Editorial: Harris Teeter Traffic Pattern Will Impact Neighbors

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 10 February 2016 05:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

Residents and business owners should attend the Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning meeting at 6:30PM Thursday night February 11th at Town Hall. The commission will consider a request to modify a conditional use permit (CUP) for a new Harris Teeter store at 1000 North Lake Park Blvd. The former home of Jubilee Park.
The changes are required in order for Harris Teeter to relocate a nearby traffic light to their proposed entrance.
You can view the plan and read about the changes in the report starting on page 1-A in this week's edition.
Originally the plan was to relocate the entrance to align with Bennett Lane. (Where the Island Gazette is located). The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) prefers that location but the developer says it will not meet their needs and they want the entrance to be north of Bennett Lane.
Therefore, NCDOT is requiring them to install medians, turn restrictions for Bennett Lane and even closing one driveway entrance for Pleasure Island Plaza. (See map at bottom of this page).
The only business that will come out on top in this scenario is Harris Teeter. Surrounding businesses that currently have uninterrupted traffic flow in and out of their parking lots will now be restricted. For example, Bennett Lane would be restricted to right turns in and out. No left turns. The same for Bame Ace Hardware, Pleasure Island Plaza, Kings Beachwear, all of the residents and business owners on Bennett Lane, the Wings store and other nearby businesses.
This plan will however allow Harris Teeter to enjoy unrestricted access with their very own intersection, turn lanes and traffic light.
While many people agree welcoming new businesses to our Town is great, not when it is at the expense of other small business owners that have been part of our community for many years. Our elected leaders should not approve a project that will impact the future commercial viability of existing properties and certainly impact the quality of life for our citizens.
Any new development should improve the quality of life in an area. In this case Harris Teeter will effectively give the public free and clear access to their store while eliminating the same for other businesses in that area.
Carolina Beach is no stranger to poorly planned changes to the traffic pattern on Lake Park Blvd. A number of years ago our leaders chose to reduce the number of lanes from four to two with bike lanes on either side. That was within a few city blocks yet at times it caused traffic to back up all the way to neighboring Kure Beach and left people sitting in traffic for a half hour just to travel less than a mile. You may remember that debacle as the "Road Diet" and the Town ultimately had to return the road to four lanes costing taxpayers a couple of hundred thousand dollars to resolve the problem.
This is not exactly the same pattern but is a prime candidate for it's own laundry list of problems for everyone except Harris Teeter.
Harris Teeter will bring hundreds of vehicle trips per day adding to an already congested Lake Park during the summer months when neighboring businesses make most of their annual revenue.
This proposed traffic plan will create bottlenecks for traffic and in turn frustration for residents and the tourists that fuel our tourism based economy.
One of the more glaring issues with this proposal is u-turns. The turning restrictions and medians will force people to turn right and then to turn around in parking lots such as the Scotchman Gas Station or Town Hall. Large delivery trucks will have to travel south to other streets to find an alternate route down residential streets to Dow Road in order to leave the island.
They are proposing this traffic pattern rather than NCDOT's recommendation to relocate the light to Bennett Lane because it would basically inconvenience their development plans and access to the older Federal Point Shopping Center.
They get all the perks and we get all of the pain.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider this proposal at their February 11th meeting. The commission should recommend the Town Council deny the proposal. Council should listen and deny the proposal.
They don't have to oppose the Harris Teeter, just the proposed traffic pattern.
If they threaten not to build, the response should be quick: Someone else will, it's a big piece of vacant commercial property.

Click on image for a larger view...

2016-1-28-NCDOT-Concept.pdf (Plans showing project layout and traffic pattern on Lake Park Blvd.)

2016-1-28-NCDOT-JRG Notes.pdf (Plans showing project layout and traffic pattern on Lake Park Blvd.)

Harris Teeter-TIA-Approval.pdf (Notes and plan from NCDOT)

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