Redevelopment hopes collided with the vision of a walkable downtown Monday night when the Overland Park city council denied rezoning for a QuikTrip at 105th Street and Metcalf Avenue.
A divided council voted to deny the gas station and convenience chain after discussing concerns that its design did not do enough to meet the requirements of Vision Metcalf, a guideline for development in the area that encourages pedestrian-friendly mixed use. The council also heard from supporters of Riley’s Full Service station at 10640 Metcalf, whose owner said the QuikTrip would likely put him out of business.
The item got the six votes needed for denial, with council members Terry Goodman, Paul Lyons and David White opposing. But Goodman later notified the council he would ask to have the vote undone at the next council meeting because Jim Kite, Fred Spears and Richard Collins were absent.
Goodman’s announcement caused some of Riley’s supporters in the chambers to object that they had wasted their time sitting through a discussion that lasted nearly two hours.
Although the council ostensibly made its decision based on design standards, they also heard pleas from eight friends, customers and business associates of Riley’s. They noted that independent businesses like Riley’s are also important to the area.
Robert George of Leawood said he went through the same thing when QuikTrip moved near his auto service stations. “In each instance, when QuikTrip goes in, small business goes out,” he said.
David Riley, owner of Riley’s Full Service, said his family business has been in Johnson County 60 years and in the Metcalf location since 1972.
“If QuikTrip is allowed to open up a store right in my front yard it’s going to put our service station out of business,” he said in a short video presented to the council. The business is, “what I’ve been working my whole life for. So I’m asking you to please help me, help our family, help our employees and don’t let QuikTrip come in.”
Some council members said they couldn’t make an individual business’s survival a part of their decision. But many had other concerns about the plan.
The QuikTrip proposal has been battling its way through city planning procedures since it was first presented to the planning commission December 12. The planning commission recommended denial, as did the city staff.
The new store would replace a pain clinic already at that corner and would require new zoning. The 5,858-square-foot store would have 24 fueling stations.
A primary concern of city staff has been the auto-centric design, which is something discouraged by Vision Metcalf. The Vision Metcalf Plan, enacted in 2007, is a guideline that places more importance on building a sense of place with buildings that are adaptable to different uses over time.
City staffers and site planners have made several suggestions to change the design in a way that they said would be more consistent with Vision Metcalf. For instance, they suggested rotating the building so the pumps are not as prominent on the Metcalf side and making changes to the streetscape.
Some council members said they also were not happy with the entrance to the store off Metcalf. Council member Curt Skoog also noted that rezoning to allow the store could change the land use of the area for decades to come and could discourage other businesses from coming that don’t want to be near a QuikTrip.
“If we approve this rezoning it will change the potential redevelopment for the life of that station’s being there,” perhaps 40 or 50 years, Skoog said.
Representatives from QuikTrip said they were willing to provide more landscaping, but could not turn the store away from Metcalf because of security concerns for customers and employees at the 24/7 store. They also said a natural gas pipeline easement restricts how far they can move their building on the lot.
Attorney Greg Musil, representing QuikTrip, argued that the station’s location near Interstate 435 makes a gas station a natural fit. Vision Metcalf doesn’t specifically outlaw auto-related business, he said.
“The difficulty here is the (city) master plan is a guideline, vision Metcalf is a guideline,” Musil said. “De we let that stymie an otherwise good development and if we do, for how many years?”