BY LAUREN HENRY
The Greeneville Regional Planning Commission on Tuesday approved final site plans for a major expansion of the Food City on Asheville Hwy.
The Food City, at 515 Asheville Hwy., will be expanded by approximately 13,173 square-feet, and 77 parking spaces will be added.
The current square footage of the supermarket is 36,639, and with the addition, the Food City on Asheville Highway will be about the same size as the new Food City being readied in the old Walmart building on U.S. 11E, and larger than the Food City on Snapps Ferry Road.
In a separate development, more chicken and biscuits are on their way to Greeneville.
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits will open a franchise next to Zaxby's at 3240 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy.
FOOD CITY EXPANSION
The Food City expansion at the Asheville Highway location will extend on the north side of the existing building and will greatly expand the retail floor space.
The 77 additional parking spaces will expand the parking lot forward toward Asheville Highway.
The Food City Gas-N-Go in the parking lot will also receive two additional dispensers.
"Existing shoppers will not be impaired during the improvements," said Tim Kuykendall, vice president of Appalachia Design Services.
Kuykendall said the expansion will not close the existing supermarket.
Appalachia Design Services prepared civil engineering and site development plans presented to the Greeneville Regional Planning Commission.
Internal planning and layout of the expanded building is yet to be completed.
The Design Group architects will provide the final drawings based upon decisions made by K-VA-T Food Stores, which owns Food City, said Steve Banks, vice president of The Design Group.
The expansion is the size of approximately 50 percent of the current building's sales floor and slightly more than one-third of the total current square footage.
The approval of the final site plan comes with the recommendation that the site plans include curbing and striping to clearly mark the entrance and exit.
Alderman Keith Paxton expressed concern about the middle entrance and exit. It is a rather wide entrance with a pole roughly in the middle and a sign further back also dividing the entrance.
Kuykendall presented the site plan before the commission. He said the sign and lightpole act as natural dividers for traffic.
Commission member Lindy Riley did not agree.
"While we were sitting there observing the site, some vehicle came in on the outbound side, right by the bank and, obviously didn't see the lightpole and the sign as a natural divider. He just ignored them," Riley said.
"If someone had been trying to come out, there would have been a head-on [collision]."
"It's private property; we can't make them [remove the lightpole,]" said Jeff Woods, Greeneville building inspector.
"We can recommend to Food City and Brandon Hull whatever the planning commission would like to see done. We would like to see him do it, but we can't make him do it."
Brandon Hull is the owner of the West Greene Shopping Center, which includes the Food City store.
In an interview with The Greeneville Sun, Woods clarified that the Regional Planning Commission only has the right to demand such an expensive change if it is a major safety hazard, which has not been determined to be the case with the current situation.
However, Woods said there has been discussion with Greeneville Light & Power System previously about removing the pole, as a safety measure.
"This might be a good time to go ahead and move that pole," he said.
Kuykendall said he has passed along the recommendation of the planning commission, and he said he believes that removal of the pole will be added to the expansion plans along with curbing and striping.
"On the right-around, that is where our concern was -- where the lightpole was and with the extension of the Gas-N-Go blocking the entrance coming in and diverting the traffic around," Woods explained.
"There was really no laid-out direction for the traffic to flow. It was just come in Food City and go whichever way you want to," Woods said.
"What about actually curbing to differentiate what's actually Asheville Highway and what's actually parking lot?" Commission member Bob Biddle asked.
"There have been a lot of accidents in that area just because of that reason and particularly this right-hand turn lane. This is an opportunity to clean that up," Biddle added.
The final approval of the site plan included Biddle's recommendation for installing curbing at the entrance to the parking lot to guide traffic there.
The final site plan for the newly-approved Bojangles' restaurant includes an approximately 3,808 square-foot building on 1.48 acres.
Bojangles, a quick-serve restaurant that serves chicken and biscuits with a Cajun flair, hopes to open in March.
Jeff Rigsby, co-founder and president of BOJ of WNC LLC, will make this his 27th franchise location.
BOJ of WNC LLC is the third largest franchisee of Bojangles, with locations across Western North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina, Northern Georgia, and Eastern Tennessee, and toward Nashville.
Sharon S. Thurner, president of Sonoma Commercial Properties, Inc., who is representing Bojangles, said Rigsby is very excited about opening in Greeneville.
She attended Tuesday's Regional Planning Commission meeting to represent the new franchise location.
In other business, Woods proposed that the commission approve Biddle for another three-year term on the Regional Planning Commission. Biddle's current term is complete.
The recommendation will go before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The Greeneville Board of Zoning Appeals met after the commission meeting to approve April's meeting minutes. The minutes were approved without discussion.