My wife and I moved into our house off of Falls of Neuse Road about eleven years ago. Shortly after we moved in we got involved with our neighbors as plans moved forward to widen Falls of Neuse Road from a two lane country road to four lanes. There was a plan at that time to plan ahead for a six lane super street by placing the four lanes on the outside of six lane corridor. We did not share that vision of six lane super street and advocated for a four lane parkway. That vision for a four lane parkway, except for two desired traffic lights, was adopted by City Council and is what is on the ground today.
There has always been a plan memorialized in the City’s comprehensive plan to maintain as much as possible the rural character of Falls of Neuse north of I540. Development along the corridor has been predominantly residential. Commercial development has been kept to a minimum and there is no industrial development. This character of the corridor is why thousands of people have chosen to live here and to invest in their homes. The Falls of Neuse neighborhoods together form a small town that just happen to be in a city.
It is this small town/rural character that we are working to protect. This is why some 600 people turned out a few years ago to vote overwhelmingly against a grocery anchored strip mall at Dunn and Falls of Neuse Roads. It is why this room was packed again to oppose another strip mall at Raven Ridge and Falls of Neuse.
And it is one of the main reasons why I first ran three years ago for this seat on City Council.
Falls of Neuse winds past more than a dozen neighborhoods – Wakefield, Bedford, Falls River, River Oaks, Wood Spring, Woodbridge, Daltons Ridge, River Run, Oakcroft, Falls Point, Raven Ridge, and Raven Point to name a few. On the west side of Falls of Neuse is the Falls Lake watershed protection area and home to the Annie Wilkerson Nature Preserve and Falls Lake Park. On the east side of Falls of Neuse is the Richland Creek watershed protection area. And along the south side of the Neuse river run the Neuse river greenway that is a part of the Mountain to Sea Trail. And right on Falls of Neuse is the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church founded by former slaves and in continuous existence since the 1800’s.
The Falls of Neuse corridor is a unique location in Raleigh with a unique combination of low intensity residential, natural resources, and historic sites including the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, as well as the historic Falls Community. The vision of the residents and many visitors to the area is to preserve the character of this area as much as possible.
As the elected representative and a fellow resident of this area I am committed to that preservation. Make no mistake. The matter before us today is to widen a section of Falls of Neuse between Durant and I540. This widening is simply the first phase of three phases to transform Falls of Neuse from what is today a four lane parkway into a six lane super street.
As the duly elected representative of District B I want to be very clear to the community, to my fellow Council Members, and to the Mayor, that I do not and will not support transforming Falls of Neuse into a six lane super street. Keeping Falls of Neuse Road a four lane parkway and protecting the Falls of Neuse neighborhoods and community must, in my opinion, be a policy priority. And it is a policy priority that I represent and will fight for.
To that end, let us begin the discussion for a better plan for the future not only of the Falls of Neuse but all of North Raleigh and northern Wake County.