Mountaire asking Siler City to close 3rd Street

BY CASEY MANN
Posted 11/15/18

Mountaire has asked the Town of Siler City to consider permanently closing a portion of Third Street within the city limits.

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Mountaire asking Siler City to close 3rd Street

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Posted

Mountaire has asked the Town of Siler City to consider permanently closing a portion of Third Street within the city limits.

The Delaware-based poultry processing company is constructing a $170 million, 255,000 square foot facility in downtown Siler City.

For much of the past year, the eastern portion of Third Street where it intersects U.S. Highway 64 has been closed to facilitate construction traffic.

But as the plant’s opening, slated for early next year, nears, Mountaire presented a request to Siler City to close the road, noting concerns about traffic flow and safety, according to Mark Reif, Mountaire’s community relations manager.

“Based on the number of chickens we will be processing, we estimate there will be 1,518 trucks crossing the street every week,” Reif said. “We think that in the interest of safety and the interest of traffic flow, we believe that it would be best for the city.”

In addition to the Mountaire plant, Third Street is home to about 50 other local businesses, between the stoplight at U.S. Highway 64 and the stoplight at Second Avenue in downtown Siler City.

Business owners say they are concerned about the notion of closing the street that serves as a major artery to downtown.

Tim Cunnup, who purchased H&B Legacy Furniture a year ago with his wife Camille, said hearing about the possibility of Third Street’s closing “almost brought about a panic in me.”

“We’ve had a wonderful year, a great reception, and we’re very excited about the future,” said Cunnup, who also serves as mayor of Goldston. “We’re excited about Mountaire opening and welcome this industry. I know it’ll be good for Siler City and the county, but the thought of closing Third would be devastating to the 50 businesses located on our street.”

Butch Hudson, chairman of the Siler City Planning Board and owner of Preferred Insurance on Third Street, was also concerned about the possibility of the street’s closure – not just for Third Street businesses, but for downtown as a whole.
He noted the NCDOT was proposing to add a median down U.S. Highway 64 and close several intersections such as Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

“Looking at the future, this puts Raleigh and Greensboro (streets) as the only ways to get into downtown,” Hudson said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea if you are trying to revitalize downtown. You’re limiting yourselves.”

Third Street is the old U.S. Highway 64 which is under the authority of NCDOT, not the town of Siler City. But NCDOT is not likely to consider Mountaire’s request without the support of the Siler City Board of Commissioners, according to NCDOT District Engineer Matt Kitchen.

According to Kitchen, the process to close the eastern portion of Third Street may be a lengthy one. The town must first consider whether to support the request and would likely require a public hearing. NCDOT would only consider abandoning its authority at the request of a municipality or other governing body.

Siler City Mayor John Grimes notes that no decisions have been made about the closure, but said a request has been made and the town would respond.

Grimes said he was hopeful the subject will be up for open discussion at the next Siler City Board of Commissioners meeting 7 p.m. on Monday at Siler City Town Hall.

Some business owners have suggested Mountaire construct an alternative entrance for their facility onto U.S. Highway 64. Mountaire’s Reif noted that perhaps an alternative entrance for the businesses on Third Street could be constructed.

The first option would put the costs of construction on Mountaire while the other would put the costs of construction on taxpayers.

“I’d suggest,” Cunnup said, “that our elected officials please don’t forget our small businesses on Third Street. We need support on this matter.”

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