Other Affiliation: Wake County Planning Department, Wake County, NC
Visual experiences along major thoroughfares create some of the first, strongest and most lasting impressions of a community. Residents and visitors form opinions about the quality of life of an area based on what they see from the roadway. A positive image may affect people's choices about where to work, live, locate businesses, retire, or visit. Therefore, the quality of roadside development is a key factor in determining not only people's perception of an area, but ultimately, the economic well-being of a community. In December 1989, the Wake County Board of Commissioners expressed concern about strip development along major thoroughfares throughout the county. The board asked the planning staff to explore ways to encourage appropriate development along various types of thoroughfares, to maintain the carrying capacity of roadways and the visual quality of their surrounding landscape, and to accommodate the use of public transit. The board placed special emphasis on the issue of eliminating the county's Highway District zoning classification, which allows a very broad range of land uses. In response to the board's concerns, the Wake County Planning Department began a pilot study of the NC 55 and US 64 West highway corridors in western Wake County. These rural, two-lane highways were chosen in anticipation of increased development pressure due to the widening of US 64 West and the proposed alignment of the Northern Wake Expressway (west of the US 64- NC 55 intersection).