City Council strikes down Break Time proposal

Monday, April 15, 2013 | 11:43 p.m. CDT; updated 6:29 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 22, 2013

COLUMBIA — The proposal to build a new Break Time gas station and convenience store at Grindstone Parkway and Rock Quarry Road failed in a 5-2 vote at Monday's City Council meeting.

Mayor Bob McDavid and Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser voted in favor of the plan. Councilmembers Barbara Hoppe, Ian Thomas, Karl Skala, Fred Schmidt and Michael Trapp opposed the measure.


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Aiden Pritchard Hawes spoke in opposition to the plan on behalf of her parents, Dan and Jan Pritchard, who live near the property.

"If this development is needed or wanted, why does Break Time need to pay people for the support needed for this request?" she said. "If you kick a dog hard enough, it's going to be quiet. That's what's happened. This neighborhood had been kicked into submission by all the development around it."

Thomas said he wanted to acknowledge the benefits Break Time brings to Columbia and its plans for improved infrastructure at the intersection, but said he ultimately feels the gas station would be an inappropriate use of the land.

"Maybe this location at Grindstone could be a neighborhood market without a gas station," he said.

Nauser disagreed with Thomas, saying a neighborhood market without a gas station wouldn't work. No stores or private practices will want to purchase this tract of land without something like a gas station to draw in traffic, she said.

The proposal from MFA Oil Co. and 8 Ball Commercial to rezone 2.05 acres of land from agricultural to planned commercial property was met by heavy opposition from area residents when it went before the council in November. It was ultimately withdrawn before the council was able to vote on it.

The plan resurfaced, however, and a slightly altered version of the proposal was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission at its March 7 meeting. City staff recommended denial of the rezoning request both times, stating the plan does not fit the land use of the surrounding area as outlined in the city's Metro 2020 plan.

Nauser said the Metro 2020 plan is not an ordinance and she believes the staff's recommendation comes from ideas that do not meet the current use of land in the area.

Attorney Phebe LaMar, who represents MFA Oil, said the Break Time plan incorporated pedestrian and bicycle services when commenting on whether the development complies with the Metro 2020 plan. She also presented an informational packet to the council that included the signatures of 136 residents of the area who support the project.

Several neighbors who previously opposed the rezoning wrote in support of the plan this time around, due in part to changes MFA Oil has made to the proposed sound barriers on the site in response to conversations with neighbors. MFA also offered compensation to immediate neighbors of the site to offset the decrease in property values those residents would see if the gas station were built.

"This plan is a really good plan, and it's being done by the right people," civil engineer Jay Gebhardt said in public comment.

If the rezoning had passed, the developers would have provided a second left-turn lane on northbound Rock Quarry as well as a right-turn deceleration lane and an 8-foot pedway along Grindstone Parkway. The convenience store, termed a "neighborhood market," would have been open 24 hours daily.

"To have a 24/7 liquor store sharing a driveway is a concern for us," said Keith Simon, senior teaching pastor at The Crossing church. "We don't think it makes sense to put this next to where thousands of kids are throughout the week."

Mayor Bob McDavid said MFA's presentation was the best he's ever seen for land use. He said the Metro 2020 plan came out in 2001, and, as such, was unable to account for community growth over the years, such as a 40 percent increase to MU's enrollment. He also expressed concern at the loss of construction jobs on the project.

"Things have changed, and Grindstone is commercial," he said. "I think we can all safely say that this piece of land is now toxic."

Supervising editor is Karen Miller.

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