It’s a familiar story: A western Raleigh neighborhood is trying to ward off an unwanted bit of construction planned for its streets. Its residents worry about traffic and noise, saying the project just isn’t appropriate for the middle of Harden Road.
But the object of their ire is unusual: They’re fighting a fire station – or, more specifically, its proposed address.
The new station would stand nearly surrounded by houses, some of which the city plans to purchase and demolish. The city wants to replace nearby Station 14, which is deteriorating and too small for modern needs, according to city staff.
The plan would move the station from five-lane Lake Boone Trail onto Harden Road, an unlined, two-lane street that serves the Meredith Woods neighborhood and some office buildings.
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“It feels like encroachment to us,” said Jennifer Haygood, who lives just across from the proposed facility. “Is this really the best location?”
Raleigh wants to build the station at the western edge of the residential area, just west of Nancy Ann Drive, where a handful of homes now stand.
Haygood and others worry that the introduction of the fire station will invite commercial interest and other, more intense development toward the neighborhood. The city bought the proposed site for $590,000 in October, before discussing its plans with neighbors, according to Haygood.
Residents worry about late-night sirens and large trucks on their street, which lacks gutters and sidewalks. One man asked at a public meeting if the trucks couldn’t limit their noise after-hours.
The city has identified a number of other options. The owners of a 7-acre lot at Harden and Blue Ridge roads want “significantly more” than the $2.8 million valuation the city put on that land.
If the station stayed on the same property, the city couldn’t reuse an existing building plan; the site could incur an extra $2 million in construction costs, the city found. However, the city may also end up paying for more property as a buffer if it goes with the Harden Road option.
The station also likely couldn’t have as many “drive-through” bays, according to staff.
Neighbors have asked whether the city doesn’t have an ulterior motive for moving the station: They think Rex Healthcare wants to buy the land, which borders its hospital. A Rex representative said the hospital watches nearby land, but had no comment on this parcel.
“The fire department has looked extensively, and this is the best recommendation that they can make,” said Councilman Bonner Gaylord, whose district includes the sites.
“I know that the neighborhoods have some concerns about the impact the fire station will have. I think we need to weigh those.”
He thinks the Raleigh City Council should send the matter to a committee, which means it might not be settled for weeks or months.
The council will hear the matter at its 1 p.m. Tuesday session.