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Development: Fast-food restaurants boost traffic count for new project

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Two fast-food restaurants will account for nearly half the traffic at a new commercial development proposed for Highway 17 at Petigru Drive. A traffic study for Pavilion Square will be reviewed by the Georgetown County Planning Commission before the project receives final approval from County Council.

The commission unanimously recommended approval last week. The only public comment came from Tom Stickler, a Hagley resident, who urged the commission to pay attention to the traffic.

Pavilion Square will have 35,250 square feet of commercial space, including 6,000 for fast-food and 4,000 for “high-turnover” restaurants. There will be 19,750 square feet of office space and 5,500 square feet of retail space. Jody Tamsberg, the principal in the project, asked the county to rezone 4.8 acres as a “flexible design district,” which allows multiple uses on the property. It runs between Highway 17 and Petigru Drive next to the existing Pawleys Wine and Spirits store.

The project will add 3,295 daily trips to the 24,200 vehicles a day that use Highway 17, according to the study prepared for the developer by Stantec. It will draw nearly 2,400 passing vehicles and there will also be traffic between the buildings. Total traffic is estimated at 6,264 trips, almost 3,000 for the fast-food restaurants.

A traffic signal was installed at the intersection this year to manage traffic from the Publix supermarket that is part of the redevelopment of Pawleys Island Plaza. Traffic from the plaza was also factored into the Stantec estimate of Pavilion Square traffic. The study said the only impact on traffic flow will be southbound on Highway 17 at the Pavilion Square entrance, where it will be just one step away from “bumper-to-bumper” during peak morning and afternoon traffic.

“Traffic control is going to be a major problem,” Stickler told the commission. “I hope you really drill down into the numbers.”

According to Stantec, its estimate of poor service may be overstated because of the method it used to reach that estimate. It doesn’t recommend any changes at the intersection, such as restricting turns across the paved median for northbound traffic.

“Our experts and DOT feel comfortable with the design,” said David Gantt, the engineer for the project. He is the county’s capital projects manager in addition to a principal in G3 Engineering.

The Pavilion Square design was created by SGA Architecture, whose principal is County Council Member Steve Goggans. Goggans said he will recuse himself from the issue. He didn’t attend the Planning Commission meeting, but he did submit a letter with the rezoning request saying that the “flexible design district” zoning will have less impact than if the property were divided into lots for each business.

Elizabeth Krauss, who was elected to chair the commission after Brian Henry’s term expired, said her only concern was whether the flexibility would extend to letter the developer add space in the future. Boyd Johnson, the county planning director, said the space would be fixed, but the owner could ask to reallocate it between uses. “That’s not specifically spelled out,” Krauss said.

The commission also approved a change to the Summergate commercial “planned development” that will reallocate space for future uses. “I can’t tell you a specific tenant or specific use at this point,” said Gantt, who represented the owner. “We’re trying to provide flexibility.”

Moe’s BBQ will add 1,500 square feet to its current 2,500. Its parcel is approved for 8,000 square feet, so 4,000 will be shifted to other parcels. The commercial development was approved for 39,500 square feet, but scaled that back to 29,400. The current proposal would increase the overall space to 31,100 square feet.

Commission member Lee Shoulette proposed holding the developer to the current space, but Freddie Hill said he gave up 10,000 square feet and only wanted to reclaim 1,700. The vote to recommend the change to County Council was unanimous.

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