Wake County

NC’s fastest-growing town is mapping out its future. And it wants your help.

Houses are being built in the Cedar Lakes development, off of Young Street in Rolesville. The town is the fastest-growing in the state.
Houses are being built in the Cedar Lakes development, off of Young Street in Rolesville. The town is the fastest-growing in the state. skillenberg@newsobserver.com

As North Carolina’s fastest-growing town, Rolesville has transformed from a small farming community to a popular family-friendly suburb where residents leave town for work, shopping and entertainment.

Now it’s ready to map out its next wave of growth, with a focus on creating a lively downtown where residents can eat dinner and browse stores.

A proposed comprehensive plan sets out a blueprint for how – and where – the town should grow and which services it should expand. Rolesville residents can weigh in on the plan during a public hearing Aug. 1.

“People are wanting to have more things closer to them, rather than having to go to Raleigh or Wake Forest exclusively,” said town Planning Director Danny Johnson. “More choices is the key thing we’re emphasizing.”

Rolesville, in northeast Wake County about 15 miles from downtown Raleigh, has seen a population boom along with the rest of the Triangle. It had the highest growth rate of any municipality in the state each year from 2010 to 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2000, Rolesville was home to fewer than 1,000 people, but now it has more than 7,000. Most of its growth has been residential, with many people buying homes and commuting to Raleigh or Research Triangle Park for work.

Nearly two-thirds of the town’s houses have been built since 2000, and more than 60 percent of residents have lived in Rolesville five years or less, according to the growth plan. The average age is 35 – 10 years younger than the state average.

Here are some key points from the proposed comprehensive plan.

Downtown

Rolesville doesn’t really have a downtown.

Town hall and the police station are both in a shopping center off of South Main Street, which also features fast-food restaurants, a pharmacy and other businesses.

The growth plan aims to center a downtown around the intersection of Young and Main streets. That’s where a new town hall building, a library and a recreation center could be built.

Rolesville’s governing board could rezone properties to allow mixed-use development along Main Street. That could encourage private developers to build apartments, while incentives and reduced development fees could attract businesses.

“We’re trying to make everything fit together into a cohesive neighborhood, a cohesive community where you can work, shop, eat and live,” Johnson said.

The plan also calls for sprucing up the area with trees, plazas and “pocket parks,” and adding more parking options.

City leaders hope to annex land along Young Street for downtown development and create a gateway to downtown. A group could be formed to plan downtown events.

A survey by the town showed that residents’ top desire for a downtown was more restaurants. Mayor Frank Eagles said the town is close to an agreement to bring a restaurant, brewery and distillery to Main Street.

Recreation, parks and greenways

Rolesville wants to build a recreation center, parks, greenways and athletic fields.

There’s a lot of demand for youth sports programs, according to the town.

“Greater levels of recreation programs increases physical activity, decreases medical costs, lowers tripmaking needed to reach these activities elsewhere, and helps parents keep their children occupied in a healthy, social environment,” the growth plan says.

The plan also says Rolesville should buy land, potentially for an athletic complex, before private developers snatch it up for more housing. About 40 percent of the town’s usable land is undeveloped.

Roughly 31 miles of greenways are proposed in the plan.

New homes

The plan targets south and west Rolesville for residential development.

Aging single-family homes along the town’s perimeter should be torn down, according to the plan, and multi-family residential growth should go downtown.

Commercial growth

The U.S. 401 Rolesville Bypass opened in 2015, easing commuter traffic on Main Street.

Now town leaders hope to see commercial growth on the eastern side of the bypass. Mixed-use development on the west side could create a gateway to the town center.

Eagles said town leaders are hoping for a shopping center and want to target commercial development for Main Street, Pulley Town Road, Young Street and Jonesville Road.

“There’s some prime areas for a commercial and industrial park,” he said.

Transit and roads

New streets are a key part of the growth plan.

Proposed secondary roads include: a four-lane road connecting Louisburg and Fowler roads south of the bypass; two-lane streets between Forestville and Burlington Mills roads and Main Street; and a three-lane road connecting Pulley Town and Jones Dairy roads.

Rolesville residents drive an average 30 minutes to get to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The plan aims to make Rolesville more accessible by bike, on foot and through public transit. Sidewalks and greenery would be built along Main Street, Young Street and Rogers Road.

Rolesville hopes to link up with GoTriangle bus routes at the planned Triangle Town Center hub, and also for park-and-ride bus service to downtown Raleigh.

In the town survey, trains and buses were both popular options. About three-fourths of respondents said they thought there were insufficient transit options for people who couldn’t drive or didn’t own a car.

“I’ve got some seniors here now that need transportation, so that’s where a bus or some kind of shuttle comes in,” Eagles said.

He said he was surprised by the number of residents polled who were interested in commuter rail. At 26 percent, it was the most popular new transit option.

Eagles said he hopes residents can eventually benefit from commuter rail in nearby Wake Forest.

Preserving identity

Eighty-nine percent of residents who took the town survey said they thought Rolesville’s growth was positive.

But Johnson said preserving the town’s identity is key throughout the process.

“The biggest challenge as we grow as an area is to maintain a sense of place,” he said.

The cost

It’s unclear how much the proposed projects would cost.

Residents would likely see gradual increases in the town’s property tax rate for some of the projects. The town’s property tax rate is 48 cents per $100 in valuation.

The town plans to seek state and federal funding to build new roads. It could also benefit from state grants for community development.

Sam Killenberg: 919-829-4802

Have your say

The Rolesville Board of Commissioners will have a public hearing on the proposed comprehensive plan at 7 p.m. Aug. 1 at Town Hall, 502 Southtown Circle.

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