Midtown Raleigh News

Committee sends Northeast Raleigh Sheetz plan back to council

A controversial plan for a Sheetz gas station in Northeast Raleigh is headed to the City Council for a vote next month.

A council committee considered the rezoning plan that would put a Sheetz station at the corner of New Hope and Buffaloe roads for a second time last week, after several council members expressed concern that the 24-hour station would not be a good fit for the residential neighborhood.

Officials had expected the developers to suggest changes to the plan that would allay those concerns, but none were offered. And Ira Botvinick, the deputy city attorney, said the window for changes to the plan has closed.

However, Mack Paul, an attorney for the Sheetz developer, asked that the developer and city staff be given the chance to find a way to salvage the plan, assuming the council does not approve it.

Many neighbors are fiercely opposed to the station. They worry that a gas station will erode the character of their neighborhood because of problems such as trash, traffic and loitering. They’ve even submitted a petition that requires a supermajority of the council to vote for the application to move it forward.

Councilman John Odom, whose district includes the area, has said he is opposed to a gas station at the corner. Councilman Russ Stephenson has indicated he also has concerns about a 24-hour gas station.

No recommendation

Stephenson, who chairs the committee, said that given that the window on changes has closed, he wanted to hold a vote at the committee level. But Councilman Randy Stagner said he would prefer to give the developer more time to talk with city staff.

“I’m willing to play this out,” Stagner said.

The two voted instead to send the plan back to the full council without a recommendation. The third member of council committee, Bonner Gaylord, was not present. The council is expected to consider the plan at its Aug. 6 meeting.

During the discussion, Paul said that the developers played by the rules to make sure their plan was consistent with the city’s regulations. While officials may want to change those regulations in the future because they don’t think gas stations belong in certain areas of the city, those regulations are what is in place now, he said.

Stephenson said he disagrees with city staff’s finding that the plan is consistent with the regulations.