Nolan breaks two tie votes to approve new Petro Mart

Circle K representatives voice their objections to Petro Mart

By Mike Anthony

Sunset Hills Mayor Bill Nolan cast the deciding votes last week to approve two measures permitting the construction of a new convenience store with gas pumps at 1430 S. Kirkwood Road.

In separate votes, the Board of Aldermen deadlocked 4-4 on approval of a preliminary development plan and a conditional-use permit for the Petro Mart convenience store with eight gas-pump islands.

Voting in favor of the two measures were Ward 1 Alderman Richard Gau, Ward 3 Alderman Stephen Webb and Ward 4 Aldermen Pat Fribis and Art Havener. Opposed were Ward 1 Alderman Dee Baebler, Ward 2 Aldermen Scott Haggerty and Thomas Musich and Ward 3 Alderman Jan Hoffmann.

Nolan cast the tie-breaking votes to approve the two measures.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Dec. 5 to recommend approval to the Board of Aldermen of Land West No. 7’s preliminary development plan and conditional-use permit, or CUP. Commission member Jeff Sanders was absent.

Land West No. 7 previously proposed a 4,500-square-foot Petro Mart convenience store with eight gas-pump islands at the 1.655-acre site of the former Bob Evans Restaurant. John King, an attorney who represents the developer, previously told aldermen the Petro Mart, which would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, would generate $50,000 to $60,000 annually in sales-tax revenue for the city.

Land West No. 7’s revised plan calls for a 4,080-square-foot convenience store.

The developer withdrew a previous preliminary development plan that called for the installation of a raised median on Kirkwood Road — also called Lindbergh Boulevard — from Interstate 44 south to Watson Road and a traffic signal at the intersection of Lindbergh at Sunset Office Drive and Monica Drive.

Aldermen voted unanimously last week to approve two ordinances related to the new Petro Mart. One ordinance approved a zoning change to Planned-Development-Limited Commercial (B) from C-1 Commercial and R-6 Residential at 1430 S. Kirkwood Road, 126 Floralea Place and 111 Monica Drive, and the second approved a lot consolidation for the site.

The board also voted unanimously to approve a text-amendment ordinance that establishes a general guideline for convenience stores with gas pumps at 7,500 square feet for one pump island. The board voted in October to amend the text-amendment ordinance from establishing a general guideline of 7,000 square feet for one pump island.

During a public hearing on the preliminary development plan and CUP, Ward 2 Alderman Thomas Musich cited a Nov. 15 letter from the Missouri Department of Transportation, or MoDOT, to George Stock, of Stock & Associates Consulting Engineers, civil engineer for the project.

“… It says MoDOT will not allow the existing south entrance to be utilized for the proposed development,” Musich said.

Stock told Musich the current Petro Mart plan calls for “utilizing the curb cut within MoDOT’s right of way as it exists today. We’re not proposing to change that.”

Musich later said, “… So what’s correct? This letter or that plan?”

Stock said, “This plan is more current than that letter.”

Musich said, “Will MoDOT allow you to use the existing south entrance?”

Stock said, “I think that’s a question for Mr. King.”

King said, “… They do not have the right to take this curb cut away unless they pay us for it, so long as we stay in the existing limits of the present curb cut … MoDOT cannot take it away from us unless they use eminent domain and condemn the property.”

Two representatives of an existing Shell station across from the site of the Petro Mart — attorney Bill Remis, an attorney with DosterUllom LLC who represents Circle K and Spirit Energy, and Mike Powers, of Circle K — voiced their opposition to the revised plan.

Remis told the board he believed approval of the Petro Mart would create traffic congestion and safety issues.

Gau noted Remis previously appeared before the board, objecting to the proposed median and traffic signal that a traffic study recommended.

Nolan later said, “… Just so I clearly understand this, OK, you and the property owner, OK, are opposed to anything that makes the area safer by a stoplight, but raise the issue that it’s not safe if there’s a competitor across the street …”

Remis said, “… I think you’re misreading exactly what I’m saying …”

Nolan said, “… Is the safety issue a left turn into their property?”

Remis said, “… That’s one of the safety issues, certainly.”

Nolan said, “… Why isn’t a left turn into your property a safety issue?”

Remis said, “I have no idea whether it is or isn’t. That’s not the issue before you tonight, mayor. The issue before you tonight is whether the current proposal is creating a safety issue. Whatever decision was made, my client’s right to be there was decided and he certainly has the right to continue …

“So I have no answer to your question. But what I can tell you is the proposed solution creates safety issues and problems and the current proposal creates safety issues and problems. So you have a problem.”

Gau said, “But the current proposal is to use the site as is. We’re not changing anything that’s been there …”

Remis said, “Well, but you’re putting a use in that we’ve got evidence before you that says that it does.”

Also opposing the Petro Mart were former Ward 1 Alderman Frank Hardy and Carol Morrison of Deane Court.

In September, the two presented to the Board of Aldermen a petition signed by 174 Sunset Manor subdivision residents who oppose the Petro Mart.

The development will negatively impact the Sunset Manor neighborhood by reducing property values, disrupting personal lifestyles, increasing traffic on residential streets and jeopardizing the safety of playing children and pedestrians, according to the petition.

In addition, those signing the petition object to the Petro Mart because it would operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Hardy last month requested the Board of Aldermen delay consideration of the Petro Mart proposal to give him time to collect signatures on a protest petition.

A total of 36 properties are within 185 feet of the Petro Mart and the signatures of 30 percent — 11 — of the property owners would be required for the protest petition.

A valid protest petition would require a two-thirds’ majority vote of all aldermen to approve any zoning ordinances.

“… I was not able to get the required number of signatures for various reasons, but I do have the original petition …,” Hardy told the board.