In Granite Quarry, SECU site plan approved over objections
By Mark Wineka
GRANITE QUARRY — While one person said he didn’t know “how in the world the people of Timber Run will survive,” the Granite Quarry Planning Board approved a site plan Monday for a new State Employees’ Credit Union branch off U.S. 52 (North Salisbury Avenue).
The Planning Board voted 5-1 for the site plan, which calls for a single-story, 8,500-square-foot financial institution on a 2.66-acre tract.
The site will include 72 parking spaces and, as drawn by Civil Design Concepts of Asheville, will have an entrance-only driveway off U.S. 52, an exit-only driveway onto U.S. 52, a rear entrance and exit off a new section of Granite Street and a right-turn-only entrance onto the new Granite Street portion from U.S. 52.
The new SECU will be located in an area north (toward Salisbury) of the existing Granite Lane and not quite opposite the entrance to the Timber Run subdivision.
Jesse Gardner of Civil Design Concepts said U.S. 52 will be re-striped so it allows a dedicated left-turn lane from the direction of Salisbury into the site. He added it will be a two-way left-turn lane, meaning residents turning left into Timber Run also would be using it.
Town planner Kassie Watts of Benchmark said a technical review committee had looked at the site plan; public hearing notices had been posted on the site, mailed to adjacent property owners and published in the newspaper; and the Planning Board was following the next step Monday by having the public hearing.
In recommending approval of site plan approval, Watts stated in a report the site plan submitted complies with the intent, standards and design requirements of the town’s unified development ordinance.
“It meets the standard,” she reiterated Monday.
Ed Shell, who lives in Countryside and actively participated during previous discussions about zoning for this area, said he was surprised Monday’s meeting was a public hearing. He described “a great deal of confusion” over when the actual public hearing would be held and said most people did not know about it.
Shell sent emails to all residents in Timber Run and Countryside Sunday after he learned of Monday’s scheduled hearing.
Shell questioned the access points the site plan called for off U.S. 52. He said he had it in writing from the N.C. Department of Transportation, from the earlier disputes about the property’s zoning, saying direct access off U.S. 52 would be unsafe.
The designated left-turn lane to which Gardner referred Monday might address that, Shell said.
But Shell warned that the concentration of access points off U.S. 52 — he listed four — would be “jamming up” traffic in front of the entrance to Timber Run.
“We were assured there wouldn’t be these new access points onto 52,” Shell said. “… I don’t know how in the world the people of Timber Run will survive.”
He said the site plan before the Planning Board was all new, “under the table” and would “impact our daily lives a lot.”
“This is not right,” Shell said.
Gardner told the board his drawings have always shown access for the site off U.S. 52, and he said he has been involved with the project for about a year.
“But that has not been shared with us,” Shell said.
Planning Board member Joy Fisher said, “I think we’re going backward instead of forward” with the site plan in question.
“It’s not the plan we saw in the fall,” she added. “These additional cuts were never on what we saw.”
Fisher also had questions about the public notice procedure for the public hearing. She’s on the Planning Board and was not aware there would be the public hearing at Monday’s meeting, Fisher said.
In addition, Fisher expressed an overall concern about traffic safety in this particular area, where cars coming out of Granite Quarry toward Salisbury immediately tend to speed up as soon as they get past Timber Run.
If a car is turning into the SECU from U.S. 52, “the second and third cars aren’t paying attention to what’s going on,” Fisher said. She questioned whether the DOT had given approval for these particular driveway cuts.
In the end, Planning Board members Greg Lowe, the Rev. David Trexler, Mary Grabowski, Jerry Austin and Buddy Poplin voted for the site plan, and Fisher voted against it.
“My final comment would be, ‘Unbelievable,'” Shell told a reporter after the vote.
The Planning Board also approved a site plan for a 150,000-square-foot speculative building proposed by Easter Creek Partners in the new industrial park at 101 Chamandy Drive. The 35.9-acre tract off Heilig Road represents a partnership between Granite Quarry and Rowan County.
The site will include 134 parking spaces and 15 loading spaces. Brian Lucas, representing Easter Creek Partners, said he expected grading to start in May and construction in August.
“We hope to ready for a tenant by the end of this year,” Lucas said.
Part of Easter Creek passes through the overall industrial park site.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.
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