Durham County

Durham City Council denies rezoning for Publix shopping center

The Durham City Council rejected a rezoning request for a mixed-use shopping center in northern Durham that would have been anchored by the city’s first Publix grocery store.

The rezoning failed after a 6-1 vote at 12:43 a.m. Tuesday.

City Council members Cora Cole-McFadden, Jillian Johnson, Don Moffitt, Steve Schewel, Charlie Reece and Mayor Bill Bell voted against the rezoning. They said they support bringing a Publix to Durham, but not in the proposed location, which is surrounded by suburban neighborhoods.

Councilman Eddie Davis voted in favor of the project.

Halvorsen Development Corp. sought to rezone the property from residential to allow a mixed-use development to be called North River Village.

The plan included up to 90,000 square feet of commercial space on a 15-acre portion of the property. The Publix would have taken up about 45,000 square feet.

Up to 60 single-family houses would have been built on the remaining property.

Rezoning supporters said they welcomed more grocery store choices and retail spots, especially the Publix. Development representatives also contended the proposal would help boost property values and eventually bring 500 jobs to northern Durham.

Opponents were 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.

Many of the elected leaders’ concerns echoed that of the Durham Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission, a city-county advisory board, voted 11-2 in February against recommending the change.

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

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges