Friday, July 19, 2024

Carolina Beach Town Council approves Harris Teeter extension despite years of inactivity

Despite a large resistance of residents wearing "I love Publix" shirts protesting the approval of the extension, the threat of more litigation for the town prompted Town Council to approve it.

The attorney representing Jubilee Carolina asked, and received, a 12-month extension for the conditional use permit for Harris Teeter (Port City Daily/File)
The attorney representing Jubilee Carolina requested, and received, a 12-month extension for the conditional use permit for Harris Teeter. (Port City Daily/File)

CAROLINA BEACH — Good news for Harris Teeter fans in Carolina Beach, the Town Council approved a 12-month extension for the conditional use permit (CUP) it first issued in 2015 and updated in 2017.

Now, the permit is valid until April of 2020.

Will the island ever get its Harris Teeter it has been promised for more than a decade? That still remains to be seen.

There has been much ado over the past year regarding the status of the Harris Teeter after the announcement, purchase, and construction of neighboring property where a Publix is planned.

Ever since the Town Council approved a permit for Publix that did not require them to provide cross-access between the two developments, the developers of Harris Teeter have been filing lawsuits against whoever they believe is culpable.

The big argument from Harris Teeter is that they were promised roaway access to the adjacent property from a previous contract, an agreement known as “interconnectivity.” A contract that had set time limits on it that have since passed without construction beginning — regardless, they believe they still have vested rights to the property.

On Tuesday night the Town Council, without so much as a single question, approved a request to extend the CUP for an additional 12-months — it will be the only extension available.

The attorney representing the Harris Teeter developer, Jubilee Carolina, addressed council saying there was “good cause” to request the extension.

“By its terms, the permit is going to expire on April 1, 2019, but as you’re probably aware this permit has been pretty contentious and is involved in litigation. In fact, today we learned that the case has been set to be heard by the North Carolina Court of Appeals on April 10, the day before the expiration,” Harris Teeter’s attorney said.

He also claimed that “Harris Teeter is committed to the site” — although that’s a statement that Publix has rebuked in their own litigation, claiming Harris Teeter has zero plans to build there, and suggesting Harris Teeter is only tying up the land to prevent competition for a store just a could miles away.

The biggest reason Harris Teeter is requesting interconnectivity is so it can get its delivery trucks into the store, the developer’s attorney said. It is unclear why Harris Teeter cannot just change its plans to accommodate the sale of the neighboring property and connect directly to Lake Park Boulevard.

The attorney for Harris Teeter and its developer also issued what was essentially a threat of future litigation to Town Council, stating that if the council did not extend the permit, it could be ordered by the courts.

“It may be that we’re never able to do this because we cannot get the interconnectivity but that’s not really for this body to decide that’s for the courts … we could go to court, we could file a declaratory judgment action, the precedent is when it’s tied up in litigation you can go and have the permit tolled,” he said.

There was no discussion of the issue by Town Council before members approved the motion 5 – 0. Members JoDan Garza and Steve Shuttleworthwere absent.

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