Traffic data will satisfy state requirements for Sun Valley project
Wanting to speed along construction of the Stone Theaters project, the Indian Trail town council approved spending $30,000 to pay for a traffic study, by a 4 to 1 vote, with John Hullinger in opposition. The state requires a traffic study for any projects that could potentially add a significant number of vehicles to a road. As that’s a normal part of the process however, Hullinger and Mayor John Quinn questioned why the town needed to pay.
“This taxpayer money is not mine to give away to a private entity,” Hullinger said. “If you can build a $14 million facility, you can afford a traffic study.”
Quinn agreed, arguing that developers usually pay for such studies and should just write it off as the cost of doing business. Other council members disagreed.
“Any progressive city makes investments like this all the time,” Indian Trail Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Goodall said. “It’s not just about a theater complex, it’s about what will happen around that. It’s an investment,” Goodall added, reminding the council that the town spent more than $30,000 repairing the roof of the building that now houses the engineering department. Goodall said he would be willing to do things like this for other businesses, including Carolina Courts, to keep them in town.
“My sense is most people are tired of just hoping nice things will just come to our town,” councilman Gary D’Onofrio said. “What they don’t want to hear is more excuses on why it didn’t happen.”
While Stone Theaters hasn’t said they’d pull out if the traffic study wasn’t funded, Town Manager Joe Fivas said, the group did expect there to be a contribution of some kind from the town.
The Stone Theatres project is slated to open no later than July 1, 2012 with 14 screens as part of the Sun Valley Commons Phase III project. The final price tag for the Sun Valley project comes out to an estimated $60 million, with an estimate that it will add more than 500 jobs. The movie theater itself will hire up to 50 employees, Stone officials said. The project will add 27.7 acres to Sun Valley Commons, which will encompass 53 acres of retail and restaurants when complete.
“We’re doing the things necessary to encourage business in a downturn economy,” council member Robert Allen said. “This is investment in the future.”
Under terms of the contract, if Stone doesn’t invest the proposed $12 million and open by July of next year, they would be required to repay the town for the study.