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Planning Board to review permit for bulk discount store off Caveness Farms Avenue Tuesday.
By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — Talk with the traffic engineer who studied the Sam’s Club planned for 13 acres between Walmart and Caveness Farms Apartments and you’ll realize two things:
1. Synchronized traffic lights are planned for Capital Boulevard at the intersections with Caveness Farms Avenue and the entrance road to Shoppes at Caveness Farms; and
2. The initial development was approved years ago as a major shopping center with expected heavy traffic and Sam’s Club is a modification of that plan, so officials may find it difficult to deny the permit for traffic reasons.
The special-use permit request goes before the Wake Forest Planning Board on Tuesday.
“The traffic study was reviewed and approved by N.C. DOT as well as a council of agencies that review U.S. 1,” Rynal Stephenson, traffic engineer with Ramey Kemp Associates said about the state Department of Transportation. “Access has all been worked out and agreed to and approved.”
Extra lanes recommended
The traffic impact analysis, begun in 2008 and updated this year, recommends major improvements to Capital Boulevard.
A third lane would be added in both directions between Dr. Calvin Jones Highway and South Main Street.
At Caveness Farms Avenue, a second southbound left turn lane would be added and a traffic signal. All other traffic movements at the intersection would remain the same, but an additional vehicle lane would be added to Caveness Farms Avenue to accommodate the two incoming turn lanes.
In addition to the signal at the entrance road, a barrier would be added to prevent left turns off of Capital’s southbound lane, while allowing left turns out of the development.
The two signals would be synchronized, minimizing red lights on Capital.
Though the Sam’s Club will add a significant amount of vehicles per day, the traffic signals may make it easier to navigate than it is now, Stephenson speculated.
“I actually live not too far from there. I drive that particular movement quite a bit,” he said. “There’s a lot of traffic there today. I think the signal will probably make the folks making turn there today feel a little safer.”
Other traffic improvements have already been made as part of the master plan, which includes the outparcels (Chili’s, Red Robin, etc.) and the new apartments along the Ligon Mill Road extension. The connection of Caveness Farms Avenue to Ligon Mill Road was one of those planned improvements.
The initial traffic study was extensive due to DOT plans to eventually turn U.S. 1 into a freeway, Stephenson said.
Original plan showed hotel
The original plan was approved almost a decade ago. At the time, a 253,000-square-foot shopping center was expected to double the footprint of the proposed Sam’s Club. Among the outparcels, the developer had also called for a 125-room hotel.
Due to delays and the recession, some things, such as the hotel, haven’t come to pass, and the bulk of the shopping center was never developed.
The modified plan calls for a 139,000-square-foot Sam’s Club alone.
Sam’s Club is a membership-only retail warehouse in which food, clothing, toys and other goods are placed on pallets and bins around the store, usually stacked in bulk. The architectural drawing also calls for a 51-foot gasoline canopy. Some Sam’s Clubs have fuel pumps for use by members.
The property is owned by Weingarten Investments Inc., and is zoned highway business, so the store is a permitted use. But a building that size automatically generates a special-use permit public hearing, which takes place Tuesday at town hall.
The other public hearing the planning board will hold is for a 4-acre add-on to the Bowling Green subdivision at Wait Avenue and Bowling Forest Drive. Eighteen single-family lots would make up Phase 4 of the subdivision.