Harris Teeter plans move forward in Carolina Beach

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The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission has approved an application for a conditional use permit submitted by representatives of Harris Teeter that would bring the grocery store chain to the island.

The plan calls for a store up that could be up to 58,768 square feet, 266 parking spaces and three loading zones that would occupy the 7.1 acre vacant lot at 1000 N. Lake Park Blvd. Bike racks and a 5-foot sidewalk from the ABC store to Brew Thru would also be built.

Unlike most other Harris Teeter stores, this one, which would include a pharmacy with a drive-thru window, a cafe and an on-site gas station, would be a stand-alone building rather than part of a strip mall.

“I think this will be a significant improvement for the area,” said Michael Lee, a Wilmington attorney representing the applicant.

While all the commissioners and public commenters agreed the plan would be beneficial to the area, there were concerns regarding traffic, interconnectivity to adjacent properties, landscaping and water runoff.

“We’re going to add to this area of already extreme usage,” said Randy Simon, a representative of Mona Black Marina, which is across the street from the back of the proposed development site. “We have to address these issues early in the process.”

As part of the plan, a stoplight will be relocated, and though four entrance and exit points will be built along Lake Park Boulevard, none will be open on the southside of the property.

“I think it’s a great project, but I’m still concerned about interconnectivity,” said Commissioner Keith Bloemendaal.

According to the engineer, Alan Maness of BBM Associates in Raleigh, drainage easement and other utilities prevent access roads from being built on that part of the site. The commission, however, suggested that other solutions be considered.

Due to the fact that the property lies in a floodzone, Maness said the store would be elevated an extra 4 feet to prevent water rushing into the store and a retention pond would be built in the back to capture and treat storm water runoff. He also noted that the state of North Carolina requires that wetland plants be placed around retention ponds.

The commissioners unanimously agreed to approve the application with the addition of rear landscaping that would be more aesthetically pleasing.

“This isn’t just the back of a grocery store, this is the front of a neighborhood,” said Commissioner Tammy Hanson.

The plan will next be presented to the Carolina Beach Town Council at its monthly meeting in August.

Hannah Leyva is a news reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hannah.l@portcitydaily.com.