The owner of a family-run gas station walked away happy from the Overland Park City Council meeting Monday that denied QuikTrip the zoning it needed to build a new store a block away from his business.
“I’m really happy,” said David Riley, owner of Riley’s Full Service Station, which has operated for more than 40 years at 10640 Metcalf Avenue. “Normally when QuikTrip wants to come in they get whatever they want,” he said of instances when the gas and convenience store chain has moved in other places.
Riley has maintained that a new QuikTrip about a block away at 105th Street and Metcalf Avenue would knock him out of business. “I left it in the Lord’s hands and prayed about it,” he said.
“David beat Goliath,” added his wife, Linda, over his shoulder.
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The council voted 7-5 Monday night to let stand an earlier decision denying the rezoning that was made at a meeting two weeks ago, when three on the 12-member council were absent. At that meeting, Riley’s friends and customers pleaded with the council to deny the rezoning.
Support for a family business is not among the legal reasons rezoning can be denied, and council members have pointed out that they cannot be in the business of choosing winners and losers in the marketplace. Instead, they objected on the grounds that the QuikTrip was too automobile-oriented to be in compliance with Vision Metcalf, a planning guideline that encourages pedestrian-friendly space in that area.
Council member Curt Skoog said he thought the convenience store could set the wrong tone in an area the city wants to preserve as being open to pedestrians and mixed use. “It’s the wrong place for a gas station, period.” he said.
Monday’s vote was the latest in a series of losses for the project. The city staff and planning commission also had looked askance at the proposal, with the planning commission recommending it for denial before it came to the council last week.
QuikTrip proposed to build on the southeast corner of the intersection, replacing a pain clinic. The 5,858-square-foot store would feature 24 fueling stations under a canopy.
The plan would have required a rezoning from office and restricted business to general business.
Some council members had also expressed concerns about the way the QuikTrip was designed. They suggested the store be re-oriented away from Metcalf or moved on the lot. Council member David White suggested a better design might make it possible for the store to fit in with the Vision Metcalf plan.
But Skoog said having the project could affect redevelopment in the area for years to come and potentially drive away mixed uses the city wants to encourage.
“We don’t have to look any farther than the McDonald’s at (Interstate) 435 and Metcalf and how our approval of that changed the future redevelopment of the rest of that intersection. We didn’t know it at the time, but look at it now,” he said, noting that a hotel and other buildings at that corner have been torn down. “I don’t think any of us think of Overland Park as being a McDonald’s stop on an Interstate.”
Council member Terry Goodman, who asked the council to rescind its earlier denial, has been skeptical of Vision Metcalf, saying redevelopment has been coming too slowly to the area. Council members who said the QuikTrip was too auto-centric for the area should remember that they recently made a departure from Vision Metcalf by approving a Lowe’s hardware store, he said.
Goodman said he’s been told by a developer that Vision Metcalf is an impediment to development. The plan, written in 2007, deserves to be revisited, he said.
“There is no vision that encompasses 30 years that was crafted 10 years ago that should not be subject to intense review and correction and revision as time has passed,” he said. “Much of what was anticipated in Vision Metcalf, at least in my humble view, just isn’t going to happen. We risk seeing a boulevard farther deteriorate because we’re sticking to a dream.”
Goodman, along with council members Fred Spears, Paul Lyons, Jim Kite and David White were in the minority who voted to undo the council’s earlier denial.