Local rules could stall auto parts store

Scott Witten Editor

October 5, 2013

ST. PAULS — The town could get an auto parts store next year unless government regulations drive the retailer away.

Town Administrator J.R. Steigerwald said that Auto Zone is looking at locating a store at the corner of U.S. 301 and West Blue Street. The store would hire about six people.

But the deal also hinges on whether St. Pauls would amend its ordinance on retail parking.

The current town ordinance requires a store the size of the proposed Auto Zone — about 6,800 square feet — to have 68 parking spaces. Auto Zone officials have said that their plan will accommodate about 30 parking spaces.

Steigerwald said the St. Pauls’ ordinance seem “a little tough.” Five spaces per 1,000 square feet of retail space is the industry norm, according to Steigerwald.

He asked the St. Pauls of Board of Commissioners on Monday to consider amending the parking regulation.

“The good news is that Auto Zone wants to come to St. Pauls, which would result in some jobs and the tax base would increase,” Steigerwald. “But it may also mean amending our ordinance.”

Steigerwald said the project could also be stalled by a state Department of Transportation requirement that center-turn lane at the entrance of the proposed store.

Steigerwald said that he did not think the lane was necessary and that the additional construction would be “a deal breaker” for the retailer.

He said that the DOT may waive the requirement if it can be shown that the lane is not needed.

The commissioners will decide how to proceed with the project later this month.

“Let’s see what we can do,” Commissioner Ghee Blain Johnson said. “We don’t want to run them out of here.”