CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - People living down the road from the site of what will become an ALDI grocery store said they are content with having a shopping center nearby, but they are nervous about having to drive straight through all of the traffic for it every time they leave their communities.
"I think it's going to look exactly like Carolina Forest Boulevard now," said Barry Dykes, who lives in Wild Wing Plantation.
Dykes and Barbara Eisenhardt said they were surprised when they found out the site plan included an entrance and exit on Wild Wing Boulevard.
"Wild Wing Boulevard is very heavily traveled with people going to the golf course and all of the neighborhoods and developments in the Wild Wing area," Eisenhardt said.
"I think it not only creates congestion, but also dangers as people are trying to hurry to cross the road or make the light and somebody is trying to get into the ALDI," Dykes said. "It's just ripe for accidents I believe."
Conway Planning Director Adam Emrick said the planning commission's goal is to minimize conflict when planning ingress and egress.
He said a Wild Wing Boulevard entrance will be safer than having an entrance on U.S. 501 because that would be too close to the traffic light.
He said a 2007 South Carolina Department of Transportation traffic study for the feasibility of the traffic light at Wild Wing Boulevard and U.S. 501 allows for an entrance and exit on Wild Wing Boulevard for whatever commercial development would go into the land on that corner.
Dykes got a copy of the study and he said he think it is outdated.
"It was before Walmart was built," he said. "It was before all of the expansion that has occurred at Coastal Carolina and Horry Georgetown Tech."
However, Emrick said the study accounted for the full development of Wild Wing, which he said is only at about 50 percent completion right now.
He added there is no need to do another study now or change the design because it accommodates all of that residential development along with development of all four corners of commercial properties.
Dykes said he thinks safety is at risk with the use of a 2007 study in 2016.
"I think it is inappropriate," he said. "I think it is a bad decision. I think it represents bad planning. I think the city needs to change their mind on this and go back and re-evaluate it."
Now, Dykes and Eisenhardt are working together to get more people to ask the city to rethink the plan.
However, Eisenhardt said she thinks they were not properly notified of how to express their opinions throughout the planning process.
She said she was never notified of the public hearing for the ordinance involving annexation and rezoning of the property on the Conway City Council agenda in July.
Eisenhardt also said she found out the proposed ALDI for that same site would be on a Conway Board of Zoning Appeals agenda from a friend who has property closer to it.
"It felt to me like they were trying to somehow circumvent the notice that we would liked to have had for all the neighborhoods here so that we could participate in the decision making for our own community," she said.
Emrick said only properties within 200 feet receive notice by mail.
He said a sign was posted about the public hearing in July on the ALDI site along U.S. 501 and another has been posted for the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, which was rescheduled from Thursday to Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m., at city hall.
He said the opportunity for public comment passed with the zoning.
Emrick said the entrance and exit is not approved yet and that the technical review committee has been going back and forth with the developer to finalize the plan.
However, he said he does not expect it to change because it has been planned this way since the SCDOT traffic study and he does not know where else it could logically go.
"It was very disappointing that they were saying it's a done deal," Eisenhardt said.
Emrick said the board of zoning appeals will not be discussing the entrance and exit at its meeting because he said the request is in regard to adding parking spaces.
Eisenhardt said she thinks the parking spaces should be used as a bargaining tool to get the developer to change the entrance and exit location, but Emrick said that is not possible.