Wake County

What should the future hold for Falls of Neuse Road in Raleigh?

Rezoning opposition signs lined a section of Falls of Neuse Road in January 2015 in North Raleigh. The long-debated Publix grocery store proposed for the intersection of Dunn Road and Falls of Neuse Road was eventually retracted.
Rezoning opposition signs lined a section of Falls of Neuse Road in January 2015 in North Raleigh. The long-debated Publix grocery store proposed for the intersection of Dunn Road and Falls of Neuse Road was eventually retracted. tlong@newsobserver.com

Alice Meyer’s commute time from her home in North Raleigh to her job downtown has nearly doubled in the last decade.

Her neighborhood off Falls of Neuse Road is nice, green and family-friendly. Now developers want to build more shops and grocery stores, which would increase traffic even more.

“We know it’s going to grow. We know they’re going to develop the land, but we want them to develop it responsibly,” Meyer said. “I think it’s a safety issue.”

Growing opposition to new development is prompting the city to revisit its plans along Falls of Neuse Road, one of North Raleigh’s key thoroughfares. Raleigh is asking residents to help craft a new area plan that will help guide development along the corridor for the coming years.

The city will hold a public “kickoff” meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Durant Road Middle School. Planners will break residents up into groups and ask about their general feelings toward development in certain spots along Falls of Neuse.

The city will likely schedule another meeting for June 21, before a new area plan is crafted over the summer based on resident input. A draft plan is likely to go before the City Council for approval this fall.

The city in 2006 adopted a plan for the Falls of Neuse area, specifically the stretch between Durant Road and Falls Lake. The plan encourages mixed-use development, which residents have opposed.

More than 36,000 drivers now travel that section of the road each day, and the city applied protections to prevent contamination in the watershed in 2008. City planners say traffic and watershed concerns have led to budding anti-development sentiment.

“There have been some pretty contentious development and rezoning cases,” said Jason Hardin, a city planner. “In cases like that, it makes you want to take a step back and see what people want to see out there.”

The area has been home to several controversial development proposals in recent years.

In 2015, a developer canceled plans for a Publix grocery story at the corner of Falls of Neuse and Dunn roads after failing to garner enough community support. Residents currently are divided over a proposed mixed-use project known as Spencer Ridge at the corner of Falls of Neuse and Raven Ridge roads.

Crafting a new area plan could bring residents peace of mind, Hardin said.

“It’s better to be proactive than reactive,” he said.

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht

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