By Terry Lane
The Wrightsville Beach Planning Board approved a proposal that would move the ABC Spirits store on Wrightsville Avenue, but its approval comes with recommendations that the town’s board of aldermen consider both the traffic impacts and the preservation of trees that are on the site.
Several neighbors of the site urged the town’s planning board to reject the proposal due to the increased traffic on Wrightsville Avenue, which would also be impacted by other mixed-use development projects planned for the area, including potentially one at the former Galleria mall site.
With Zeke Partin abstaining because she’s the vice-chair of the local Alcohol Beverage Control board, the board voted 4-0 to approve both a zoning change and a conditional use permit to facilitate the move.
Neighbors of the three-quarters acre site located at 7000 Wrightsville Ave., next to the Craft Hardware Store, said they were frustrated because even though the development would impact them, they weren’t politically represented on the Wrightsville Beach board.
“We feel like we have no say on the land right next to us,” said Mimi Perez.
Several said they would like to see a stoplight in front of the store, while planning board members said that only the state could put a stoplight there.
But members of the board said they understood their concerns and added recommendations to the town’s board of aldermen that they more carefully examine the traffic issues before approving the project.
“It needs to be done properly and safely,” Smith said of the project.
The planning board also included a condition that the town would have to inspect the efforts to preserve the trees on the site before approving the building permit.
Members of the planning board acknowledged the concerns about traffic, with chairman Jim Smith noting that truck unloading in the center “suicide lane” is so far one of the biggest traffic blockers on the road.
Architect Frank Smith, principal at Smith2 Architecture + Design PLLC, said that designers “have done everything we can to minimize the impact” of the store.
Site development will implement “light imprint” principles to promote sustainability, including “dark sky” lighting techniques, and a focus on saving the significant tree canopy, he said.
The current ABC Store at 6730 Wrightsville Ave. is 4,138 square feet and was built in 2001. The new store would have 7,050 square feet, as well as a loading dock and larger parking lot. The Wrightsville Avenue store is the third smallest of the nine stores in the county, but generates nearly 13 percent of the county’s total liquor sales revenue.
The retail area of the new store would be about the same size, with most of the size increase stemming from a larger warehouse facility on site, Smith said.
Smith said the the building is designed to be in keeping with the coastal scale and vernacular of the area, which he established in his design of Lumina Station 20 years ago.