Businesses decry road-widening plan

By John Henderson

0 Comments | Leave a Comment

Owners of businesses in a plaza at the intersection of Hunter Hill and Country Club roads are concerned that a state road widening project could force them to close.

They have rejected an offer by a state transportation agency to buy some of the plaza’s property for the project.

They said the N.C. Department of Transportation has offered $400,000 to buy up about half of the parking spaces at Country Club Square for intersection improvements associated with the pending Hunter Hill Road widening project.

That’s a far cry from what they should be paid, the business owners said, because eliminating those parking spaces essentially would shut down the plaza’s 15 businesses.

David Smith, who is the president of David Smith Group development company that has an office in the plaza, said the parking spaces the state is offering to buy are needed to comply with city regulations.

Smith said if the state has to condemn the property, it should purchase the entire building for its appraised value of $1.6 million. The building is owned by 11 individuals who own 20 units in the building. They have banded together to form Country Club Square Association, Inc.

“We realize the current situation of our state’s economy and budget,” Smith writes in a letter to the DOT. “However, that should not be an excuse or reason to take a course that is unfair to the very citizens our state is supposed to protect.”

He said he supports the intersection improvements, noting that it is a dangerous intersection. He said he even got into an accident trying to pull out of the plaza.

Parking is already at a premium for the plaza even with all of the spaces, Smith said.

Smith said Monday that the state’s appraiser aptly summed up the impact on businesses by saying the lack of space to replace the required parking spaces creates an “incurable, functional, obsolescence” for the property.

“You can’t fix it,” he said.

Steve Grimes, a right of way agent for the DOT, said they can’t comment about negotiations for specific right of way parcels, especially when negotiations are under way.

Barbara Hyde, who has owned European Skin Care salon in the plaza for 25 years, said she is concerned not only about losing her long-time business, but the impact it could have on her seven employees.

She said she has looked at other locations throughout town, but nothing works for her based on parking requirements.

“I feel I need to help the people working with me,” she said. “I just can’t put them out.”

Hyde said if the state has to buy out the property, it is only fair that it purchase the entire corner and make the business owners whole.

“I think we should be compensated for loss of work and time, too,” she said.

John Knott, the owner of a State Farm insurance office in the plaza since 1985, said it would be difficult to find a new location that will work.

“Your customer base is used to this (office),” he said.

He also said State Farm requires that agents’ offices are spaced apart, and there are other offices on Zebulon Road, Sunset Avenue and Winstead Avenue.

Jerry Page, project manager for DOT’s District 4 that includes Nash County, said the planned intersection work was based on traffic studies of what would be needed to handle two pending road widening projects on Hunter Hill and Country Club roads.

“What we have here is a confluence of two projects,” he said. “All of the (planned) turn lanes (at the intersection) are driven by anticipated traffic. We look at what is anticipated to be out there in the future, and we design to the future.”

Page said the improvements will make the intersection safer.

“All four of the approaches will have a single left turn lane,” he said. “Three of the four approaches will have two through lanes.”