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Ingles makes a few tweaks to expansion plans

fr inglesIngles Markets has gotten approval for a few minor changes to its site plan as it moves forward with a $7.5 million expansion project off Russ Avenue, which includes a Chick-fil-A, gas station, car wash, a parking lot makeover and additional retailers.

After looking at the proposed changes to the plan, Town Planner Elizabeth Teague said planning staff found the modifications for the Chick-fil-A would only improve safety concerns. She said the changes for the new Ingles supermarket seemed minor enough for the planning board to approve without turning the decision over the to the board of aldermen. 

Ingles requested to change the number and placement of driveways planned for the Chick-fil-A parcel. Ingles wanted to reduce the number of access drives from three to two and move the access roads that were going to be perpendicular to Russ Avenue to one access that is parallel to Russ Avenue. Teague said the change would mean people could only access the restaurant from the two driveways off the access road instead of directly off of Russ Avenue, which would improve traffic patterns. 

“Whenever you get a driveway that close to an intersection, you have some problems,” Teague said. “But they’ve created a safer driveway scheme.”

The original plan also had the Chick-fil-A building located in the center of the parcel with parking on either side, but Teague said Ingles was requesting to move the building to the southeast side of the property. The change will still allow for 55 parking spots, landscaping, parking for three bicycles and sidewalks as required in Waynesville’s land-use plan. The Chick-fil-A façade will still be facing Russ Avenue. 

Todd Rogers, an engineer for Chick-fil-A, said the reconfigured driveways should improve traffic flow in the area. He said the restaurant would also have a double drive-thru and perhaps mobile ordering, which should keep vehicle backup to a minimum. 

The planning board considered the requests as unsubstantial changes to the approved master site plan, which means the board has the authority to approve them without referring to the town board of aldermen for final approval. The planning board unanimously approved the changes. 

Byron Hickox, town code enforcement officer, then presented a signage request from Ingles. Ingles asked for six separate sign elements — nine signs to be placed on the front of the Ingles façade; attached signage on the gas station; a ground sign for the gas station; a ground sign located at the property entrance on Howell Mill Road; refacing the existing pylon sign on Russ Avenue and signage to be installed on the multi-tenant portion of the main building. 

“All of them meet our standards. I’m only here because item one — nine individual signs on the façade of the building is not permitted,” Hickox said. 

The town’s land-use development plan says no more than three attached signs may be used as long as the total surface area permitted is not exceeded. While Ingles request is more than three signs, Hickox said the size of the nine requested signs wouldn’t even be close to the total square allowed given the size of the building. The nine signs would be smaller, directional signs on the front of the building to help shoppers know which door to enter from the parking lot. 

“They’re intended to direct patrons to the right portion of the store because of multiple entrances,” Hickox said. “They’re not meant to be visible from Russ Avenue.”

Planning staff recommended approving the signage, and the planning board approved the change unanimously. 

The board also approved a change to Ingles’ plans for a carwash to be located next to the gas station. The original plan was for a two-bay carwash and Ingles requested a single tunnel design carwash instead. Ingles Markets Project Manager Preston Kendall said the carwash would be mostly automated but would have attendants to help customers at the beginning and with vacuuming services afterward. 

Kendall also went over a few minor changes to the parking lot design, including redistributing islands between parking spaces, adding a few car-charging stations for electric vehicles and adding another row of parking spaces to the far right of the building where future tenants will be located. 

As for the vacant Belk building, Kendall said Ingles hadn’t had much luck finding a tenant that would be a good fit for the large space. He said the inside of the building was still in good shape and he was open to suggestions. 

“I don’t know what will happen with the Belk building — when we’re finished with the master plan, I think we’ll have to regroup and figure out what we have to do with it,” he said. 

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