increased traffic at an already hazardous intersection near the Reedy Creek Plaza Shopping Center.
The Cary Town Council is considering rezoning a 1.93-acre site in front of the shopping center off NE Maynard Road to allow for up to 7,000 square feet of retail sales and service space. An associated preliminary development plan proposes a 24-hour gas station and convenience store, which is expected to be a Sheetz.
Debra Grannan, a senior planner, said town staff had heard several concerns from neighbors regarding traffic impacts, a reduced buffer and the visual impacts of a service station canopy.
Five residents spoke in opposition of the proposed development and are most concerned with the gas station, which will generate about 6,500 site trips per day, adding cars to an already hazardous intersection at Maynard Road and Reedy Creek Road.
“We just cannot simply handle the traffic,” said Judy Vinitsky, a resident of Ardmore at Reedy Creek. “To make a left turn today, we have to cross three lanes of traffic. I don’t believe this intersection can safely handle the thousands of extra vehicles that will be brought here by a Sheetz.”
Other complains included noise, lighting, decreased property values and increased crime.
“I realize that Reedy Creek Square has had a recent decrease in occupancy and wish it were a vibrant and fully-operating shopping center,” said Aggie Langan, another resident of Ardmore at Reedy Creek. “Solid retail businesses are definitely needed, but Reedy Creek Square can certainly do much better in recruiting a future tenant.”
The site was planned for office and institutional uses, but lawyer Jason Barron, who is representing the Barnhill Company, a Rocky Mount contractor, said the company believes the site isn’t appropriate for those uses.
“It’s a 1.93-acre site surrounded on all sides by roads,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot you can do for a meaningful office and institutional use so we believe that office (use) isn’t really a viable option for this site.”
Barron said there aren’t many gas stations on the right side of the road for motorists traveling south on Harrison Avenue. The Sheetz would allow those drivers to “take a right in, get what they need, and go on their way.”
But several council members, including Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, said the plan would be difficult for them to approve.
“I have to have a compelling reason,” he said. “I’m looking for that compelling reason, and as of now, I don’t have it.”
The council referred the rezoning to the planning and zoning board. It likely will return before the council in a few months.
The council also considered a request to rezone a portion of the SearStone retirement community property off High House Road to allow for 48 attached residential dwelling units – eight units per building – and two recreation buildings.
The site was planned for the same number of duplex-style homes.
“This provides for a more affordable opportunity in SearStone,” said Barron, who represented applicant Bill Sears of SearStone.
Barron said it also responds to market demands for “condominium-style, senior living opportunities.” He said these housing opportunities would still be sold rather than rented.
The council referred the rezoning to the planning and zoning board. It likely will return before the council in a couple months.
In other business, the council also:
▪ Appointed Cherry Kekaert LLP as the town’s auditor for fiscal years 2016-18 with an option to renew for up to an additional two years.
▪ Voted whether to have town staff look at cost and options for refreshing the town seal. The motion failed 5-2.
▪ Considered a rezoning request that would allow a permanent structure to be placed over the River Rock Swim Club pool to make it a year-round facility. The council referred the request to the planning and zoning board.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon