New Food Lion store approved in China Grove

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016

CHINA GROVE — By a unanimous count, Town Council on Tuesday voted to approve a permit for a new Food Lion store on U.S. 29.

The store is proposed at the North end of China Grove, where U.S. 29 meets North Main Street. It would measure just over 35,000 square feet and be a standalone building instead of a shopping center. Once complete, it would be the third Food Lion store within the town limits.

Town Council members’ most significant concern was how the store might affect traffic. Matt Lowder, an engineer working on the Food Lion project, said the store’s main entrance would be at a stoplight. For safety reasons, the secondary entrance wouldn’t allow left turns into the store’s parking lot.

An exact timeline for construction remains uncertain. U.S. 29 at the store’s location is expected to see a realignment as a result of Interstate 85 widening, which is scheduled to start later this year. The Food Lion store’s engineer said the Department of Transportation is aware of the project. Certain aspects of the store’s parking lot and driveways will have to wait until final plans are ready for the I-85 widening.

It’s also unclear how the new store might affect the other Food Lion locations in China Grove. It’s possible China Grove’s other existing Food Lion stores would remain open. When the company in March announced it would remodel 142 stores in the Charlotte region, China Grove’s existing Food Lions were included on the list.

When discussing traffic associated with the store, Town Planner Franklin Gover said U.S. 29 at the north end of China Grove remains significantly under capacity. Citing N.C. Department of Transportation figures, Gover said U.S. 29’s capacity is 40,000 average daily trips. The road currently sees about 10,000 average daily trips.

Other questions addressed by the China Grove Town Council about the Food Lion store mostly focused on its appearance. The board approved additional screening that will be located adjacent to a loading dock. The store’s developers were asked to place additional greenery in the parking lot. Gover also suggested adding greenery at the rear of the property, which will be next to railroad tracks.

Once discussion about the Food Lion store ended, town council members approved a conditional use permit for the store relatively quickly. The store requires a conditional use permit because its size exceeds 30,000 square feet.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.