Durham County

Publix shopping center rezoning to go before Durham City Council in June

A sign opposing a rezoning that would allow a Publix shopping center on the corner on Latta and Guess roads in this 2017 file photo. Some northern Durham residents are opposed to the 30-acre mixed-use development that would include housing and a Publix grocery store. Others are ready for the high-end grocery story to open in that part of the city.
A sign opposing a rezoning that would allow a Publix shopping center on the corner on Latta and Guess roads in this 2017 file photo. Some northern Durham residents are opposed to the 30-acre mixed-use development that would include housing and a Publix grocery store. Others are ready for the high-end grocery story to open in that part of the city. vbridges@newsobserver.com

The debate over a rezoning that would allow a mixed-use development that includes a Publix grocery store is set to continue, and possibly conclude, before the Durham City Council on June 5.

The council’s June 5 meeting will include a public hearing on a request to rezone 30 acres on the southeastern corner of Guess and Latta roads. After the public hearing, the council could vote on the request.

Halvorsen Development Corp. is asking to rezone the property from residential to allow a mixed-use development dubbed North River Village. The plan includes up to 90,000 square feet of commercial space on a 15-acre portion of the property. The Publix would take up about 45,000 square feet. Up to 60 single-family houses would be built on the remaining property.

Initially the hearing was set for April 17. Patrick Byker, an attorney for the project’s developer, requested a later meeting date because the applicant wasn’t available April 17, wrote senior planner Jacob Wiggins in an email to City Council member Charlie Reece.

City officials explored placing the item on the May 15 agenda, but City Manager Tom Bonfield already planned to present the budget that night and asked it not be placed on that agenda, Bonfield said.

Rezoning supporters say they welcome more grocery store choices and retail spots, especially the high-end grocery store Publix.

Opponents are concerned about the shopping center upending their quality of life. The property is almost surrounded by neighborhoods and is next to the year-round Easley Elementary School.

The Durham Planning Commission, a city-county advisory board, voted 11-2 in February against recommending the change after a more than two-hour public hearing and an hour-long discussion among the Planning Commission.

The commissioners said the plan’s residential and commercial components are not well integrated. They also expressed concern about commercial sprawl creeping into the suburban area.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

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