Part of the proposal calls for the creation of a six-pump gas station and convenience store, located on property between Home Trust Bank and Belk. The gas station would face Barber Boulevard, which is the entrance road to the Ingles.
The design of the gas station posed major problems to board members, who said aspects of the plan did not meet with the town’s current land-use regulations.
“There were so many areas that did not comply with the (land-use) ordinance that to revise the plan to meet the letter of ordinance would basically mean a totally different plan,” Community Appearance Commission Chairman Daniel Hyatt said.
“The gas station had a number of problems,” said Town Planner Byron Hickox.
The Ingles’ design placed three pumps facing Barber Boulevard in front of the convenience store, with an additional three pumps located behind the store. The town’s land use plan prohibits parking and vehicular use areas in front of buildings. Instead of asphalt parking lots fronting the street, the plan attempts to create a streetscape of building facades, trees and sidewalks.
However, Ingles Vice President of Real Estate Randy Jameson balked when told the design would not work in Waynesville’s setting. He said there was no other design that would work for the gas station, and said if Ingles had to put the pumps behind the convenience store, “We probably just won’t do the project.”
“We’re not going to build a nightmare, a design that won’t work. We need to find a way of this fronting Russ Avenue, or it’s just not going to work,” Jameson said.
Having the gas station front Russ Avenue was what Ingles had originally wanted to do. It wanted to place it on the portion of the L-shaped property that extends down along Russ Avenue beside HomeTrust Bank. However, the property is not big enough for a gas station, and Jameson said that talks with the adjacent landowner to buy her property had failed.
Hickox, however, said he believes Ingles can find another way to work the design into accordance with the town’s land-use ordinances.
“I think it’s viable. They claim it’s not, but we get claims from a lot of businesses that they can’t make it work. They have one model they like to keep and they hate to change,” Hickox said.
He added that the architectural firm hired by Ingles was aware of the land-use plan.
“Frankly I don’t know why they submitted it to us like that,” said Hickox.
However, Town Planner Paul Benson made the point at the meeting that the current town ordinances aren’t set up to address gas stations, which might make it more difficult for these kinds of businesses to come into town and set up shop in accordance with town regulations.
Because of this, Hyatt wasn’t particularly surprised the grocer had some difficulty with its design.
“You take a difficult piece of property and you try to put something on it that’s not clearly addressed in the ordinance, and it doesn’t fit well,” Hyatt said.
Ingles plan did include a sidewalk and street trees along Barbers Boulevard in front of the gas station as required by town ordinances.
The commission had no major problems with the proposed 16,000-square-foot addition to Ingles’ current store, which would include a pharmacy with a drive-thru. The expansion will be on the left-hand side if facing Ingles.
The commission did ask the grocery store to consider planting tree islands throughout its parking lot, though it would only be required to do so directly in front of its new addition — for a total of only six trees.
But Hickox would like to see more.
“Trees just make a parking lot much more attractive. When you’ve got six acres of nothing but black asphalt, trees give a little shade to the parking lot and also serve as a calming device,” Hickox explained.
Hickox held out hope that after Ingles sees that planting trees in only one section of the parking lot might look awkward, the grocer may decide to go ahead with the tree islands parking lot wide.
Jameson, however, expressed concerns about planting too many trees.
“As trees go up, it may bury Ingles,” he said.
Jameson also said that, depending on the height of the trees, it could become a safety concern for people in the evening.
For now, Ingles’ blueprints have been sent to the town staff for reworking. It is expected they will send those plans back to Ingles to make revisions in accordance with the land-use ordinance. The plans will eventually go before the town planning board as well.