Pinehurst residents have beef over proposed Southern Pines Publix

Posted August 10, 2016 5:51 p.m. EDT

— While shopping at a Publix supermarket might be a pleasure, Pinehurst residents say living near one planned for Southern Pines won't be.

More than 80 people were at the Village of Pinehurst's town hall Tuesday night, urging local leaders to do everything possible to stop a Publix-anchored shopping center from being built on 32 acres wedged between U.S. Highway 15/501 and Morganton Road.

"It's another rolling thunder of new development for our area," Judy Davis, who heads Pinehurst Civic Group, said Wednesday.

Nine of 10 Pinehurst residents oppose the proposed shopping center, Davis said a survey conducted by her group shows. Opponents say they have nothing against Publix; they just point out other grocery stores are nearby, including a Lowes Foods that opened recently.

"It's like, really? We need another grocery store here? We had no idea how much food we must consume here," Davis said.

Atlanta-based Halpern Enterprises wants to build a four-lane road to the shopping center to provide access from Morganton Road. The road would be directly across from the Country Club of North Carolina, where Gregg Johnson lives.

"It's going to be a safety nightmare as well as a traffic nightmare," Johnson said, noting the center's "effect on an already busy Morganton Road."

Halpern didn't return phone calls Wednesday.

Southern Pines officials haven't yet received plans for the project, but a sign along Morganton Road said a community meeting is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Mayor David McNeill said Southern Pines needs to work with its neighbors to preserve the character of the area and make sure any new development is compatible with the "overall ambiance we enjoy here."

The battle isn't the first in the area for Publix-anchored shopping centers:

  • A developer wanted to build one at Falls of Neuse and Dunn roads in north Raleigh, but neighborhood protests led the developer to first scale back plans for the project and later drop it altogether.
  • Last month, the Raleigh City Council rezoned nearly 8 acres at Strickland and Old Leesville Roads to accommodate a Publix shopping center. Neighbors there fought the move as well but weren't as effective.
  • Cary residents near a proposed Publix shopping center at the corner of Green Level Church Road and Carpenter Fire Station Road have complained about the potential for more traffic, noise and crime.