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WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2007
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No traffic light on U.S. 31 for Lowe’s?

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — The city’s $1.4 million capital improvement budget did not include money for a traffic light on U.S. 31 for Lowe’s.

Why?

Because the home improvement store will likely use Hartselle’s development incentive plan to make infrastructure improvements, said Mayor Dwight Tankersley.

Lowe’s, which has opened more than 100 stores this year, is expecting to open a store on property west of Abercrombie Chevrolet on U.S. 31.

The company has locations in Decatur and Athens. Hartselle is Morgan County’s second largest municipality. Tankersley said he has been working with Lowe’s officials for about eight months.

He said the development incentive plan lets developers use future sales tax revenue to cover the cost of infrastructure improvements.

The previous city administration adopted the policy in August 2002, but so far, only Captain D’s has used the plan to recoup the cost of constructing deceleration and turn lanes on U.S. 31.

Tankersley said Lowe’s is looking at two scenarios and has indicated to him that the company will hire an engineering firm to conduct an in-depth traffic study.

“A traffic light is the first scenario, but that will not kill the deal,” the mayor said.

Secondly, the company may have to install turn lanes and use Teague Road as its main entrance.

The traffic light may be an issue because in August the state Department of Transportation would not allow Hartselle to place a traffic light about one-fourth mile south of the Lowe’s site.

The state said indicators such as accidents and fatalities didn’t support putting a light at Sparkman Street, Lane Road and U.S. 31.

When Lowe’s locates, the situation may be different because there will be a need to get traffic on and off the highway, city leaders said.

Tankersley said the city will do what it takes to make the situation safe.

The 27-acre Lowe’s site is land the city annexed in 2002 when Daryl Slate was preparing the construction of a 150,000-square-foot plant.

Earlier this month, the Board of Zoning Adjustment approved two variances for an Anniston development company with ties to Lowe’s.

The variances went to McWhorter and Co., a commercial contractor that this year announced Lowe’s locations in Wetumpka and Dothan.

The two variances will allow the development to install 438 parking spaces instead of 365. The business’ sign be 3 feet higher than allowed by ordinance.

A Lowe’s spokeswoman in the public relations department said the company will not make a formal announcement about the store until all real estate matters are closed.

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