Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gas station approved at Ridgewalk, council discusses police salaries

Shoppers who frequent the new outlet mall in Woodstock soon will have a convenient place to fill up on gas before getting onto Interstate 575, at Exit 9. 
The Woodstock City Council unanimously approved, with conditions set forth by the planning commission, a conditional use permit submitted by RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.; however, the decision was met with some opposition during the public hearing portion of the Feb. 24 meeting. 
The gas station and convenience store is planned to be constructed to the north of Ridgewalk Parkway, west of Rope Mill Road and east of I-575, across the street from McDonald’s. The property consists of approximately 2.45 acres and is zoned light industrial with Technology Park Overlay. 
“With the brand new interchange, this is needed in this area,” said Parks Huff with Sams, Larkin & Huff LLP, the law firm representing RaceTrac. 
Huff said he and the applicants have worked with residents of the Meridian subdivision, which borders the property, to ease some concerns. One resident spoke in opposition during the public hearing portion of the council meeting. 
“When I look at that exit, it should be the premier gateway to our city,” Ron Schaefer said. “I’d like for the council to step back, revisit the land use there, perhaps turn it into park land and make it a nice gateway to Rope Mill Park.” 
Some of the conditions that have been put in place to assist in protecting residents of Meridian include: supplementing existing landscaping along the eastern right of way of Rope Mill Road to increase the screening for the subdivision; not allowing deliveries or trash service to occur between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.; and ensuring that all lighting shall be downcast and shall not exceed 0.1 footcandles at property lines adjacent to residential uses. 
“(At) the first public participation meeting, obviously, Meridian had a very large contingency — I think 20 or more folks were there very concerned about this,” Huff said. “They are not here tonight because we’ve worked through these issues with them.”
There were several people in attendance at the City Council meeting, who left after the RaceTrac application was approved, who did not speak during the public hearing. 
Other complaints came from local Towne Lake Parkway Shell station owners Theresa and Charles Goodaker. They pleaded with the council to reconsider approving the conditional use permit for the sake of their livelihood. 
“Our gas station and convenience store is a little more than a mile down the road from the new outlet mall,” Theresa Goodaker said. “We are terrified of the prospect of a RaceTrac opening less than two miles from us, and we can tell you, from personal experience, that these large corporate gas stations destroy small business.” 
Charles Goodaker became emotional when speaking to the council and said he felt the RaceTrac would serve the freeway, not the community. 
One resident, who said she lives on Ridgewalk Parkway, spoke in favor of the RaceTrac and its convenience. 
“As much as I love the new on and off ramp, I haven’t been able to use it as much as I would like due to the fact that there’s not a gas station,” Crissy Tinsley said. “If we were to have a gas station on Ridgewalk Parkway then we would be able to easily stop before proceeding onto the new on and off ramp.” 

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