After receiving a cool reception from a Fort Mill Township neighborhood, Publix has taken steps to allay neighbors' concerns about its plans to build a grocery story next door.
Residents of Ashford on the Water are afraid if a proposed Publix store is built near their neighborhood, it will increase traffic and noise while creating potential lighting and safety problems.
Answering those concerns, Publix representatives have changed their building plan, going beyond what's required by York County or the state.
The new plan would reduce the size of the planned store by more than 5,000 square feet, move it farther away from Wilshire Drive and implement several traffic, landscaping, safety and lighting changes to address residents' concerns.
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Some of those changes include replacing the current 6-foot fence with an 8-foot privacy fence behind neighbors' properties; installing guard rails at parking lot exits; choosing lighting with shields to prevent light from reaching beyond the parking lot; and putting in a "premium landscaping" plan.
Despite lingering reservations, some neighbors seemed satisfied with the store's efforts to compromise.
"So far they have really gone above and beyond to work with us," said Mindy Ervay, president of the Ashford Homeowners Association, adding that there are some residents who still don't want the store.
Becky and Greg Smith think traffic, already a problem, worsen after the store opens, but they're pleased with the store's efforts to address some of their concerns.
"They're making a bigger effort than other businesses would, and that shows good faith," Greg Smith said.
John Zielinski, a regional real estate manager for Publix, assured a group of concerned but friendly Ashford residents in a meeting Tuesday night of his company's dedication to doing whatever it can to address residents' concerns beyond what is required.
Publix representatives will appear before York County's zoning board and the County Council later this month before conditions for development are approved. Residents have appeared before both panels to object to the store.
Zielinski asked residents not to object to their plans in exchange for promises to work with residents on their current and future concerns.
County Planning Director Dave Pettine said the county will consider all viewpoints.
"This is a neighbor you want to have," Zielinski said. "We want you to be our customers. If we don't deliver what we're talking about, you're not going to be our customers."