By Jesse Wood
That “new factor” is alive and well at Zaxby’s, the new restaurant that opened at the corner of State Farm Road and N.C. 105 Extension last week.
The neighboring lot that houses Papa John’s and Freedom Electric now features fresh signs warning motorists that they might be towed if they park and aren’t frequenting the pizza joint or electrician’s shop.
In the past week, residents of Beverly Heights Avenue voiced concerns to the Town of Boone and attended the Boone Town Council meeting on Thursday night to complain about non-residents wandering down Beverly Heights Drive; non-alert drivers speeding through the neighborhood; and vehicles turning around in residential driveways since Zaxby’s opened.
“The traffic impact is really great,” Paula Ward said.
Ward said she grew up in the neighborhood, which is almost 50 years old, and still has relatives, including her mother, that live there. Ward said that she has a three little kids that play in the backyard, near the road, and cars are just zooming through the neighborhood.
“I am not sure why they aren’t so alert,” Ward said.
Town Manager John Ward (no relation) said that the police department, public works department and planning department are all looking into how to curb the impact of Zaxby’s popularity to Beverly Heights Avenue.
The police department is enforcing in the neighborhood more so now, and Ward also mentioned that a traffic engineer might be called to offer expertise.
John Ward cautioned against a knee-jerk reaction to change the traffic pattern, such as making Beverly Heights Avenue one way, because it could cause a problem at the other end of the relief valve and also confusion with the change.
He also mentioned that he’s been on sight observing the traffic and talking with residents. He said that residents of the neighborhood use both exits off of N.C. 105 Extension and State Farm Road regularly.
“It’s a very delicate issue,” John Ward said.
Ward also said that the local police department had to do the same thing with Chick-Fil-A and Barberitos when those restaurants opened in Boone.
Ward called this the “new factor. He noted it usually dissipated after a couple weeks.
Councilwoman Lynne Mason, who put this matter on the agenda, said that the town might even have to go back and look at the Unified Development Ordinance, which was re-adopted in 2013 after a three-year revision process.
“We try to get it right with the permitting process, but something has gone wrong here,” Mason said, adding that she was “personally committed” to seeing things righted for the residents of the neighborhood.
Prior to approving a special use permit and two variance requests, the Boone Board of Adjustment heard from residents of Beverly Heights Avenue who felt the restaurant would bring extra traffic through the neighborhood because it has two access points, one off of N.C. 105 and another off of the avenue. The permit was approved by the Boone Board of Adjustment in Feb. 2014.
“If we have to look at making more modifications to within the UDO we need to because this isn’t desired,” Mason said.
The Boone Town Council agreed to take the matter up at the transportation committee meeting on Nov. 10 at noon. Because enough council members to make a quorum might show up to discuss strategies on how to resolve this problem, the council called a special meeting for that date and time.
In the mean time, Mason told concerned residents to brainstorm strategies amongst themselves on what they would like to have done, i.e., placement of a speed bump, possible lowering of speed bump, one-way suggestions, types of signage, etc.