Sunset Hills planning and zoning commission members recommended a conditional use permit and preliminary development plan for a proposed Petro Mart at 1430 S. Kirkwood Rd., just south of access ramps to Interstate 44.
Representatives of Petro Mart argued that the creation of their development would bring traffic improvements to the stretch of road--other Lindbergh Boulevard businesses were more skeptical of its potential impact during Wednesday night's meeting.
The problem was not the gas station itself, but the changes to Lindbergh Boulevard that were recommended in a traffic study, and again by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), that raised the eyebrows of , , and /Circle K management.
It was the second round for the gas station and convenience store chain, which came in front of the commission last year, Sunset Hills Public Works Director Anne Lamitola said. Some changes to their previous proposal include:
- the installation of a traffic light at Lindbergh Boulevard and Monica Drive to accommodate left turns
- a raised median down a stretch of Lindbergh Boulevard, which would consolidate vehicles turning left on northbound Lindbergh at the new light
- two fewer gas pumps
The changes do not affect a previous text amendment and setback that were already recommended.
Lochmueller and Associates' Chris Beard, who performed the traffic study for Petro Mart, found the road's current state was not consistent with current MoDOT guidelines. Collisions stemming from residential driveways on Lindbergh and the vulnerability of pedestrian traffic were among concerns he raised.
The changes, he said, would mean safer left-hand turns and approximately 30 percent fewer collisions.
Keith Rhodes, owner of Mile 277, said he chose his location on the west side of Lindbergh for its ease of access, and considers the road his main entrance. He believes consolidating left turns at a new light would have a negative impact on the surrounding businesses.
He expressed concern that people who don't know the area will stop at a more accessible restaurant if they have trouble finding an in to his business. Rhodes added that he was told to keep his traffic off Sunset Office Drive when he petitioned for Mile 277, a suggestion that was made should the project be approved.
Shell vice president Chris Kemp said he didn't oppose a new gas station but believes the project is "designed around the convenience of [Petro Mart's] operation."
"Let the project go, get rid of the light," Kemp said.
Both he and Rhodes also expressed doubts that the median would decrease collisions.
Not all neighbors, however, were in opposition. Jim Schmersahl of Schmersahl Treloar & Co., 10805 Sunset Office Dr., said his employees supported easier left-hand turns into their facility.
Ultimately only two commission members opposed the conditional use permit. Commission members also approved the consolidation of three lots for the proposed site, which includes a former Bob Evans restaurant.
The project would be paid with a community improvement district (CID). John King, the attorney representing Petro Mart, said at least two neighboring businesses had agreed to participate in the CID.
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Also discussed at Wednesday's meeting: