CARY, NC - A neighborhood fight is on the verge of failure as town officials await the final revised proposal for a gas station and convenience store near Hortons Creek Elementary School.
The residents, whose petition opposing the development attracted about 1,700 signatures, now hope to meet with the developer and persuade him to alter some of his plans to alleviate their concerns.
"Can we at least restrict lighting; can we not have a 24-hour operation," neighbor Ashwani Kaul asked. "Let's not have that much effect on the neighbors or surroundings if there is going to be a gas station here. Can there be four pumps instead of twelve? How are you going to manage traffic? Emissions?"
RELATED: Take a look at the gas station site layout (.pdf)
Officially called the Amberly-C Development, the plans were submitted last year by Raleigh-based Eagle Enterprises, and documents show the proposal is for a six-pump gas station, convenience store, and a potential drive-thru restaurant on the corner of O'Kelly Chapel Road and Stonecroft Lane.
Because that parcel was already zoned commercially, Eagle Enterprises did not have to appear in a quasi-judicial setting before the Planning and Zoning Committee of the Town Council.
According to Town officials, all of the surrounding area - including the site of Hortons Creek Elementary - had been zoned commercially since 2002 to secure a bigger shopping center. Instead, the subsequent economic recession altered plans and the area was rezoned in 2015; the location of the school was rezoned into offices and some surrounding area was rezoned into residential.
RELATED: Approved zoning uses per 2002 amendment (.pdf)
City planners, however, kept a small sliver of land zoned commercial and available.
"We look to have services close to where people live so people don't have to travel far to get what they need in their day to day life," Meredith Gruber, an Urban Planner with the Town of Cary, explained to ABC11. "We often like to see businesses that residents can walk to because it makes life better to save time. We hope places are designed so people can meet their needs in an easy fashion."
As to what can be done to alleviate residents' concerns, Gruber said there are what she calls "strict" landscaping requirements that will include tall trees, shrubs and a buffer zone of at least 30 feet.
"It's understandable to want a restaurant more than a gas station near a school, but the zoning allows for this and it's been that way for quite a while," Gruber added.
The ABC11 I-Team did reach out to Eagle Enterprises but our calls and emails were not returned. Gruber said after the proposal receives formal approval, the developer can apply for building permits and that process usually takes about a month.