Cary News

Cary to consider proposed Publix shopping center development amid opposition

Yard signs that say “No more shopping center” dot the lawns of homes in two west Cary neighborhoods showing homeowner opposition to a proposed development nearby.

The proposed shopping center, which would contain a Publix, is at the intersection of Carpenter Fire Station and Green Level Church roads. The center, called Amberly Village, has spurred the creation of the group, “Neighbors Against Amberly Village,” which has hired a lawyer, put up signs throughout the neighborhoods and started an online petition that has garnered more than 200 signatures and 60 comments.

The developer has met several times with residents to discuss their concerns and has changed the original plan to address them.

But Amberly and Cary Park residents still plan to bring their opposition to the Cary Town Council meeting Thursday, Nov. 19, at 6:30 p.m. The council will hold a public hearing for the rezoning, which will be referred to the town’s planning and zoning board.

Applicants Peggy and Grover Lewter of Cary are seeking to rezone a 22-acre parcel at 7712 Carpenter Fire Station Road from residential to mixed use to allow for the project’s development. Amberly Village would contain seven buildings ranging in size from 5,500 to 55,000 square feet. One of those buildings would house a Publix supermarket.

But some neighbors believe there already are too many shopping centers in the area.

The maximum 110-square-foot commercial development would be the third shopping center at the intersection. There is a shopping center at the southeast corner, which is anchored by Harris Teeter, and another is under development at the northeast corner.

But the northwest corner development would be the first retail center on the west side of the intersection, closest to the Amberly and Cary Park subdivisions.

“We still believe that the Town of Cary should stand by the comprehensive plan, which calls for medium-density residential, not commercial development for that tract of land,” said Mary McKinney Lee, a Cary Park resident, in an email.

The residents are concerned about two town-required street connections from the western side of the shopping center into Arlington Park via Northlands Drive and Jockey Club Circle. Arlington Park is a community within the Amberly neighborhood.

“Among our greatest concerns is the safety of the residents whose streets will be used as cut-throughs to the shopping center,” Lee said.

Mike Trainor of S&A Communications, which is working with the neighbors on behalf of The Sembler Company, said developer representatives plan to bring up this concern at Thursday’s council meeting.

“Sembler has gone on the record with neighbors saying we agree with them, that we would prefer not to have the connections,” he said. “We are going to encourage that the town council can look at it at a case-by-case basis.”

Responding to residents

In September, about 40 Amberly and Cary Park residents attended a neighborhood meeting to learn more about the shopping center. The meeting at Town Hall was the first opportunity neighbors had to hear from The Sembler Company.

The developer has held two more neighborhood meetings since then, including one on Oct. 21, to get feedback on the project.

Based on feedback from that meeting, The Sembler Company made some changes to the plan, including an improved buffer between Arlington Park and Amberly Village, the incorporation of a more pedestrian-oriented main street and additional neighborhood amenities such as outdoor seating, a fountain and bike racks.

“A major design shift is to have a more walkable main street type of feel,” Trainor said. “I think the most significant (change) was actually moving where the Publix sits further east.”

Trainor said a gas station would not be developed on the site, which had been a concern of Cary Park and Amberly residents in the past. These changes were presented to residents at a neighborhood meeting Thursday, Nov. 12.

“Sembler really is actively working with the neighbors,” Trainor said. “I think we’ve proven that by making significant changes to the original plan, because we want them to be our neighbors for a long time.”

But for some members of the Neighbors Against Amberly Village group, these changes are not enough.

“While the plan presented Thursday evening is somewhat of an improvement, it does not ameliorate the primary concerns of safety, traffic and property values,” Lee said. “We are still in total opposition to the shopping center as evidenced by the 200-plus signatures on the petition.”

Kathryn Trogdon; 919-460-2608; @KTrogdon

Other business

On Thursday, the council will:

▪ Consider a concept plan for phase two of Mills Community Park and the Panther Creek greenway.

▪ Consider authorizing the lease for Brew, a cafe and concession space in The Cary theater. The council approved the authorization of the lease in September, but because of a change in the required legal notice period for leases, the council will need to vote again.

▪ Consider the rezoning of 41 acres located on the south side of Westhigh Street, a half mile west of Cary Parkway to allow for the development of up to 89 single-family homes.