In its first controversial decision of the year, Raleigh’s city council gave the would-be developer of a Publix grocery store at the intersection of Dunn and Falls of Neuse Roads another 60 days to make changes to the plan before voting to rezone the property.

The proposal has been before the Raleigh Planning Commission for more than a year. In a 6-2 vote, Council members allowed the attorney for the developer, Mack Paul, time to collect results of a traffic impact study, to be presented to the Planning Commission before the commission makes a recommendation on the proposal to Council.

Councilmember Russ Stephenson voted to deny the extension.

“People I have spoken to about this case say there is little or no chance the applicant will reduce the scale of this project before it gets to Council, and I think that is still the case from what I have heard today,” he said. “Dragging this out is a disservice to everyone who is involved.”

Councilmember Wayne Maiorano joined Stephenson in dissenting.

“We have spent a tremendous amount of energy and resources in this case alone to get to this point,” he said. “The rules are not rigid, we must take things on a case by case basis. This is one of those circumstances.”

Councilmember Bonner Gaylord said he had a hard time turning away the Planning Commission’s request to allow the developer the extension.

“Sometimes we have to go down a path that’s less desirable in order to preserve the institution and the quality of the response we get from our Planning Commission, to give them the time they need to do the job as they see fit ,” Gaylord said.

Steven Schuster, the chairman of the Planning Commission said the commission “would always prefer to make a recommendation” to Council.

This is the third extension the Charlotte-based developer Morgan Property Group has been permitted for this rezoning case.

North Raleigh residents, thousands of whom have signed a petition opposing the rezoning proposal, are likely to be unhappy with the Council’s decision.

There are already four grocery stores located within a two-mile radius of the proposed Publix site, as well as a failed Kroger. A new proposal for a Lowe’s store in Raven’s Ridge will go before the City soon.