A controversial 24-hour Sheetz gas station almost certainly will not be built in Northeast Raleigh, but developers still have a chance to find a use for the land at the intersection of New Hope and Buffaloe roads.
The latest move in the Sheetz case came during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, when Councilman John Odom announced the developers’ last-minute willingness to nix gas stations as an accepted use on the property.
Several members of the council, including Odom, have indicated they think a gas station would be the wrong fit for the residential neighborhood.
But the city has rules about what changes can be made to an application and when – and the deadline for changes that would both remove the gas station and keep the application palatable to the developer has passed.
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As a result, the developers will have to use an unusual procedure to make changes.
Process rarely used
Instead of changing their original application, the developers can submit a parallel application that makes the changes, which will go through the planning process, including a public hearing and a recommendation from the planning board. When the new application reaches the council, officials can choose whether to substitute in the changes.
It’s a process that’s only been used once before, and now that the city’s unified development ordinance is in place, it’s one that won’t be needed again, said Mitchell Silver, the city’s planning director. The ordinance allows more flexibility for when and how changes are made.
The process is so rarely used because most applicants meet the deadline to make any changes, Silver said.
“The clock just ran out,” he said.
Many residents near the proposed Sheetz have been vocal opponents of it. They worry that a gas station will erode the character of their neighborhood because of problems such as trash, traffic and loitering.
Chris Allen, one resident who opposed the Sheetz, said it’s a good thing for neighbors that a gas station appears to be off the table. But that doesn’t mean neighbors are OK with just anything else.
“It all depends what they want to bring forward in the new application,” he said.
Odom said he’s open to other commercial uses for the land, though nothing that would be open 24 hours each day. Ultimately, he said he wants whatever is built there to be something that would benefit nearby residents.
Councilman Russ Stephenson, who has voiced his own concerns about the Sheetz, said during the meeting that it isn’t just a matter of eliminating gas stations from the new application. He also would like to see conditions in areas such as stormwater management, hours of operation and lighting.