Local News

Raleigh, county at odds over watershed development

Posted March 1, 2010

— Raleigh officials on Monday urged the Wake County Board of Commissioners to reject a proposal that would allow a shopping center to open in the Falls Lake watershed.

The commissioners considered the proposal Monday afternoon before sending it to a committee for more discussion.

Lumber yard near Falls Lake Developer wants shopping center near Falls Lake

The Wake County Planning Board last month approved a plan that would allow developers to convert a lumber yard at the intersection of N.C. Highway 98 and Old Creedmoor Road into a shopping center.

Under the plan, some property owners in the watershed who were given exemptions when the county adopted its Unified Development Ordinance four years ago because their properties didn't meet zoning rules would be given the opportunity to obtain a special-use permit to redevelop the sites.

The plan would open up designated "activity centers" in the watershed to a wider range of uses, including banks, restaurants and bars, according to the Planning Board. Officials estimate the plan would affect no more than 10 properties in the county.

"We believe this proposal is a win-win for water quality and for the citizens of Wake County," Lacy Reaves, an attorney for the developers, told commissioners Monday.

Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen says allowing even one property to redevelop is too many.

Falls Lake is the primary source of drinking water for Raleigh and several Wake County towns. Pollution in the lake has led federal officials to declare it an "impaired" waterway, and state environmental regulators have demanded that a cleanup plan be in place by next January.

Allen said allowing the lumber yard to reopen as a shopping center would set a precedent for other property owners to redevelop their lands for uses not approved in the Unified Development Ordinance. Such development would only add to pollution in the lake, he said.

Requiring property owners to go through the rezoning process for proposed redevelopments would be a better way to handle such requests, Allen said.

Raleigh City Councilwoman Nancy McFarlane told commissioners that several counties and municipalities have been negotiating development rules to follow to limit pollution in Falls Lake, and it wouldn't make sense for Wake County to unleash more development in the watershed.

"We're really asking all of these surrounding municipalities and counties to adhere to these rules that impact our drinking water," McFarlane said. "It's really important that we take the lead in watershed protection."

The Watershed Protection Council, a grassroots group that focuses on improving water quality in Falls Lake, also is opposed to the redevelopment plan, saying it would "create open season for the commercialization of the county's water supply watersheds."

"It's going to be the portal to the decimation of Wake County's leadership in water supply (and) watershed protection," Sherry Johnson, of the Watershed Protection Council, told the commissioners.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • blackdog Mar 2, 2010

    I live next to Falls Lake. We don't need a shopping center there.

  • bopeace1999 Mar 2, 2010

    A "win-win" for the developers. Everyone else loses.

  • timothycapwell Mar 2, 2010

    no, they're concerned it will further pollute an already polluted water body that provides all Raleigh's drinking water. Are you not concernted about that?
    Click to view my profile Jeremiah

    No, I'm not concerned. We don't drink the water directly from the lake. It is treated at these things called "water treatment plants" and must meet strict regulations daily.

  • John Q Public Mar 1, 2010

    Don't worry all we need is another storm like Fran to wash the shopping center away.

  • logitech Mar 1, 2010

    This just shows how deep the curruption runs in the local govt.
    I've been trying to work with the county on getting a lot rezoned and was told point blank I didn't have enough money. The truth of the matter is Wake county doesnt want small business they want busines owners with deep pockets.

  • uncrulez Mar 1, 2010

    That's what North Raleigh needs--another shopping center.

  • petrnorth Mar 1, 2010

    This is being done so Jimmy Goldston, the owner of the propsed land (and owner of the famed Fox Pen), can get richer!

  • Awake in Wake Mar 1, 2010

    I think the politicians around here would sell there own mother to make a nickel. In Connecticut, you are not even allowed to use the reservoirs for recreational boating to protect the water quality. After all, this is our drinking water. Why does North Raleigh need another strip mall? They should probably try to fill the empty retail space off Capital Boulevard and Old Wake Forest Road before building new space. It is amazing how the realtors and builders are allowed free access to destroy public resources. We really need some common sense down here.

  • Wake1 Mar 1, 2010

    Come on, let's not rush to protecting our water source - let's give in to the interests of the fat cats who want to develop the property - that's much more important than the welfare of the lowly citizens that drink from Falls LakeI The developers don't drink from it - why should they care??

  • nomorethanthat Mar 1, 2010

    People can knock NY but the water up there never made me sick like Raleigh's has. The Fed report listed pollutants that Raleigh doesn't remove and our mayor and city manager want to spend millions for a new safety center w/o addressing the water quality problem. Our taxes are going the way of NY in the rush for us to have what someone else has.