Midtown Raleigh News

Planning Commission OKs North Raleigh Publix grocery plan

The long-debated grocery store proposed for the North Raleigh intersection of Dunn Road and Falls of Neuse Road won approval from the city’s Planning Commission Tuesday.

The commissioners’ 8-1 recommendation now goes to the Raleigh City Council for a final decision. Commissioner Joe Lyle was the dissenting vote.

The developer Morgan Property Group’s 13-acre proposal originally could have accommodated a Publix grocery store. Morgan recently scaled down its plans for the anchor grocery store size from 49,000 square feet to 29,000 square feet.

However, the proposal still would allow up to 58,000 square feet of retail if spread across multiple buildings, along with some residential development. Neighborhood organizations remain firmly opposed to the rezoning.

Commissioners split in their reasoning. Joe Lyle sided with neighbors, saying the rezoning represented too great of a change from an earlier master plan. The property is zoned for office use and about 6,000 square feet of retail use. “I keep coming back to the original master plan, and for those reasons I’m not going to support the rezoning,” Lyle said.

Commissioner Adam Terando said that the rezoning was a reasonable accommodation of growth needs. “There’s an opportunity for development that has been scaled back considerably,” he said.

Commissioner Quince Fleming said he approved of the project because it lined up with the future land-use map, which he helped craft. He moved for approval, also citing the city’s comprehensive plan and public interest.

Commissioner John Buxton said the case met many neighbors’ demands. Commissioner Chairman Steve Schuster said the neighbors had helped reduce traffic impact.

“The community has had a profound impact on this case to date and will continue to have a profound impact,” Schuster said.

Schuster said the commission had to follow the city’s adopted policies, and that only the council could change them.

The developer’s critics, largely led by resident David Cox, say the grocery store would pose a danger by putting extra traffic on neighborhood streets. Neighbors also worry that a new grocery store could put other area food stores out of business, among other concerns. The rezoning will need six affirmative votes from the eight-member council to proceed.