Waynesville’s planning board debated this week how many trees Ingles should be required to have in front of the gas station. Waynesville’s land-use plan and landscaping ordinance for commercial development is notoriously heavy on trees and bushes.
Under the current ordinance, Ingles would have been required to plant two rows of trees in front of the gas station: one row in between the street and sidewalk and another row between the sidewalk and the parking lot.
The planning board agreed to back off from the double row and instead require only the row along the street.
Ingles’ biggest issue with so many trees was that it would effectively screen visibility of the gas station from Russ Avenue.
“There’s obviously concerns about the visibility of the convenience store,” Waynesville Town Planner Paul Benson explained to the planning board.
However, softening the view of asphalt parking lots and gas pumps from the street was one of the intentions of the tree-planting requirement when it was implemented.
In most areas of town, parking lots are not permitted in front of buildings and instead are relegated to the side or rear — an attempt to define the streetscape with building facades instead of asphalt parking lots. In those cases, only a single row of street trees is required.
The town recently amended its stance on parking lots in main commercial districts, including Russ Avenue, to allow a row or two of parking in front of buildings. The result of that change was a double row of trees: the standard row of street trees plus an additional row in the parking lot itself.
But Benson said he believes requiring two rows is superfluous.
The planning board had to decide whether to make the call itself or defer to the town board.
“If you are uncomfortable making the call on your own, you can go to the town board,” Benson said.
The planning board ultimately decided to grant the tree waiver itself without consulting with the town board. Ingles will plant additional trees on the back side of its building to make up for the trees it isn’t planting in front.
Ingles’ new gas station will share the existing driveway with Home Trust Bank. It can also be reached from a driveway off the entrance road leading to Ingles.
The gas station will sit directly across the street from the lone existing gas station on Russ Avenue. Having a gas station on both sides of the street could make it easier for drivers, who are otherwise prevented from making left-hand turns across lanes of on-coming traffic and instead have to go to the nearest stop light or intersection and make a U-turn if they want to go to gas station on the other side of the street.