COLUMBIA — A revived request to build a Break Time convenience store at Grindstone Parkway and Rock Quarry Road will go before the City Council once again, as the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the proposal by a 5-4 vote.
Commissioners Bill Tillotson, Ray Puri, Stephen Reichlin, Andy Lee and Doug Wheeler voted in favor of the development. Karl Skala, Ann Peters, Matthew Vander Tuig and Rusty Strodtman opposed the measure.
The request: MFA Oil Co. and 8 Ball Commercial requested to have a 2.05-acre plot of land at Grindstone Parkway and Rock Quarry Road rezoned from agricultural to planned commercial property.
The plan is to build a Break Time gas station and convenience store to appeal to the growing customer base in nearby student housing complexes.
The previous request was also approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
City staff recommended denial of the request. The staff said the land use is incompatible with adjacent uses and does not fit with other plans for the area, described in Columbia's Metro 2020 Plan, created in 2001.
Changes to the proposal: The request was previously presented before the council in the fall but was withdrawn before the council could vote on the issue.
Since that time, representatives of MFA Oil Co. have made alterations to their proposal.
The changes include moving a sound barrier fence closer to neighbors' properties and landscaping the area between the fence and the Break Time station as well as construction of a fence on the east side of Rock Quarry Road along the edge of the Brittany Lane neighborhood.
- Attorney Phebe LaMar, representing MFA Oil Co., said many lots in the area have been developed as either commercial or high-density residential land since the creation of the Metro 2020 Plan.
- Jan Pritchard, who lives just south of the proposed site, said this is the same type of site-by-site rezoning that Laura Nauser opposed during her campaign for City Council. She said the access on this lot is not conducive to a gas station and expressed concern for an increase in under-age drinking in the area.
- Jackie Maxwell, vice president of MFA Oil Co., said the store would be a neighborhood market with an expanded food menu and beer cave, similar to the Break Time store that opened downtown in October. “We’re trying to be a good neighbor and we look for ways to add value and give things back to folks doing business in the community with us,” she said.
- Commissioner Ann Peters said Rock Quarry Road has always been intended to remain a scenic roadway and she does not think this is an appropriate use of the land.
- Commissioner Andy Lee said the convenience store would be a good use of the land because of the number of new apartments that have been built in the area.
- Commissioner Karl Skala said it is appropriate to thank MFA for being a good corporate citizen. However, he said, the commission’s role is to make a decision based on the land use, which Skala believes is not appropriate for a gas station.
- Commissioner Bill Tillotson said he doesn’t believe anyone wants to build a home on that lot. He said students would use the store and commended MFA’s efforts to work with neighbors.
What's next: The proposal will go before the City Council on March 18 with recommendations from city staff, the Planning and Zoning Commission and neighbors.
A separate land variance request for the fence along Brittany Lane must go before the Board of Adjustment for approval.