072017 Planning: Study claims little impact from grocery traffic
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Planning: Study claims little impact from grocery traffic


By
Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A new grocery store on Highway 17 in Pawleys Island won’t add to traffic problems, according a study prepared by the developer for Georgetown County.

Lidl, a German chain that began opening stores in the U.S. this summer, plans to open a 35,962-square-foot store on Highway 17 at Petigru Drive in 2018. It will be across Petigru Drive from a Publix that opened in 2015.

The project is subject to a hearing today before the Georgetown County Planning Commission because the 4.8-acre site is zoned as a “flexible design district” that allows multiple uses in multiple buildings. The commission must review the request to add grocery stores to the list of uses. The commission will make a recommendation to County Council, which has the final say.

The county planning staff is recommending approval. “If it wasn’t a flex district, we would be writing the permit,” said Boyd Johnson, the county planning director. The property was previously zoned “general commercial,” which allows grocery stores.

The property owners, Jody Tamsberg and Guerry Green, could have asked to have the zoning revert to general commercial. “We talked about that,” Johnson said. “This would be the most public-friendly.”

The grocery store will add 3,561 trips a day to local traffic, according to the study by Kimley-Horn, the engineers for the project.

The multi-use project approved in 2015 was estimated to add nearly 3,300 trips. But the current zoning allows for two fast-food restaurants and those would have generated an estimated 383 trips in the peak morning hours and 473 trips in the peak afternoon hours. The grocery store is expected to generate 122 peak morning trips and 266 peak afternoon trips.

The biggest impact to traffic is expected to be at a driveway off Highway 17 that Lidl will share with the existing Pawleys Wines and Spirits. At peak afternoon travel “moderate delays” are projected for southbound traffic once the store opens.

No improvements are proposed, although the engineers recommend extending the left-turn lane on Highway 17 for northbound traffic at the Petigru Drive light. The light was installed in 2015 for traffic from Publix.

Most of the comments received by the planning office are about the need for another grocery store in the Pawleys Island area. Including the Bi-Lo in Litchfield, Lidl will make six. “That’s not something we regulate,” Johnson said.

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The commission meets today at 5:30 p.m. in County Council chambers in the old courthouse at the corner of Screven and Prince streets in Georgetown.

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