BEAUFORT — Jim Dandy Stores and Davis Fuels is planning a community convenience store and filling station on Lennoxville Road, which company President Jim Davis said is meant to provide a “needed service” to the town.
The company has applied for a special-use permit for a lot at 1550 Lennoville Road for its community store and filling station, which is scheduled to come before the Beaufort Planning Board for public hearing Monday. After, the application will go to the board of commissioners. The move to put a station on Lennoxville Road has drawn some public ire, however.
Mr. Davis said he’s been looking for a location to build a new Jim Dandy in Beaufort since the 1990s. In a Tuesday interview with the News-Times, he said he missed an initial opportunity to buy the lot on Lennoxville Road when Tom Potter Oil owned it.
“We’ve looked at this property several times,” Mr. Davis said. “The most recent time was six months ago.”
He also said they’ve looked at additional locations, but they were either unsuitable or unavailable. Among these locations were across the street from Beaufort Middle School, Huntley Plaza and next to McDonald’s on Live Oak Street.
As of Tuesday, the Lennoxville Road lot is the location of the Austin Veterinary Clinic, which is set to move the practice to 102 Professional Park Drive.
Mr. Davis is currently under contract to purchase the lot, where he hopes to open the station in May.
According to design documents, the proposed filling station will have four pumps with a total of eight pull-in locations. The store will have parking for motor vehicles, golf carts and bicycles. Mr. Davis said the store’s façade and design is intended to “look less commercial” and integrate with the neighborhood.
Some Beaufort residents, however, have voiced concerns about the business potentially increasing traffic and affecting the local environment and public health.
Tuesday, Mr. Davis said he doesn’t think traffic will increase due to the presence of his proposed store and station.
“We’re going to provide a place for people to get things so they don’t have to drive across town,” he said. “We’re not there to attract traffic, we’re there to accommodate what’s already in that area.”
Mr. Davis went on to say the concept behind the community store is ease of access for existing travelers in the area.
“If people aren’t coming down Lennoxville, they’re not likely coming to that store,” he said.
Wilson Creek Realty representative Sam Barnes, who represents Mr. Davis’ company in this project, said Tuesday he thinks any increase in traffic in the Lennoxville Road neighborhood would be the result of residential development, not Mr. Davis’ proposed project. Lennoxville is home to Beau Coast, a huge residential development, as well as nearby Front Street Village and Beaufort Hotel NC.
In response to concerns about environmental and public health, Mr. Davis said state officials have “very strict restrictions on how we install these (fueling) systems that are specifically to protect the environment and the community around these filling stations.”
“Our intention is to provide a needed service to the town of Beaufort,” he said. “How that’s been perceived has been a challenge. We’re not a large business, we’re a small company. Beaufort needs businesses to support its growth.”
Mr. Barnes echoed Mr. Davis’ statements. He claimed they’ve made multiple attempts to involve the community in the project “to get their input on the design of this facility.”
“We knew when we started this, there would be legitimate concerns from the community,” Mr. Barnes said.
At Monday’s board of commissioners’ meeting, town attorney Arey Grady advised the board on quasi-judicial proceedings, like those for a special-use permit, and reminded commissioners they’re not allowed to discuss such matters or form an opinion ahead of the hearing under the law. He did not specify his advice was in regard to the Jim Dandy special-use application specifically.
“That’s the opposite of what elected officials are expected to do and usually do,” Mr. Grady said. “You like the input of constituents and citizens. You like to know what people think about a particular legislative decision or a particular town matter…but when it comes to quasi-judicial proceedings, we have to take the opposite position…we have to be in a position of saying ‘I can’t talk to you about this informally. It’s a violation of my obligations. This is a special type of proceeding.’”
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.