A Kansas City Council committee greeted the revised Westport QuikTrip expansion plan with a half-hearted reaction Wednesday, agreeing to move the proposal forward to the full council with “no recommendation.”
The council could vote July 13 on the proposal, which would basically double the size of QuikTrip’s store and gas station at Westport Road and Holly Street.
The council’s planning, zoning and economic development committee heard several hours of testimony Wednesday, with several people strongly supporting QuikTrip as a great corporate citizen.
But members of the nearby West Plaza Neighborhood Association continued to raise concerns. The council committee couldn’t come up with the votes for a “do pass” recommendation but agreed to move the plan forward, in hopes more discussions can occur next week between QuikTrip and residents.
QuikTrip’s first proposal to raze its existing facility and build a bigger one was met with resounding neighborhood resistance last September when the plan went before the Kansas City Plan Commission.
Plan commissioners, whose decisions are advisory, recommended rejecting the rezoning and development request on a 4-1 vote. The majority agreed with opponents that the proposal didn’t fit the urban character of nearby properties.
A redesigned proposal returned to City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. City planning staff supported the new plan, based on several revisions to the original request, including considerably more landscaping, better stormwater detention, better traffic calming devices and signage changes. Without revisions, the staff report said, the larger facility was inconsistent with some of the Midtown Plaza Area Plan guidelines.
The proposal is for the south side of Westport Road between Holly Street on the east and Roanoke Parkway on the west. The existing QuikTrip is at the southwest corner of Westport Road and Mercier Street.
Attorney Patricia Jensen, representing QuikTrip, said the store has been in its current location for more than 30 years, but the area and QuikTrip have both changed a lot and the store must grow to adapt to changing times. She argued the new plan is a major enhancement.
The redevelopment proposes vacating Mercier south of Westport Road to allow for the larger QuikTrip footprint, but city staff said Mercier should be reconfigured to connect to Holly reather than become a dead end.
A spokesman for QuikTrip at its headquarters in Tulsa, Okla., said the company has met with neighbors since the plan commission meeting to try to address their opposition as well as to meet city planners’ demands.
But West Plaza representatives argued Wednesday that privatizing Mercier, which bisects the project, is not acceptable. They said a private company should not be able to take over a city street to meet its corporate needs.
Attorney Spencer Thomson, representing the neighborhood, argued there should be other ways for QuikTrip to use the street without a permanent vacation.
The plan calls for seven fuel islands (with 14 pumps) instead of the current four islands. It would replace the current 3,200-square-foot store with one that has about 6,000 square feet. The site would hold 52 parking spaces, or 15 more than what is required by code.
QuikTrip has acquired a vacant Berbiglia liquor store and a duplex on Holly to get enough space to expand.
The developer also is seeking to make Holly, now one-way, into a two-way street from Westport Road to the QuikTrip driveway. That request requires separate city approvals.
The QuikTrip expansion is one of several development proposals that Westport area residents and preservationists are fighting because of concerns about traffic, density and loss of the character of Old Westport.