HOLLY SPRINGS — A package store proposed along Sixes Road near Interstate 575 drew opposition from nearby residents at Thursday evening’s Holly Springs Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
The commission ultimately voted to recommend a conditional use permit, but several residents from The Falls of Cherokee argued they didn’t want a liquor store to be the first thing people saw when they pulled off the expressway and entered their community.
Vincent Infanti, the applicant in the case, said the owner of the old abandoned gas station hoped to demolish the structure and build a high-end package store for Sixes residents.
“Everybody knows the eyesore sitting over there 700 at Sixes Road — the old gas station that went out of business four years ago,” Infanti told commissioners and the crowd as he pitched his idea for the store.
He said the two-story building would look “like a nice country store” from the outside, and come stocked with high-end liquors, beer, wine and a cigar humidor.
“It has taken four years for the owner and his family to come up with enough money, approximately $1.3 million, to demolish, regrade and put this extraordinary building in its place,” he said, pointing to an artist’s rendering of what the package store would look like.
“This is ideal for the location,” he said. “And we are requesting that the city grant us the opportunity to build this beautiful structure at the corner of Sixes and 575.”
He said the gas station that’s been sitting there unoccupied went out of business about the time the Department of Transportation lowered the elevation of Sixes Road.
“They were doing 1,500 bottles a week of wine just out of a gas station,” Infanti told planning commissioners. “You do that and 2,000 cases of beer — I think it’s a great idea.”
But several area residents didn’t think demolishing an abandoned gas station to make way for a package store was such a great idea.
Sue McCusker, a resident of The Falls of Cherokee, argued that a liquor store didn’t fit the area.
“It doesn’t fit into the landscape,” she said. “We have the beautiful historic mill right next door that’s kind of the symbol of that community.”
She said if the liquor store were approved, it would be the first thing people see as they drive into the Sixes community.
“It’s a beautiful tree-lined street going down through there,” she said, suggesting to commission planners that a shopping center would be a better location for a package store.
Falls of Cherokee resident Ron Hobbs asked that the conditional use permit be denied for safety reasons, arguing that the divided four-lane road would prohibit residents from making a left into the parking lot.
“You can’t make a U-turn at the stoplight nor can you make a U-turn at the second light,” he said. And if you’re coming from Bridgemill, the only way to access this property is to go all the way down to The Home Depot, make a U-turn there and then come all the way back across the freeway.”
His wife, Susan Hobbs, also spoke. She said adding a modern-day liquor next to the historic Gresham Mill would be an eyesore for their community.
She also expressed concerns that having a liquor store so close to the I-575 could attract crime to the area.
“It’s a very quick getaway to get on and off the interstate,” she said. “We don’t think it’s in the best interest of our community to locate the liquor store here.”
Infanti said he was more than willing to sit down with Sixes residents and listen to their concerns about the business.
Planning commissioners ultimately voted to recommend the conditional use permit 3-1, with Commissioner Sharon Shelton objecting. Planning commissioners added a stipulation mandating that the new structure look like the artist’s rendering of the building.
Following the meeting, Shelton said she voted to deny the conditional use permit because she didn’t feel like Infanti had offered her enough information about the project.
“He didn’t really give any specifics,” Shelton said. “He spoke in generalities and didn’t really say how he planned to promote the business.”
The planning commissioner also expressed concerns that the liquor store could bring about an increase in traffic to the area from motorists traveling up and down I-575.
Commissioner Bobby Murphy was absent from the meeting. Holly Springs City Council members will decide whether to issue the conditional use permit for the package store at their December voting meeting.