WAKE FOREST — After several contentious hearings, the town’s planning board last week voted in favor of a plan for a new fire station west of Capital Boulevard.
By a vote of 4-2, the board recommended approval of a special use permit that would allow the Wake Forest Fire Department to build a fire station near the intersection of Jenkins Road and Fullard Drive.
The plan now goes to the Board of Commissioners, which could consider it as soon as its Dec. 17 meeting. The commissioners voted unanimously in May to approve a land annexation for the station.
The fire department still has several hurdles to clear after the commissioners’ vote, including raising money to build the $2 million station. The entire process, including construction, could take several years, said Fire Chief Ron Early.
“If it were up to me, I’d build it today,” he said after the vote.
Early has said the new station, which would serve both town and Wake County residents, is needed to improve the department’s response times in the northwest part of its service area. Response times there can exceed seven minutes, while the department wants to respond within four to six minutes.
A small group of neighbors object strongly to the proposed fire station, however, arguing that it would bring too much noise to the area and drive down property values.
During the hearings, the fire department presented a report from a real estate appraiser that found of the properties that adjoin or abut the proposed station location, only one potentially would be affected negatively by the station, and not to a significant degree.
Early also repeatedly assured the neighbors that the firefighters would use discretion when it comes to siren volume and that the sound would not be directed out to the entire neighborhood.
The fire department expects to run about 500 calls from the station each year.
Planning Board members Bill Fisher and Shirley Sulick voted against the plan because they thought an alternative site could be found.
“Why would we upset so many people when we don’t have to?” Fisher asked during the board’s brief discussion of the plan.
But some nearby residents are happy a new fire station is coming to their area.
Robert Sito, who lives a few miles north of the proposed site, said his insurance rates recently increased because of his distance from a fire station. He’s hopeful that the Jenkins Road station would bring the rate down in the future.
“Not only will price go down, but the fire department will be able to get to my house faster,” he said.