Frustrated residents of the Wild Wing community got the final word Monday night from the Conway City Council that traffic from a new ALDI’s grocery store will directly access their neighborhood thoroughfare.
“Unless there is a desire by someone on council, that decision has been made and will be the direction that we move in,” said Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy.
Conway officials studied the proposal and found it to be in line with city ordinances, as well as county and state regulations, Blain-Bellamy said.
The new store will border Highway 501 and Wild Wing Boulevard. Plans call for the traffic to flow from the traffic light at Highway 501 onto Wild Wing Boulevard and then into the store’s parking lot.
Blain-Bellamy said the state Transportation Department “assures us that it will not allow additional curb cuts” to access the new store directly from the busy Highway 501.
“We used all those engineers we had access to, to determine that it is in fact safer,” Blain-Bellamy said.
The decision was met with silence from more than 30 residents who packed the standing-room only council chambers to voice their opposition to the traffic plan, a departure from their boisterous opposition voiced last week to the city’s zoning board.
Residents tried, and failed, to persuade the zoning board to block ALDI’s request for additional parking spaces.
Barbara Eisenhardt, a spokeswoman for the group, told the city council that they are not against building the store near their neighborhood, but that traffic on the boulevard is already so congested that motorists wait for two or three traffic light rotations before they can gain access to Highway 501.
Adding ALDI traffic would depreciate their property values and their way of life, and is “fraught with disaster,” Eisenhardt said.
Added resident Barry Dykes: “This will ultimately create a traffic nightmare.”