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New Wendell board meets, OKs office development

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WENDELL — A Wilson-based commercial HVAC manufacturer is moving its headquarters to a future Wendell campus after officials agreed to let the project move forward with minor exceptions to the town’s zoning ordinances.

The vote Monday came during the first meeting of the Wendell Board of Commissioners after newly elected commissioners Joe DeLoach and Philip Tarnaski had been seated.

SPC Mechanical had asked the town to move about 20 acres between Wendell Boulevard and Old Battle Bridge Road into a conditional zoning district. The commissioners agreed to the rezoning, which allowed for campus-style parking and a small encroachment into the floodplain — two features that are not typically allowed in Corridor Mixed Use zoning district.

“We’ve done a lot of research and think Wendell is a great place (and has) great access to the surrounding areas,” said Patrick Barbeau, a project manager with Timons Group, the firm that is overseeing the development.

Barbeau said SPC is a family-owned business and that the owners are excited to move to Wendell.

The campus will be built in four phases and include seven buildings totaling 40,000 square feet, according to site plans. The company had a groundbreaking for the main building, a two-story, 27,000-square-foot headquarters, on Wednesday.

Five of the remaining buildings will be office buildings and the company may sell those buildings. The last building may be a bank. It may take up to four years to complete all four phases of construction.

The property is just outside the town limits and will need to be annexed. Additionally, the developer would be responsible for widening portions of Wendell Boulevard and Old Battle Bridge Road.

The commissioners approved the rezoning unanimously.

Also unanimous was a later vote by commissioners to grant a special use permit to a downtown dance studio, which it needed to expand its location and add more dance studios on a second floor.

Expressions of Worship Dance Studio, 32 N. Main St., had asked for the permit, noting it had been in business in Wendell for 27 years. The new second floor will open up some space on the first floor for retail use, the owners said Monday at a public hearing.

Currently, the studio needs to rent additional space to maintain its operations, owner Rob Lee said.

“We’ve decided at our point in time that it’s time to stop paying rent to everybody else and to either enlarge our space — which we hope to do to accommodate our growth — or we’ll have to move elsewhere to accommodate our growth,” Lee said.

Regina Harmon, owner of the nearby Wendell General Store, spoke at the hearing to advocate for more parking options downtown.

“The parents sit out front (of the dance studio) waiting on their children to get out of class and they take up a lot of space that could potentially be used by restaurants or whatever,” Harmon said.

The town is working on a plan to more public parking on Campen Street downtown.