By Philip Haldiman, Independent Newsmedia
A new QuikTrip with 10 gas station pumps on the southwest corner of Olive and 95th avenues is poised for groundbreaking in a few months.
But it did not get to that point without some opposition from nearby neighbors.
A resident with the support of others in the neighborhood appealed the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation to allow the project to move forward. They feared it would bring heavy traffic into the area and a possible criminal element.
However, Peoria City Council affirmed the commission’s decision, approving a Conditional Use Permit, allowing for 10 gas pumps at the new location, subsequently creating a path to new construction.
The 5,773-square-foot convenience store will sit on 4.11 acres, which is part of a larger16-acre commercial parcel.
Councilman Carlo Leone, who represents the area and voted against the project, said he could not support the new QuikTrip because it is not the best use for that corner. There are eight to nine gas stations already in the area, he said.
“That is a lot of gas stations. Talk about quality of life. We don’t have that in (my district) because they want to put another gas station in,” he said. “Once something goes through Planning and Zoning, it will be passed by the council, even if I vote against it. Why can’t we put some little shops there — a hair dresser or a barber shop? Why another gas station? Don’t we have enough? There’s one right across the street. Nobody here is going to support my constituents. I’m the only one. I think this is a bad mistake.”
Councilman Bill Patena took issue with Councilman Leone’s claim the council rubber stamps everything the Planning and Zoning Commission recommends.
“The commission asks the tough questions of staff. So, I do listen to their recommendations,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve heard anything negative about QT. I like them. I don’t think there will be a lot of traffic issues, far fewer than if there were a fast food establishment there. I believe the surrounding neighborhood will welcome it and the convenience it will offer.”
Jason Raith submitted a letter of appeal representing the Erin Groves, La Jolla Groves and Arizona Coronado housing communities.
Residents took issue with the traffic study commissioned by QuikTrip, which they said did not adequately take into account the amount of traffic that will exit southbound into the residential area.
The city received four letters of opposition and four phone calls of opposition on the day before and the day of the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, March 16, when the case was recommended to Council on a 4-1 vote. At the meeting, there were four speakers in opposition to the request, and an additional eight attendees in opposition who did not wish to speak.
The Traffic Impact Analysis found patrons of QuikTrip will unlikely use the 95th Avenue driveway to head south on 95th Avenue, unless they were a resident of the area. The street light at 95th and Olive avenues and the western access point onto Olive Avenue are expected to handle the majority of trips generated into the site, according to the study.
At the May 2 Council meeting, Mr. Raith said the new convenience mart will have a detrimental effect on the quality of life in a neighborhood where children play outside.
Even though the appeal was turned down, Mr. Raith said he would like to see QuikTrip work with the neighborhood to modify the 95th Avenue egress point so it is left-turn only, directing people northbound away from the neighborhood.
“There will be more cars I will be looking for when I’m backing out of my driveway, and more cars traveling down a residential street 24 hours a day. That is what we are trying to avoid. That is what I am trying to avoid as a resident in my neighborhood.”
When a Planning and Zoning Commission decision is appealed, the City Council makes the final determination to either reverse, modify, or affirm the decision. The Council bases its decision on the written findings previously issued by the Commission, applicable law, and/or a number of stipulated criteria ranging from whether the use is designated as a permitted Conditional Use within the zoning district in which the property is located to whether it will be detrimental to the health, safety, or general welfare of those living or working the area.
“In this case a gas station use is a conditional use in this zoning category. We are talking about a specified use and whether, based on our criteria, the impacts have been appropriately mitigated based on the area,” said Planning Director Chris Jacques. “Our recommendation is that the Conditional Use Permit meets all the criteria.”
Brian Greathouse, a land use attorney with the Burch & Cracchiolo law firm, on behalf of QuikTrip Corporation, said he was surprised this case was appealed given the issues at hand. The land surrounding the QuikTrip is commercially zoned, so traffic will eventually increase, he said.
“I would characterize these issues as commercial development issues. These are not really QT or gas station specific issues,” he said. “There is going to be more traffic on 95th Avenue. That is true because there is a vacant field there today.”