Councilman Ron Brinson – December 26, 2016

Best Wishes To All of Our City’s Residents For An Enjoyable Christmas Season

The Harris TEETER  gas Station Proposal   poses the most controversial zoning issue our community has faced in the last 10 years. The “Overlay” zoning standards and values our neighborhoods have relied upon exclude gas stations along the very stretch of Dorchester Road Harris Teeter now occupies as part of the thriving Corner at  Wescott shopping center.  We can be grateful for the neighborhood leaders who worked so hard so many years ago to formulate and enact these zoning guidelines and rules.  

The company’s application for zoning document amendments needed to permit a gas station operation will be heard by our city’s Planning Commission at 6 p.m., Monday, January 9, in the Buist Room, third floor of City Hall.  If you are supportive of such a gas station or opposed, your views are important in this process. Attend this meeting if you can, and plan also to attend the public hearing before City Council February 9 at 7 p.m.

I remain opposed to this proposal; so does my District 9 colleague Councilman Kenny Skipper. The “Overlay” standards and restrictions are so important to neighborhoods impacted by growth and development.  Permitting a gas station at the Corner at Wescott could set a precedent of equity claims by other developers wanting their properties zoned for fuel stations. Also, I believe the proposed footprint of the proposed Harris Teeter facility is too small and the operation would create even more of a crowded feeling in the parking area.

At a meeting last week with Harris Teeter representatives, including the company’s lawyer, Mr. Skipper and I reiterated our summary positions.  Harris Teeter believes it has broad and growing support for its proposal. We’ll see.

This likely will be a spirited debate – and let us hope a healthy one that brings focus to the values and standards which define our community. And let us remember that Harris Teeter is a valued “good neighbor” that operates an upscale retail complex and contributes to our community in so many large and small ways.  You know my position and concerns and most of you have heard this issue debated in your HOA forums. In fairness to Harris Teeter, I offered to relay its summary position via this newsletter. This follows and I would welcome your comments and counsel.  (This newsletter with drawings is posted  at www.ronbrinson.com.)

 

Wescott Plantation Shopping Center:

A Letter from Harris Teeter

Harris Teeter is looking to expand our extensive offerings by adding a fuel station on the last remaining undeveloped parcel of the Wescott Plantation Shopping Center. In doing so, Harris Teeter hopes to create a commercial center which reflects market trends and is competitive for years to come, as well as add an additional level of convenience for community members. Wescott, however, falls within the City of North Charleston and is a Planned Development (PDD). As it currently stands, there is a disagreement about whether the PDD and Dorchester Overlay zoning ordinances allow a grocery retailer to sell fuel.  To avoid any uncertainty, Harris Teeter and our landlord believe it is best to amend the PDD zoning ordinance. By carefully crafting this amendment, Harris Teeter would be able to implement our first rate business model, while maintaining the sanctity of the overlay district. Below is the amended language we are proposing:

“The operator of a grocery store of at least 50,000 square feet may, as a permitted use, operate a gas station within the boundaries of the PDD.”

To elaborate on the project, we have included renderings of the proposed fuel center below. Harris Teeter is proposing a fuel station with 10 gas dispensers. This number of fueling positions is similar to other fuel stations in North Charleston. Our model for operating fuel stations is similar to other neighborhood grocery chains such as: Lowes Foods, Walmart Neighborhood Market and Kroger. The proposed HT fuel station does not include a convenience store, resulting in a lower trip generation than most convenience stores/fuel stations. We also offer savings by lowering the price of fuel for our loyal shoppers. Therefore, our program differs from other gas stations with convenience stores like Kangaroo, Shell or Spinx.

It is Harris Teeter’s priority to not only serve our shoppers with world class customer service, but also act as a responsible corporate neighbor to our local community members. We look forward to continuing our work with the City of North Charleston to arrive at a constructive solution which supports the long-term health of this shopping center and humbly respects the concerns of nearby residents.

Sincerely,

Jacob Phares

Conceptual Renderings

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