By Catharin Shepard •
Staff writer •
Stonegate Village shopping center has a new turn lane on U.S. 401, along with an expansion project in the works to bring additional storefronts to the location.
Commission Chairman James Leach and Commission Vice Chairman Harry Southerland announced the turn lane construction in a video posted to Hoke Emergency Management’s Facebook page. Hoke County Planner Robert Farrell confirmed that a conditional use permit request for the building expansion project will go before the commission at the board’s next meeting Monday night.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation, not the county, handles permits for roadway access, but the turn lane is included in the drawings of the submitted plans for the project, Farrell said.
The Stonegate Village shopping center was built several years ago without a direct access from the main road. People accessing the stores, including Taste of New York, Rockfish Pharmacy and Hoke County’s second ABC liquor store location, have always had to turn down a different road and access a driveway at the rear of the property to get to the parking lot.
Several tenants of the shopping center raised concerns about the lack of a turn-in lane affecting their business. Even after discussions between the stakeholders several years ago, the issue was not resolved. Additionally, some neighboring residents previously complained to county commissioners about drivers cutting down a dirt road and driving across a field, tearing up the land in order to access the shopping center.
Now, the shopping center has its own turn lane, and the landowner has applied to the county for a conditional use permit to expand the shopping at that location. Locklear, Locklear and Jacobs is listed as the architect firm, Farrell said, and commissioners announced J&K General Contractors and Simmons Utility Services worked on the turn lane project.
Leach, Southerland and members of the construction team talked about the project and why it’s important. The turn lane will make it easier for shoppers to eat and shop in Hoke County, keeping tax dollars local, and it should also help make accessing the shopping center safer, Leach said in comments in the video.
The project will cost about $825,000, according to Southerland. The turn lane was not paid for with county funds, staff clarified when asked about the construction.
“We’re going to bring about $825,000 to this area to get this road put in, that’s what it’s going to cost J&K General Contractors to get this turn-in lane for Stonegate Village shopping plaza,” Southerland said in comments at the site. “It’s important to the business community, it’s also important to our citizens because what we have going on is an issue of safety. We want to make sure that we keep Hoke County first in what we’re doing here.”
The conditional use permit going before the board proposes to put in several additional units at the retail site, Farrell said.
The commissioners’ next meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday, December 7 in the Pratt Building on Main Street in Raeford.