A long-debated plan for a grocery store in North Raleigh met its official death on Tuesday night before a crowd of neighborhood opponents, who were clad mostly in white.
Morgan Property Group had abandoned its development proposal, saying it was withdrawing a plan that once could have brought a Publix store to Falls of Neuse and Dunn roads. The matter still required a vote, so the Raleigh City Council decided unanimously to deny the proposal. Councilman Russ Stephenson made the motion, citing the potential traffic impact and noncompliance with city plans as a reason for denial.
Even had the developer asked for approval, the plan likely lacked the votes to pass the Raleigh City Council. Thanks to neighbors’ formal protest petition, it would have required six of eight council votes to pass.
Council members Stephenson and Kay Crowder said that neighbors’ traffic concerns had swayed them against the plan.
Councilman Bonner Gaylord said he had reserved judgment, but believed the most recent proposal needed “big changes. Councilman Eugene Weeks said he had been “wavering” before the case was withdrawn, and had heard vocal protest from neighbors.
“This site is the wrong place to maximize growth and development,” said David Cox, speaking for close to 200 people who had crowded into council chambers.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin, Councilman John Odom and Councilman Wayne Maiorano declined to say how they would have voted had the developer continued to push the case. They said generally that they didn’t deal in hypothetical questions.
Odom said that the project, proposed late in 2013, had always seemed a long shot.
“I don’t feel like it ever had the votes,” he said.
The developer said that a hostile atmosphere had made proper consideration impossible.
McFarlane said she had heard and understood traffic concerns, and believed most of the neighborhood opposed the rezoning.
“I think that it’s been one of the longer, more complex rezoning cases,” she said. “I just think it’s reached the point where it was no longer possible to negotiate in good faith.”