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GROCERY WAR: Ingles revives superstore plans

Landowner Gary Jones has sued Ingles and the city of Hendersonville over the closing of two streets that run through property owned by Ingles and other businesses. Landowner Gary Jones has sued Ingles and the city of Hendersonville over the closing of two streets that run through property owned by Ingles and other businesses.

Ingles Supermarkets has revived its development plans for a new superstore on Spartanburg Highway in a high stakes retail battle with Fresh Market and a potential Publix to the west and Harris Teeter across the road.

During a zoning meeting on March 16, Ingles real estate project manager Preston Kendall told planners and adjoining property owners that the new food store would have everything that the new Mills River store has — a pharmacy, fresh seafood market and specialty departments plus a Gas Express.
"We're going to still offer the same supplies and same amenities as we do in Mills River," Kendall said, though at 72,000 square feet the new Spartanburg Highway unit would be a little smaller.
Ingles executives are facing opposition from at least three adjoining property owners.
Gary Jones, a commercial real estate broker, has a pending lawsuit against the city of Hendersonville and the Black Mountain-based grocer over the Hendersonville City Council's decision to close two recorded roadways that run through the parking lot and on either side of the existing Ingles. Jones and his wife, Cindy, and another real estate broker, Tony Barron, all raised objections Monday over the road closing or the parking. Ingles is asking for a setback variance on the west side, a variance to reduce parking by 123 spaces and a variance to add a third driveway, one more than city code allows for property in a "gateway corridor." It also received a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit to replace an open ditch with a box culvert, which it plans to pave over as a tractor-trailer route for suppliers.
"You now have 33,000 square feet and about 8,000 — about 41,000 square feet," Jones told the Ingles developers. "You're going to 72,000. You've had 254 parking spaces, now you want to reduce it and you'll have less parking spaces for 72,000 square feet than you do now for that whole building. Your parking is on my roadbed, my right of way, that wraps around the building that you don't show on the site plan. We oppose that."
Ingles first filed development plans for the site on Dec. 30, 2011. Store executives on Jan. 9, 2012, attended a preliminary review, called a neighborhood compatibility meeting, where property owners are allowed to ask questions and raise objections.
The right of way, Jones said, goes back to 1949 and the original commercial subdivision called the Hendersonville Business Center. The deeds of each property owner show Copper Penny Drive and Joel Wright Drive running on either side of the current Ingles store. Jones owns two parcels of property adjoining the land Bob Ingle bought in 1979 for the store. As a property owner in the old commercial subdivision, Jones said, he has the right to use the Copper Penny and Joel Wright drive roadways.
The City Council, acting on Ingles' request, voted on May 2, 2013, to close the roads as they run alongside the store. In a lawsuit against the city and the grocer, Jones says that the city cannot close a private road, as it did in the Ingles case. The city has argued that it did nothing wrong, and Ingles has fought the lawsuit through three stops so far in Henderson County Civil Superior Court.
"They closed the alleyway," Jones said on Tuesday. "I protested. It's going to court. Ingles turned in a land-use plan and is moving forward and the planners forced me to discuss my case in public with the three defendants."
Jones also said Ingles' site plan does not show alleyways and right of way, as required by city code. The amount of roadway the city closed and essentially conveyed to Ingles totals about an acre based on square footage, he said, which he valued at $1 million.
"So they have really made what my mother called a gommed-up mess out of this," he said. "I'm not against Ingles building and having a new store. I shop there but I'm not willing to donate a million dollars so they can have a new store."
The supermarket chain's development plans is scheduled to go before the city Planning Board on April 13 and the City Council on May 7.