QuikTrip files suit against county on rezoning request

By Staff Report

The QuikTrip Corp. recently filed suit against St. Louis County for denying a rezoning request for a tract on Telegraph Road.

QuikTrip last year submitted a request to the county, seeking a zoning change so it could build a 4,555-square-foot 24-hour convenience store with nine gas pumps on Telegraph Road, 550 feet south of Forder Road in Oakville.

QuikTrip requested a zoning change to the C-8 Planned Commercial District and Amended C-8 Planned Commercial District from the 10,000-square-foot R-3 Residence District and C-8 Planned Commercial District for a 2.02-acre site on the west side of Telegraph Road.

The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the request in January, determining that the proposal was land-use appropriate.

Despite the commission’s recommendation, County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, did not have legislation drafted to approve the rezoning request.

The report sat idle for 90 days without being brought up for consideration before the council, which automatically denied the request and killed QuikTrip’s proposal.

In its suit, QuikTrip seeks an injunction that would require the county to honor its request and force the county to rezone the property accordingly. QuikTrip alleges that the current residential zoning is unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious and is inconsistent with the character of development in the surrounding area.

Substantial changes have occurred in the circumstances relating to the proper use and development of the property before it was zoned residential, the lawsuit states, noting that traffic on Telegraph Road has increased, the road has been enlarged and commercial use in the area has significantly increased.

“The … R-3 classification denies owners the right to make any reasonable use of the property, destroys and substantially depreciates the value thereof and destroys their plan for the proper use and development of the property, all constituting a denial of property rights without just compensation …” the suit states.

Concerns regarding QuikTrip’s proposal paired with significant community opposition caused Campisi not to follow the Planning Commission’s recommendation, he told the Call in January.

“I have concerns with the elevation, the fact that it’s right in the middle of a block,” he said, noting that the proposed site also was near a dangerous intersection.

The proposed site on Telegraph would be higher than the property that is adjacent to the north and to the west of the site, according to commission documents.

Representatives from the QuikTrip Corp. said the site would be lowered during a public hearing, but the documents indicate the Planning Commission noted that the lighting had to be shielded to avoid a disturbance on adjacent property and it recommended that a light study be conducted as a condition of project approval.

Department of Planning documents note that 1,170 people signed petitions opposing the request, while 52 signatures appeared on petitions supporting the request. The department also received 349 letters of opposition and 18 letters of support.

About 30 people attended a public hearing in November on the proposal. During that meeting, 20 citizens raised their hands indicating they opposed QuikTrip’s proposal and 10 people raised their hands in support.

“The speakers in opposition expressed concerns regarding traffic safety, especially for patrons wishing to turn left out of this site to travel north,” according to planning department documents.

Campisi opposed a similar proposal in March 2001 made by QuikTrip Corp. to build a store at a different location on Telegraph Road.

The corporation submitted a proposal in 2001 to rezone a residential district to commercial for a 3.17-acre site on the east side of Telegraph about 250 feet south of Martigney Drive, which was the former site of Katydids Garden Shop at 4416 Telegraph. Despite the Planning Commission’s 5-1 recommendation for the request, Campisi opposed the request, citing strong public opposition. Four neighborhood groups had circulated petitions, contending that a 24-hour convenience store would have been too intrusive at the proposed site.