Winston-Salem Wells Fargo leaders object to rezoning request to add gas station near data center

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Planning board members for Forsyth County and the City of Winston-Salem have delayed plans to vote on a rezoning request by developers hoping to add a grocery store, convenience store and other retail businesses to the corner of Silas Creek Parkway and Fairlawn Drive.

The biggest objection is by local leaders of Wells Fargo Bank who are concerned about putting fuel tanks for a gas station being too close to their own fuel tanks needed for a data center near the corner.

“When I spoke to the previous owner I was told this would be an office development,” Laura Adams told the planning commission Thursday. “I was told there would not be gas stations or retail.”

Adams said the potential for an accidental explosion or a targeted one is too great to allow the rezoning to move forward without strong objections.

Adams said the data center is one of only three operated by the bank across the nation. She said it’s the record keeper for mortgage information, checking accounts and countless other financial documents for tens of millions of Americans.

“If we lost this data center we impact one in three Americans,” said Adams. “You can imagine the devastation.”

Doug Stimmel, a spokesman for the development, said after nearly 30 years of trying to sell the land as office space the owner decided trying to rezone the area and sell to retailers was the best solution.

“Its retail so we understand that use is a little more intensive than office but it's significantly less than the square footage and the height that's already approved on that site [for office use,]” Stimmel told the planning board.

Neighbors though want the city to honor the master plan that envisioned the Sunnynoll area as office space only. They’re hoping issues with Wells Fargo could help convince the planning board that the area isn’t right for retail development.

It was determined by planning commission leaders that the notice about rezoning the adjacent land was not mailed directly to employees at the facility but to a corporate address for Wells Fargo instead.

The two sides are set to work on the issue with the expectation that the rezoning request will be back before the planning board in two weeks.

If approved, the Winston-Salem City Council still has the final say on rezoning.