Lowes Home Improvement Coming to Clemson?

Lowe’s has Clemson on its radar
Officials meet with affected residents

May 7, 2008

By Greg Oliver – Upstate Today

Representatives of a Myrtle Beach development company met recently with 35 residents of Ashley Estates and Camelot subdivisions regarding the possible location of a Lowe’s home improvement store at the site where a Wal-Mart Supercenter was once proposed.

Clemson Planning and Codes Director Sharon Richardson said that David Harner, vice-president of Paramount Development Corporation, listened to concerns regarding noise, buffering, drainage, screening and lighting that would be impacted by the store’s location. Richardson added that she encouraged Harner to meet with residents.

“My advice to them was that, if you wish to proceed, to go before the public,” Richardson said.

Harner could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon and Richardson was quick to emphasize that Lowe’s has yet to formally file any plans with Clemson. The planning director said the property, currently zoned as a planned development, doesn’t allow any facility of more than 100,000 square feet.

“Lowe’s wants it in the 115,000-120,000-square-foot range,” she said, adding that a garden center would also be featured. “My advice to them was to talk with the public first.”

Should Lowe’s decide to construct a new store in that area, it would be located on Issaqueena Trail — just north of the U.S. Highway 123 interchange. A similar effort to locate a Wal-Mart Supercenter at that site numerous years ago met with heated opposition from residents and city officials, and store officials eventually withdrew their plans and relocated to Central.

But Zoning and Codes Administrator Bob Vecchio, who attended the recent meeting, told Clemson City Council on Monday night that he felt “cautiously optimistic” about what he heard.

“Some were skeptical and most wanted to know what it would look like,” Vecchio said, adding that the size of the retention wall and whether the facility would be environmentally friendly were other concerns expressed during the meeting.

In order for Lowe’s to become a reality, Richardson said officials must go through the Planned Development process. That means officials would be required to show consistency in their plans when appearing before the Clemson Planning Commission three times, including a public hearing. If the commission grants approval, two additional readings and a public hearing would be required by council.

“At this point, we haven’t received anything,” Richardson said.

Vecchio said the new store, if constructed, would feature a 150-foot buffer on the Highway 123 side and a retaining wall of 15 feet, with 5-foot tiers. A traffic study of the area has also been ordered.

No timetable has been given as to when Lowe’s would submit plans to the city if officials decide to go in that direction.

“They will have to go before the planning commission to start the process, and it will all be handled by them, since it is a planned development,” Vecchio said.

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