New shopping center OK’d despite traffic concerns

New shopping center OK’d despite traffic concerns
March 09
06:15 2017



A busy part of town will get even busier as zoning for another large shopping center near Hanes Mall was approved by the City Council.

The council unanimously approved rezoning of 11 acres on the north side of Burke Mill Road between Stratford and Griffith Roads for Texas-based developer Levcor Inc. to build a $24 million shopping center there. The businesses it’ll house are expected to create 300 to 400 permanent jobs and have $40 million in sales annually. A point of controversy is that it will make traffic in the area even worse. It’s estimated the center will generate 8,857 trips a day.

Jean Thomas, the president of Charlestowne Homeowners Assocation,

described the gridlock and difficulty getting in and out of places on the high traffic roads around her community, which is off Burke Mill. She was concerned that her section of Burke Mill would become a shortcut to the new shopping center for drivers coming off Silas Creek Parkway.

“I think you have to take into consideration the traffic on Burke Mill Road and the amount of residential areas you’ve got,” she said.

The City Council members expressed sympathy for traffic concerns, many saying that they avoid certain roads or intersections in that area normally.

City Council Member John Larson, who represents the Southwest Ward that contains the area, called it a “difficult case.” He said Burke Mill has already become a shortcut for those tired of fighting traffic on Hanes Mall Boulevard.

Larson and the other council members said they supported the rezoning because the developer plans to mitigate the traffic issues immediately around the center. The rezoning was delayed from last month to give the developer time to respond to the city’s suggestions on its site plan.

“They have made a remarkable attempt to address the traffic problems in the Griffith area, Burke Mill and Fronts Street areas,” said Larson.

The plan includes widening lanes, adding a stoplight at one entrance on Burke Mill, lane alignments to divert traffic away from Burke Mill to Stratford, buffer zones, and green space for better sight lines and aesthetic appearance. Larson said this was better than waiting for the land to be developed in a piecemeal fashion without those improvements.

Even with proposed improvements, the center will create more traffic in the area, according to a presentation given to the council. Intersections that were already graded “F” on traffic flow will have even longer traffic delays. A Griffith exit will send drivers to an intersection with Hanes Mall that has a high accident rate, but city and state transportation departments are hoping to change that by making it a right turn only intersection.

To help deal with traffic issues, Larson proposed a broad traffic study of the Burke Mill area, from Stratford to Silas Creek, which the council approved unanimously. He also proposed a traffic light at the intersection of Griffith and Frontis. Larson withdrew the proposal after City Council Member Robert Clark objected to it. Clark said he wanted to wait for the results of the traffic study.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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