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Raleigh growth plan to curb sprawl

Posted December 1, 2008

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— Raleigh city planners rolled out ideas Monday about how to direct the city's growth over the next two decades.

The proposals are the first updates to Raleigh's Comprehensive Plan since 1989.

Raleigh's population was about 380,000 people in July – an 84 percent increase from the 207,000 people recorded by the 1990 census – and it is now one of the 50 most-populous cities nationwide. The city's population is expected to grow to 600,000 by 2030, based on national population trends.

Under current zoning, planners say, such growth would spur a "centerless and undifferentiated pattern of sprawling development." Sprawl is taxing the city's green space, roads and sewer capacity and will only become worse if changes aren't made to the city's growth plan, they said.

"Taxes tend to go up because you have to maintain this vast network of highways and infrastructure, and people are finding out that the congestion isn't worth it, the taxes aren't worth it," Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver said.

The Comprehensive Plan calls for funneling 60 percent of future growth – about 72,000 homes, townhouses and apartments – into eight growth centers that are in locations with combined highway and targeted transit access.

"People can go to one location. They can live, they can work, they can shop (and) they can find things to do if they want recreation," Silver said.

The centers include downtown Raleigh, Brier Creek, the Midtown area near North Hills, Crabtree Valley, west Raleigh, the area around Cameron Village and North Carolina State University, the area near Triangle Town Center mall and New Bern Avenue around WakeMed.

This year, more than 1,000 people – a record number – have moved to downtown, increasing the population there to 6,000, city officials estimate. Development in downtown is expected to stay flat next year, but pick up in 2010, officials said.

Along with the growth centers, planners say, new homes should be built smaller, and the city should become considerably more transit friendly, with street cars, express buses and commuter rail.

"The car is not going away, but I think people are looking for choices to walk, to bike and to take transit, both rail and bus," Silver said.

Some people have criticized the plan, saying it doesn't guarantee that money will be spent on commuter rails and bus lines necessary to make public transit work in Raleigh.

The comprehensive plan also targets 18 areas for economic growth and revitalization, such as Glenwood Avenue from Pleasant Valley to Ebenezer Church Road and Capital Boulevard from downtown to the Interstate 440 Beltline.

"We want to find out if some of the shopping centers, when they age out, can redevelop with housing," Silver said.


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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 2, 2008

    This plan will push development into other cities in Wake County, unincorporated Wake County, Franklin County, Chatham County, and Johnston County.

    This will make the traffic problem worse because people will be driving farther in their cars so they can live in a house with a yard instead of the Socialist Utopia that Raleigh will become with everybody living in a Condo downtown.

    This has already happened in Wake County when Cary stopped development. Development moved down NC-55 to Apex, Holly Springs, and Fuquay-Varina. The state has had to widen NC-55 to accommodate this growth instead of handling it without the road construction if Cary had allowed development to continue.

  • jeffthompson Dec 2, 2008


    Charlotte's Light Rail was not really paid for by us local taxpayers. It was paid for by local large companies and we also have an extra sales tax just in Mecklenburg County for Restaurants, Hotels, Rental Cars...so ALOT of visitors are paying for our Light Rail.

    I don't really have to worry about Light Rail...I live in Uptown Charlotte and work from home...but use Light Rail to go to restaurants and shopping and gallery crawls at SouthEnd. :)

  • veyor Dec 2, 2008

    Liberal dreams.

  • abeille Dec 2, 2008

    starglow. Using South Florida as a viable example of public transit is extremely laughable. S FL is the example everyone should look at for how NOT to plan - an example of the WORST that can happen when you do not plan for future growth.

    There is NOT a viable public transit system in S FL. Tri-Rail and buses? That does not = a decent attempt at public transit. Metrorail in Miami? Let's not even go there.

    S FL investing heavily in tranportation? Look at the Palmetto expressway - great investment. That road has been perpetually under contstruction for at least the last 30 years. By the time one lane is added, traffic volume has increased to the point that another two are needed. They are far too REACTIVE instead of PROACTIVE. Raleigh needs to be PROACTIVE, but we are already behind the power curve - the growth is here NOW.

    For those who don't like the Comp Plan - don't complain, you had plenty of chances to contribute to it. Many public meetings and discussions were held.

  • AtALost Dec 1, 2008

    I'm sure there are those interested in paying a mortgage for apartment like living. Since much of the growth is due to northerners moving here, they'll think it's a great bargain. Being a native of NC, I like having some elbow room and would prefer not to watch my neighbors TV when I look out the window or smell what they're cooking when I walk outside. I welcome this plan since I don't plan to move into any of the areas mentioned and would love a transit system if it will lessen the distracted texting, eating, parenting, makeup applying, reading, sleeping and generally incompetent drivers filling the roads now.

  • determined2win Dec 1, 2008

    First plan of action: use the empty warehouses & large buildings as new schools.

    Second plan of action: stop commercial development & reuse the empty commercial buildings that are already standing awaiting occupancy.

    Third Plan of Action: Hire the jobless to build homes for the homeless - thanks ALF! There - you've just employed those who want to work, and sheltered those w/o a roof over their heads.

    Fourth Plan of Action: Hire the carnies from the State Fair during their off-season to build a 'light rail' system in Raleigh - heck, if they can erect a rollercoaster in 2-3 days, they can probably build a light rail system...

    Fifth Plan of Action: Citizen revolt to overthrow the inept politicians that run Meekerville & believe that we need another art tower, museum, or convention center before improving the basic necessities for the existing citizens...

    Sixth Plan of Action: Check credentials at the gate...

  • starglow2005 Dec 1, 2008

    "I'd take that over sitting on I-95 in Broward or Dade County for hours during the peak times! Been there, done that...learnt where Military Trail and the other back roads could take me! :)"

    I tried to avoid I-95 too whenever possible and took the back roads. At least South Florida has continued to invest heavily in it's transportation infrastructure with improving public transit and many road widening projects. Tri-Rail has built a double track system now and has come a long way since we moved away from Florida many years ago.

    People here don't seem to understand that building and operating a public rail system is very expensive and can not be sustained on ticket revenues alone without being partially subsidized by local and government funding.

  • determined2win Dec 1, 2008

    Real issue here is that the "Who's" downtown running Meekerville are so disconnected from the facts - we've got too many people & limited resources, and developer money talks... so it's easy for the politicos to dip into the developer's pockets - say it ain't so... but money talks -

  • determined2win Dec 1, 2008

    Quote: "As a native of Raleigh...I can't believe that local politics will not approve Light Rail for Raleigh. I currently live in Charlotte and NC voted NO to Charlotte's Light Rail. Charlotte came up with their own money. Charlotte's 2nd line is already under construction.

    Ummm Jeff, don't take this wrong but WHERE do you propose that the area city fathers develop & place this mythical "Light Rail system"? You will ask that it be routed near your residence or office, I'll want it to be near my residence or office; John Q Public will demand the same... it's a no-win argument. The time to propose light rail in the RDU-Chapel Hill area was in the 50's-60's - when plans for I-40 were laid down & an elevated train could have been designed down the center median.

    I wouldn't use the train if it doesn't go where I need to go; probably true for most people... but the taxpayers foot the bill for a limited population of users -

  • Mitch Dec 1, 2008

    They need to tear down the warehouse district and turn it into a reservoir. Then divert the neuse (or widen and divert crabtree creek) and run it through downtown. That is the answer Mitch

    I like this idea.
    December 1, 2008 11:50 a.m.

    They will ignore us Wakemom, and then in another 10-20 years they'll come up with the idea "all on their own". A river should run through it.