Zone changes approved for Wal-Mart, Sonic in Stanford

April 07, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Chili dogs and more low, low prices are on their way to Lincoln County, with zoning changes needed for a new Sonic Drive-In restaurant and Super Wal-Mart approved at Tuesday night's county planning commission meeting. Construction for the new businesses could begin within a month.

Both businesses will be located on U.S. 27 north of Stanford city limits. The planned Wal-Mart site, east of First Southern National Bank, is owned by Tommy Owens. The Wal-Mart plan also includes a fueling station and a one-acre lot which could be used for an additional business.

The current, leased site of Wal-Mart would be vacated upon completion of the new building. The loss of a major business inside city limits was a concern, said Stanford Mayor Eddie Carter.

The large, vacant building left by Wal-Mart would hurt the surrounding stores, said Carter, but "maybe McDonald's can keep the shopping center alive."


Potential traffic headache a concern

Of a larger concern to the commission was the potential traffic headache a major store could cause on accident-prone U.S. 27. The added highway traffic also raised concern with several members of the audience.

Carter said he worried an accident in front of the store would tie up emergency crews and make it difficult to access the building if the need arose. Carter asked if an emergency road behind the building could connect with Hubble Road and give emergency crews a second entrance.

Commission attorney Daryl Day said that from a citizen's point of view, people cutting through the lot to Hubble Road would create a dangerous increase in the amount of traffic on the smaller backroads.

"In my personal opinion, it's not a good idea," said Day.

"They've built hundreds of these (stores), and two major access points, one being signaled, is more than enough," said Wal-Mart site and architect advisor, Brian Hill of CMW Inc., Lexington. Hill emphasized Wal-Mart's willingness to alleviate potential traffic issues before they arise.

Included in the site plans were the outlines of a road-widening project in front of the property. Two lanes, a right and left turn lane, would be added to U.S. 27, with a traffic light at the second entrance. The neighboring First Southern National Bank would have an entrance connecting to the signaled drive.

Hill said water run-off from the lot was also a concern of the company. In response, they have planned two detention basins on the property's west side to help alleviate the potential problem for their new neighbors.

Less discussion about Sonic

Less discussion surrounded the approval of development plans for a new Sonic restaurant.

Steve Branscum of Branscum Construction, said the new restaurant would also be located on U.S. 27, just north of city limits.

The commission voiced concern about the size of the landscape screen to be used between a bordering trailer park and the restaurant's parking lot. As explained by Branscum, Sonic's property would be screened off on its southern boarder with Bluegrass Mobile Home Park by a 10-foot wooden fence and landscaping.

County Judge-Executive R.W. "Buckwheat" Gilbert said the two new businesses would benefit the community through a host of new jobs and more shopping, even if traffic became a problem in the future.

"Hopefully it won't get anybody killed (on U.S. 27)," said Gilbert. "We'll deal with the situation as it presents itself."

Construction for both sites can begin after the second reading and approval of the zone change by the Lincoln County Fiscal Court. Magistrates are scheduled to hear the first reading at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and could call a special meeting for the second hearing. The plans for Wal-Mart, due to the building size, must be approved in Frankfort.

Both companies are also waiting for construction permits to start site excavation.

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