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Gastonia City Council nixes Harris Teeter

GASTONIA – The Gastonia City Council on Tuesday defeated a proposal for a controversial upscale shopping center.

It was a 3-3 deadlock, but the motion failed because a protest petition against the project had been submitted. The rezoning couldn’t pass with a simple majority. Approval would have required a vote of 6-0 or 5-1.

Gastonia Mayor John Bridgeman, who is a real estate broker, represented the owner of the property where the shopping center would go and didn’t take part in the council vote.

Voting against the proposal were Ward 2 council member David Kirlin and Ward 5 council member Porter McAteer and Ward 1 council member Walter Kimble.

Voting in favor of the proposal were Mayor Pro Tem Brenda Craig, Ward 3 city council member Jim Gallagher and Ward 4 city council member Todd Pierceall.

An overflow crowd came to the Gaston County Courthouse for a public hearing on the rezoning request from MPV Real Estate. The session lasted more than four hours. The Charlotte developer has 22 acres under contract in south Gastonia at Robinwood and Kendrick roads for a 104,000-square foot shopping center anchored by Harris Teeter.

Proponents of the project said it would create 300 to 400 jobs and increase the city’s tax base. Also, they said the developer has tried to address residents’ concerns with such things as an 80-foot buffer and road improvements

But residents of neighborhoods near the proposed project were concerned about the size of the shopping center and the potential for traffic problems.

Matthews-based Harris Teeter, which is being purchased by Kroger, left Gastonia in 2012 when it sold six of its stores to Lowes Foods.

Steve Vermillion, managing partner of MPV Real Estate, said after the city council vote that he was “really disappointed. I thought we had a good plan.”

Asked if he would consider another location for a shopping center in Gaston County replied “No. That’s it.”

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