Two controversial zoning applications that could change the landscape of the Sixes community are set to come before Holly Springs city planners at their meeting Monday evening.
The first is a liquor store slated for the site of the abandoned Shell station at 700 Sixes Road. While demolition on the old structure is in progress, applicant Vincent Infanti said he has asked city planners to table his request until next month.
He told city officials that he and a group of associates hope to open a “high-end package store” that “looks like a country store from the outside.”
But his application has been tabled several times since it was first introduced last November, mainly because staff members discovered tax liens on the property.
Infanti said Saturday that the property owner was in the process of paying off those taxes and that he hopes to bring his plans back to the city in May.
In February, the Holly Springs Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to hold off on their recommendation until the taxes have been paid and Infanti submits all necessary documentation to the city.
Infanti first explained his plans to open a package store for Sixes residents late last year, but his site plan was amended in January to include an adjacent property after he expressed interest in building a multi-tenant building next door and possibly opening a higher-end restaurant. He said he would like to open a location on the property that serves steak and seafood.
“We’re going to have a liquor store on property A and a restaurant on property B,” he said.
But his plans have been met with opposition from Sixes residents who argue they don’t want a liquor store in their historic community, and many of them have voiced their concerns at meetings over the last several months.
At February’s planning commission meeting, resident Debra Frieden said she loves the community and the area near the historic Sixes mill, but said she is worried about what could change if a liquor store is built.
Her major concern with the proposed bottle shop, she explained, is that one of its business partners is the owner of the shuttered Shell gas station, which received numerous citations for selling alcohol to minors while it was open.
City records show the store even had its license suspended for 90 days in 2008 following its third offense.
That, coupled with thousands in unpaid taxes, alarmed residents about the business hoping to move in next door.
“If he loses his alcohol license again we’re going to have an empty store and that’s a concern to me,” Frieden said, adding that records showed the store’s property taxes were past due each year since 2008.
Additionally, she said, the gas station’s owner was issued a bench warrant after failing to show up in municipal court.
“The man has not shown any respect for the city, the county, paying his taxes or your court system,” she said. “We need good business partners here. I’m pro-business, but I’m pro-good business. This is the gateway to Holly Springs and we need to protect it.”
A second controversial application slated to come before city planners Monday is a request for a 20-pump RaceTrac gas station planned near the Aquatic Center at Sixes Road and Gresham Mill Parkway.Sixes residents have voiced concerns over the company’s plans, arguing that a modern-looking, 5,488-square-foot gas station that never closes would detract from their community.
About 20 residents attended a public information meeting held at the Woodstock Public Library Feb. 28 to discuss their concerns with the proposal.
Several argued that a bustling gas station would bring additional traffic to the area at all hours. Others argued that the building’s modern architecture was unsightly and that it would clash with the historic theme of the older-looking structures along the corridor. Additionally, people argued they didn’t want to see the gas station’s bright neon lights from their homes.
RaceTrac representatives and attorney Parks Huff said they were willing to listen to the residents’ concerns, but didn’t seem willing to deviate from the architectural plans.
They made the case for why the station would be beneficial to the community, saying there was a need for a gas station in the area and that the store would create about 20 new jobs locally.
City staff has recommended the approval of the gas station with a list of stipulations pertaining to the building’s appearance and outdoor landscaping. They also included a stipulation requiring the building’s LED lighting to be “as unobtrusive as possible.”
But Sixes residents have provided city officials with their own stipulations they would like to see put in place, said Barbara Kriner, a member of the Sixes Coalition who heads the Falls of Cherokee Homeowner’s Association.
At the top of the list is a request to require the gas station’s awnings be brown or black rather than the proposed yellow, which residents have called “an eyesore.” They have also requested that the gas station’s dumpsters be covered and placed at the back of the store, that they build the structure far enough off the roadway to accommodate the future widening of Sixes Road and that the corporation not use brightly colored bands around the gas pumps or neon signs in the store’s window.
In their recommendation for approval, staff members said the proposed gas station would not bog down traffic in the area.
“Convenience stores are intended to serve the existing traffic and it will not be a significant draw for new traffic,” staff members wrote in their recommendation. “In fact, by adding fueling to the west side of I-575, this use will decrease traffic that must now cross the interstate to access fueling on the east side of I-575.”
Monday’s planning and zoning meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Holly Springs City Hall.