Carolina Beach Harris Teeter public hearing postponed

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Aerial photo of Lake Park Boulevard in Carolina Beach in front of proposed Harris Teeter project with the NCDOT's recommendations for medians.
Aerial photo of Lake Park Boulevard in Carolina Beach in front of proposed Harris Teeter project with the NCDOT’s recommendations for medians.

A public hearing on changes to the Carolina Beach Harris Teeter project has been postponed.

Originally scheduled to be held during the town council meeting on Tuesday, March 8, it has now been pushed back another month.

“The [hearing] was tabled until the April 12, 2016 town council meeting,” Asst. Town Manager and Planning Director Ed Parvin said. “The applicant wanted that time to obtain additional information from the DOT and have time to communicate any new information out to the community prior to being heard by town council.”

Plans for the development to be built at 1000 and 1010 N. Lake Park Blvd. were approved last summer by both the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission and town council. However, the state’s Department of Transportation is requiring several traffic changes after having reviewed the developer’s plans. These modifications to the site plan require approval from the town, who issued the conditional use permit to the developers.

A public hearing was held at last month’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, and residents filled town hall’s council chambers to hear about and speak on the changes. While everyone who spoke, including commissioners, said they are still on board with the project as a whole, they are pushing back against the state’s requested major traffic changes and seeking more information from the DOT, developers and everyone else involved.

The biggest concern for both commissioners and residents is the concrete median the DOT wants to install on Lake Park Boulevard in front of the Harris Teeter, which they fear will block off access to several businesses and smaller streets, particularly on the west side of the boulevard.

At that meeting, a representative for the DOT said that in addition to helping control the flow of traffic, their studies have shown that medians help reduce accidents by 30 to 40 percent.

“A lot has been said about how medians improve safety, but I feel like that’s been proven wrong in Carolina Beach because we’re a special place,” resident Jasmine McKee said during that public hearing, noting that she’s seen several traffic accidents near the medians located in front of the Food Lion development near Snow’s Cut bridge.

There were also concerns about big trucks being able to deliver inventory to businesses. According to the town’s senior planner Jeremy Hardison, 44 businesses could be affected by the installation of the medians, and noted that the DOT has been putting medians across the state.

“Medians are the way of the future,” Hardison said. “That’s the way the DOT is moving to.”

“You can’t have a business if you don’t have product,” said Planning and Zoning Commissioner Tammy Hanson. “I don’t know see how DOT can sleep at night knowing they put people out of business because they insisted on medians.”

The commission eventually denied the applicant’s request to make the modifications to their conditional use permit, but town council will have the final say.

All regularly scheduled council meetings are held in Carolina Beach Town Hall Council Chambers and begin at 6:30 p.m. Public hearings do not begin until 7 p.m. or after. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.