Volume 16, Number 7
Despite pleas from 10 neighbors along Ligon Mill Road, the Wake Forest Planning Board voted six to two to recommend approval by the town board of a requested rezoning to light industrial for a 74-acre tract on Ligon Mill Road and extending westward to the CSX rail line and the South Forest Business Park. Members Al Hinton and Rod Springer voted no and Colleen Sharpe was absent from the nine-member appointed board.
“I think we need more industrial zoning in Wake Forest,” board member Chad Sary, also formerly the assistant director for the town’s planning department, said. “I think this is the first request in twenty years we’ve seen.” He made the motion to approve, citing town requirements – traffic mitigation, buffering and limitations on the type of approved industry – which would ease some of the problems the opponents cited.
Vice chairman Thad Juszczak asked to look at the uses allowed in light industrial zonine. “I think many of them seemed to think that light industrial was waste disposal. They (the allowed uses) are not noxious. The town really needs more light industrial and this is a reasonable place to put it.”
Sary said the often-cited reason for disapproval is the morning traffic. “We and they (the neighbors) would get another crack at it” when the future purchaser submits a site plan that must be considered by the town and planning boards with a public hearing.
Springer looked at the list of uses and objected because some allowed uses are a prison or a waste recycling facility. “There are a lot of people living over there. Is it right to give them this next door?” Hinton had objected to the plan after the Community Development Department’s presentation made by Development Services Manager Jennifer Currin. “Ligon Mill Road already has enough traffic problems,” Hinton said, which prompted the 30 or so people in the audience who opposed the plan to break into applause. They also applauded the opposition speakers.
Keith Shackleford, an attorney speaking for the owner, Fredrick Lewis III, said there are three tracts all zoned differently and Lewis is seeking the light industrial zoning as a step in making the propert more marketable. He noted there is a power line easement crossing the property and it abuts the rail line, “making it more difficult to sell as residential.”
Dale Deidrichs, an abutting property owner, said, “We don’t need this.” He said he had been told the close properties “would lose 10 to 25 percent of our resale value. It’s been for sale for 27 years. We shouldn’t have to take a hit for that” because it could not be sold for residential.
Janice MacKay, who lives in Lightfoot Court nearby, said she hoped the property would remain either its current county zoning, rural district, or open space. “It’s the best way of extending the park system.” She said that at 7:30 in the morning traffic backs up substantially from its intersection with Burlington Mills Road. Her letter asked that there be safeguards in the property is rezoned to light industrial, banning hazardous material, chemicals, water pollution, noise, light and air pollution.
Altogether 10 neighbors objected or asked questions, citing traffic, existing noise and light from the business park.
“You will not be blind-sided by this,” planning board Chairman Ed Gary told the crowd. “There will be a public meeting when the development plan is submitted.” And later, “We work for the good of everyone.”
The board quickly approved the other two requests, a 78-lot rezoning for a 30-acre residential subdivision – a reworking of an earlier plan – that will be an extension of the Del Webb age-restricted subdivision in Traditions across Dunn Creek and a request to allow more uses for the 10-acre property on the east side of Capital Boulevard just north of the Harris Crossing shopping center.
For the subdivision, John Myers with JPM South, said, “Del Webb does have this property under contract and plans to go ahead with its development.” It will have the same zoning and covenants as the Del Webb project in Traditions.
For the 10 acres owned by The Wright People, Joe Lyte said Tops & Shanks LLC of Raleigh intends to build a Planet Fitness on part of the property and build something else on the remainder in the future. He said there is a natural riparian buffer on the north side of the property that will be maintained.
The planning board meeting was delayed 10 minutes to allow the town board to leave its closed session with the town attorney, walk into the room and adjourn the work session. The word later that night was that two people in the room had a rather heated discussion and neither was the two mayoral candidates, Mayor Vivian Jones and Commissioner Jim Thompson. Commissioner Brian Pate was recused from the session he said when he walked into the meeting room, leaving only Commissioners Greg Harrington, Anne Reeve and Margaret Stinnett as possible for the heated discussion.