I do not support this rezoning request. Here is why.
Z-45-20 is a rezoning request to allow up to 350 apartments at the corner of Buffaloe and North New Hope.
Residents in the area are concerned about adding that much density to that location. Among their concerns are traffic and traffic accidents.
We received a detailed report about traffic accidents over the past 5 years near the intersection. There are two reports. One is for Buffaloe rd and one is for North New Hope rd. Here are the summary statistics:
North New Hope:
There have been 301 crashes.
There have been 3 fatal crashes
There have been 163 injuries
There has been $1,974,772 in estimated property damage
There have been 172 crashes
There has been 1 fatality
There have been 95 injuries
There has been $1,150,701 in estimated property damage.
All together that is 473 crashes, 4 fatalities, 258 injuries and $3 million in property damage. The intersection is one of the most dangerous in Wake County
The residents from the North New Hope/Buffaloe road area have expressed their disagreement with this rezoning and have asked that we not approve it. Many of these residents have lived in the area for many years while others are relatively new. None that I am aware of supports this rezoning.
The residents of this area have been very involved with their community. Just five years ago they worked hard and diligently to create a small area plan to guide development at this location. In addition, the current zoning was also established just five years ago with buffers and protections that were the result of of successful, good faith negotiations.
The residents trusted their government and worked in good faith with City staff and City Council, developers, and land owners to develop a plan and zoning that will provide for responsible growth and development. After many months of hard work the Council agreed unanimously with the outcome of that hard work.
The residents find, as I think anyone would, that the proposed rezoning is inconsistent with the small area plan. The proposed heights are too tall. A key policy of the small area plan sets a maximum of three stories and 50 feet in height. The proposed rezoning requests four stories and 59 feet – 20% over the maximum specified in the plan.
The current zoning provides transition areas that include an earthen berm, solid concrete walls, and heavy vegetation. The proposed rezoning removes those neighborhood protections, eliminates the berm, the concrete walls, most of the vegetation, reduces the size of the transition area and provides, instead, a small, wooden fence. Instead of an adequate transition, they will have a parking lot facing their homes.
These residents, in good faith, worked with the City staff and Council on a plan for good development that benefits both land owner and the community. Now, an out-of-state developer is asking that we overturn all of that in order for them to maximize their profits.
We would all like to see a compromise. Unfortunately, the residents and the developer are far apart on this rezoning case. While some concessions have been made, those concessions do not equate to compromise. Compromise means choices that all parties are willing to live with. However, in this case, the gap is great.
The developer has asked us to close the hearing and make a choice. They have signaled that negations are done. The concessions are clear but compromise is far away.
I find the proposed rezoning to be inconsistent with the small area plan and is not in the best interest of the public. I am particularly concerned about high density, car dependent growth at one of the most dangerous intersections in Raleigh and in Wake County. This proposed rezoning and proposed project promotes sprawl when we want to encourage development on our transit corridors and in growth areas.
Given the history of this area, the hard work and good faith of its citizens, the vision that the citizens have for the future of this area, and past agreements with the City and Council on that vision, I cannot support this rezoning as is and I hope that the developer will seriously add conditions that will lead to compromise.