Wake County commissioners approved a design for Fuquay-Varina’s new community library Jan. 17, a key step toward replacing the aging library in Fuquay-Varina’s downtown district with an expanded facility.
The town’s new community library will be built about a mile from downtown along Northeast Judd Parkway and near the Southern Regional Center, a social services hub for southern Wake County. Construction will begin early this summer. It is slated to open about a year later, in July 2018.
The 9,500-square-foot library will more than double the size and book capacity of the 50-year-old downtown library on Fuquay Avenue.
The $6.1 million building also will be more energy efficient and feature more computers and a larger children’s activity area. Several town board members said it reminded them of the design for Fuquay-Varina’s new downtown arts center, which also will feature large, glass-paneled facades.
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Last year, the proposed location was unpopular among some town leaders and residents who favored other proposed sites. They said the library should stay in walking distance from downtown.
Some also said a more central location could benefit those without reliable transportation, including poor or unemployed residents, who are in need of internet services. The existing library is blocks from Fuquay-Varina Middle School.
“We also have a high density of residents and low-income seniors in walking distance of the current site of library who would have difficulty getting to the new site at Judd Parkway,” Commissioner Marilyn Gardner said last March, when the town approved the county’s recommendation for the new location. “At our current stage of growth, we don’t have a shuttle that could get them over there.”
But the board majority, excluding Gardner, approved the county’s recommendation because the 5.25-acre site allowed for a larger building and the ability to add a wing and convert the structure from a community library into a regional library, likely within the next decade.
County bond money will pay for the new library.
Fuquay-Varina’s Town Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a 108-acre rezoning that would allow for medium-density housing along the south side of Fleming Loop Road, despite a unanimous recommendation by the town’s planning board to deny a previous version of the request.
At the approved maximum density of three homes per acre, the rezoning allows the construction of about 320 new homes, although green-space conservation requirements mean that the effective density in parts of the neighborhood will likely exceed that figure. Reliabuilt, which has recently rezoned several large parcels in town, is the site’s prospective developer.
The Jan. 17 discussion drew a crowd of concerned residents from surrounding, less-dense neighborhoods who worry about the development’s traffic impact and that not enough has been done by the town to ensure that their homes are protected from the sound and visual impacts of the new development.
Several residents said they are frustrated that a buffering compromise they and developers had agreed upon had been unexpectedly turned down by the town.
The board voted last month to delay a decision on the rezoning, saying it wanted to allow more time for the two parties to come to an agreement. But when residents accepted the developer’s offer to build 6-foot-high berm as part of a buffer between the development and the nearby Fleming Fields neighborhood, town officials rejected that solution.
“All parties were happy, and we had a nice open discussion,” said Eddie Taylor, who lives in Fleming Fields. “About 48 hours later, I got a phone call and an email (from the developer).”
He learned the plan had changed.
Town Manager Adam Mitchell said that a berm presented water runoff and and maintenance issues that didn’t justify the marginal buffering benefits it would provide. The berm also would have to be bulldozed when Western Parkway, a major roadway that will bisect the development, is eventually built.
The petition was approved with standard buffer conditions intact.
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan