The Maplewood QuikTrip may be moving.
The relocation was passed by city council, but may now go to a referendum if enough signatures are collected by a group that opposes the move.
Maplewood Ward 3 Councilman Barry Greenberg submitted a letter to the editor about why he voted for a QuikTrip move to the corner of Manchester Road and Big Bend Boulevard.
The following are Greenberg's words:
The factors to consider when determining whether QuikTrip should be allowed to relocate to the corner of Big Bend and Manchester are:
1. Safety of Students
It has already been established by all parties that the intersection currently has safety concerns due to the quantity of traffic in all directions. Traffic engineers who routinely evaluate circumstances like these have indicated that the presence of QuikTrip will not significantly increase the quantity of traffic passing through the intersection.
Provisions have been made to make the intersection safer by incorporating changes like creating a dedicated right hand turn lane onto westbound Manchester from southbound Big Bend. QuikTrip has committed to adding a crossing guard to help direct students during peak crossing times. The proposed site plan visually opens up the sight lines at the corner to oncoming traffic and to emergency vehicles.
A proposal by QuikTrip put forward to purchase property north of Manchester, farther from the intersection that could have allowed an alternate access to MRH. It would have avoided the congested intersections of Manchester at Martini and at Big Bend. Crossing Big Bend hundreds of feet north of the intersection would seem to alleviate the sensory overload of cars trying to make the traffic lights and trying to turn while watching out for both cars and students. This proposal was turned down by the School District.
Previous claims that the proximity of a QuikTrip to any school was patently undesirable (because it was believed that there weren’t any) have been dispelled by letters of recommendation written by more than one school currently in close proximity to another QuikTrip location.
2. Benefits of Relocation
The existing businesses at the site are not viable but the property is not being offered for sale. The current owner is retaining ownership of the land and any entity wishing to locate there would sign a land lease, similar to the CVS project across the street. A project of this magnitude requires significant development costs and precludes small, niche businesses, like those that define our central business district, from being able to make the site work financially. Development costs for a project like this include site/environmental remediation, building demolition, design fees, building construction, development fees, street and sidewalk improvements, site grading, utility updating and relocation, and approvals from governmental agencies, utility companies, and highway departments.
If QuikTrip is turned away, other businesses would be permitted there that do not require City Council approval. These include: liquor stores, taverns, billiard halls, convenience store without gas pumps, motels and hotels. All uses would still require compliance with zoning requirements (such as lot coverage, setbacks, off-street parking, etc), building codes, and Design and Review Board acceptance, but those types of businesses cannot be denied based on the property’s zoning classification and the proposed allowed use.
QuikTrip in the new location will generate significant sales tax revenue essential to operate the City, make capital improvements and pay for police and fire protection. The project should increase the property’s value and assessment resulting in increased property tax rates, about 2/3 of which goes to the MRH School District. This project is not using public assistance funds like Tax Increment Financing to make it work.
The existing QT location will be developed by another business or QuikTrip will be obligated, and has agreed, to demolish the building, remove fuel tanks, remove paving, remediate environmental concerns and plant and maintain a lawn if the site is not purchased and developed within a specified period of time.
In addition, QuikTrip will hire local employees and establish a high school scholarship fund.
3. Other Considerations
For those citizens that would like to see a different use occupy the site, to date there have not been any other businesses that have expressed serious interest in that location and would be willing to pay for the previously listed expenses required to develop the site. I don’t think that it would be a wise decision to wait for a more desirable use that may never come.
For those that are concerned that the project design is does not constitute vernacular architecture, keep in mind that the building construction is brick and the building and canopy are based on the function that they perform. The location is separated from the central business district and shares the corner with a Shell station, White Castle and the new CVS Pharmacy, all of which follow their company's design prototype.
Based upon an analysis of these issues, I have concluded that a relocation of QuikTrip from its current location would benefit the City and citizens of Maplewood and not create a situation significantly more dangerous than what we have today. Where I feel that I have considered all arguments before voting in favor of the relocation, I feel that the referendum is based on a singular concern regarding safety of our students that hasn't been supported by any expert opinions and is based in part on conjecture and exaggeration. There are ways to make this project safe for our students other than abandoning it and many ideas have been proposed by the School District that have been agreed to by QuikTrip.
Passing the proposed referendum would most likely result in a vacant building on the corner of Big Bend and Manchester, no increase in student safety, reduced tax revenue and the possibility that we would lose our existing QuikTrip.
Also in Patch:
- MRH parent and member of the group opposing the move, Tonya Powel, posted a local voices blog post on Patch that lists her concerns.
- The MRH school board sent a letter to parents on Tuesday concerning a QuikTrip move.
- The MRH school board first sent a letter to parents protesting the move on March 31.