Gas station and car wash are wrong for Sunset Hills, neighbor says


To the editor:

This letter is an open statement of concern about the fatal flaw in a current proposal affecting hundreds of residents in Sunset Hills and Crestwood along East Watson Road as well as thousands of users of Lindbergh Boulevard that travel through the intersection of Rott Road/East Watson.

The fatal flaw exists in the redevelopment proposal of the now-closed Econo Lodge. All residents welcome the redesign of this prominent corner of the city of Sunset Hills. This area is the border for the residential neighborhoods of Sunset Hills and the retail shops, restaurants, office, medical and banking facilities on Lindbergh Boulevard in between the City Hall and The Plaza at Sunset Hills.

Clients of the existing businesses, none of which require variances for high traffic and none of which are open 24 hours, seven days a week, primarily use Lindbergh Boulevard for access to these businesses.

Lindbergh provides a middle turn lane, shoulders on both sides of the road and two lanes of traffic flow in both directions.

Additionally, drivers don’t have to wait at a signaled light to get in or out. The existing signal at Rott Road and East Watson is the only exception, which currently causes problems for drivers, especially during morning and evening rush hour. A signal adjustment to give a protected left turn with widening of turn lanes in both directions would resolve this issue.

This should be considered for the benefit of residents and travelers on Lindbergh no matter what develops on the corner.

In fact, this improvement was in the proposal by Edison Real Estate LLC/ Tidal Wave Car Wash at recent meetings at Sunset Hills City Hall. However, their reasoning was more self-serving as their proposal insists that East Watson be the primary entrance and exit for their proposal which includes a car wash, vacuum stations, 24-hour gas station and convenience store, drive-thru restaurant and other retail.

The fatal flaw that exists here involves this forced high-traffic use of the residential road of East Watson which remains a single-lane-only road with no shoulders, no middle turn lane, with no option for entering traffic for the proposed site but to back up on Lindbergh.

What happens when the backup consists of a tanker truck delivering gasoline supplies and the school bus picking up area children that stand on East Watson to wait for their school bus pickup?

The proposed buyer has not responded to address and orient the development toward Lindbergh or to share in the entrances/exits with existing nearby businesses.

This Lindbergh orientation would resolve much of the traffic concerns on East Watson, improve the logistics for nearby residents and allow the businesses to better share services for all clients.

Everyone wants this prominent corner to have a successful redevelopment outcome, but trying to jam that complicated corner with a complicated business without utilizing the natural flow of Lindbergh’s entrances and exits creates new problems, potentially fatal, for the thousands of users of Lindbergh in both directions and destroys the option for a more supportive relationship with area residents.

The proposed car wash/convenience store/gas station/vacuum stations/drive-thru restaurant and other retail property should seriously reconsider the traffic pattern to utilize Lindbergh or reconsider their choice of property.

Kathryn Heese
Sunset Hills