Fuquay-Varina, N.C. — Residents in Fuquay-Varina are fighting plans to build a liquor store they say will be too close to a church and an elementary school.
Neighbors say they want something done before construction begins in March on the ABC store slated for the corner of Mill Creek Drive and U.S. Highway 401.
“The ABC store doesn’t belong here,” homeowner Mike Coschigano said. “There’s a day-care center. There’s a church. There’s a senior center.”
A 200-unit apartment complex is also going up near the site, which is near Fuquay-Varina Elementary School.
But officials said the location of the liquor store is perfectly legal. The intersection is in a mixed-use zoning area, which allows both residential and retail property. The project meets land-use regulations, so the town’s Board of Commissioners approved it.
“That doesn’t make it right,” resident Janet Kala said. “It’s just not a family-friendly store that needs to be there. If there were no other options, that’s one thing. But there are so many options. This was just a poor choice.”
Coschigano and other residents point out that Town Commissioner Cynthia Sheldon, who approved the project, also sits on the Wake County Board of Alcoholic Control. They consider that a conflict of interest.
Sheldon said she did not need to recuse herself from the vote because there was no conflict – she receives no personal financial benefit from the store.
The town has ordinances against adult-themed businesses operating within 1,000 feet of a school or church or within 500 feet of residential property.
But a liquor store isn’t considered adult-themed under the law since patrons don’t consume alcohol on the premises.
ABC officials said they expect to break ground on the 5,500-square-foot store in about 30 days. Neighbors said they’ll continue to fight it.
“Growth has its price,” Coschigano said. “But I think this is one that probably shouldn’t be paid.”