Planners support new shopping center

Published 10:26 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Planning Commission on Tuesday recommended approval of a rezoning request and conditional use permit for a proposed shopping center on Godwin Boulevard.

The shopping center, proposed for the existing Godwin Commerce Park, would include a “big box retailer” and several smaller shops in the 28-acre area. The shopping center would include two big buildings and several smaller buildings, and would incorporate medical office buildings into the property. The shopping center alone would total about 250,000 square feet.

A traffic study found that the development would add about 14,000 vehicle trips per day on Godwin Boulevard. The developer, C.W. Brinkley, Inc. Construction, offered to pay for the design work to expand the off-ramp from U.S. Route 58 west to Godwin Boulevard, which currently has a problem with back-ups, in exchange for the extra traffic.

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Randall Royal of design firm Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. said many of the retailers the company has talked with won’t consider coming until 2015-2016 under current economic conditions. That could timeline could change if the economy improves, but the city still would wait a few years before any work would get under way at the site.

One Hillpoint resident spoke during the public hearing, saying that he wanted a buffer of trees between the back of the development and his neighborhood. Trees used to be there, he said, but were ripped away during the April 28, 2008, tornado.

“There will be buffers,” Royal said in response. “We are not going to have an ugly, loud shopping center there.”

Commissioner Ross Boone raised concerns about traffic, fearful that the city is in danger of creating another Holland Road in terms of congestion. The city’s traffic engineer, however, assured him that the city is working on long-term solutions, and has some short-term solutions already in place.

With that, the commission voted 11-1 to recommend approval of the rezoning request. Commissioner Alvin Copeland cast the dissenting vote. Members then voted 12-0 to recommend approving the conditional use permit. Commissioners James Richards and James Rountree were absent.

The matters will be taken up by City Council at an upcoming meeting.