COLUMBIA — A proposal to build a Break Time convenience store at Rock Quarry Road and Grindstone Parkway has ignited residents' concern about traffic, security, light, noise and property values.
MFA Oil hopes to lease the property from 8 Ball Commercial Properties of Tipton and have it rezoned from for planned commercial use. The property is zoned agricultural now.
If the rezoning is granted, MFA would build a 24-hour Break Time convenience store with eight gasoline pumps. The 2-acre property lies north of single-family homes, east of The Crossing Church and west of a small mobile home park.
Area residents worry about the impact of a convenience store in their neighborhood, which has already been transformed by student apartments and commercial development in recent years. They shared their thoughts with city planners at a public information meeting on Tuesday night.
More than 15 neighbors attended the meeting to join the discussion about the rezoning plans with city planners, including Matthew Lepke. He encourages residents to send emails and letters to express their concern before Aug. 1 and to be included in public input, which will be forwarded to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Aug. 9. The Columbia City Council will make the final decision.
An increasing traffic load is the concern for many neighbors.
Sandra Nuzzarello, who lives to the south of the site, sent an email to Lepke on Monday. "Traffic to and from the convenience store will only increase the number of cars in the area and will make an already difficult left turn onto Rock Quarry an even more difficult and dangerous turn to negotiate," she wrote.
Some homeowners worry about the glare of lights from the 24-hour business as well as the noise generated by the traffic. Others are troubled by the possibility that the new business would bring more crime to the area.
"How can you control drunk students driving in our community on every Saturday afternoon," said Aidan Haas, who lives near the site. "My kids cannot go outside."
Homeowners also fear a 24-hour store would cause their property values to depreciate.
Barbara Davis lives 50 feet from the 8 Ball property. She said she has talked to a real estate agent about the effect a convenience store might have on her home.
"The land use will hugely affect the value of my home," Davis said Tuesday. "Having a convenience store in my backyard would decrease my property value by 10 to 15 percent, but more important it would decrease the pool of buyers from 100 percent to just 20 percent. That virtually tells me that I will never ever sell my house.”