Sam’s Club could come to Wake Forest on Capital Blvd.

sbarr@newsobserver.comJuly 3, 2014 

— A Sam’s Club could be the latest addition to a restaurant-and-retail strip along Capital Boulevard just north of its intersection with South Main Street.

The town’s planning board last week voted unanimously to recommend approval of a permit for the members-only, bulk retailer in the Shoppes at Caveness.

The 139,000 square-foot store, as well as a six-pump gas station for members, would be located at the corner of Capital and Caveness Farms Avenue behind Texas Roadhouse and Red Robin.

The permit application now goes to the Board of Commissioners for their consideration, with a vote expected at the July 15 meeting.

As part of any final approval, the developers would be required to pay for a number of improvements to mitigate additional traffic, including two new stoplights on Capital Boulevard and additional lanes on the road.

The town originally approved plans for 260,000 square feet of commercial space on the site in 2004, with 148,000 of the retail space on the portion of the land slated for the Sam’s Club.

The plan under consideration by the board is an amendment to that original approved plan.

The planned traffic improvements are based on the full build-out of the site, not just the addition of the Sam’s Club, said Rynal Stephenson, a traffic engineer with Ramey Kemp Associates.

“The improvements will more than mitigate the additional traffic,” he said.

Sam’s Club is a division of Wal-Mart Stores. The new store would be located just a short distance from the nearest Wal-Mart, with the two locations connected by a small road running parallel to Capital.

Stoplights are planned for the intersection of Caveness Farms and Capital and several hundred feet south of that, where traffic flows into the shopping center.

Andrew Moriarty, an engineer on the project, said that if all of the subsequent approvals go through, he expects the store would be completed sometime in 2015.

David Bissette, a small business owner in Wake Forest who once ran for mayor, urged officials to oppose the plan during a public hearing before the vote. He said the store is not in keeping with the small town-character officials try to promote and would cause traffic problems.

“I’m not saying not now, I’m saying not here,” he said.

Because the proceeding was what’s known as a “quasi-judicial” hearing, officials can’t consider testimony from non-experts on questions such as traffic or property values. The boards must vote based on whether a plan meets a strict list of criteria known as “findings of fact.”

Mayor Vivian Jones urged residents to keep those rules in mind, as well as to refrain from prohibited discussions with officials before the vote.

Barr: 919-836-4952; Twitter: @barrmsarah

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