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QuikTrip Gains Preliminary Approval Amid Residential Opposition

Nearly 40 people attended Monday's planning and zoning commission meeting to witness whether QuikTrip would gain preliminary approval to move toward the intersection of Manchester Road and Big Bend Boulevard.

A plan that paves the way for 's move to the intersection of Manchester Road and Big Bend Boulevard gained preliminary approval amid an outcry of opposition from Maplewood Richmond Heights parents on Monday evening.

In a 3-2 vote, the Maplewood Planning and Zoning Commission offered its approval of rezoning the northwest corner of the intersection to allow QuikTrip's opening. A sixth member abstained. The move still requires final approval from city council.

If approved, QuikTrip would move from its location at the intersection of Big Bend and Flora Avenue to the current Maplewood Scooter Company* located beside the high school building.

(Keep up-to-date regarding Maplewood business developments by signing up for our morning newsletter. We'll keep you in the know each morning.)

Nine residents shared their opposition to the move during the meeting's public comment period. They cited fears of more traffic congestion at an already-busy intersection and increased safety hazards for students walking to school.

“QuikTrip is selling itself as a destination. We’re fooling ourselves if we think it won’t increase traffic—especially at rush hour,” said Jason Dodson, a father of two elementary school students and one preschooler.

QuikTrip representatives contend that the intersection wouldn't gain much additional traffic, saying most motorists don't drive out of their way to reach a gas station. QuikTrip officials simply hope to draw from the existing traffic, they said.

The existing plan could actually improve safety, said Alan Renner, real estate manager for QuikTrip. That's because QuikTrip would pay for the addition of a right-turn lane on southbound Big Bend Boulevard onto Manchester Road.

Visibility also would improve at the intersection because QuikTrip's building would be further away from the roads than the current scooter store building.

But school officials are more concerned about the potential affect on Martini Drive, which runs between the high school and scooter store property. Semitrucks would use Martini Drive for delivery dropoffs, and motorists would be able to exit on that road.

Right now, students routinely walk along that road, both during and after school hours.

"That's an area where our students are always going to be," said Nelson Mitten, who serves on the MRH Board of Education.

The school board first in late March.

Why does QuikTrip want to move?

If approved, QuikTrip would open a third-generation store at Big Bend and Manchester. The new stores include more food and drink options, including coffees, teas and frozen drinks, Renner said.

They also require more space. QuikTrip would move from a 3,200 square feet at the current location to 5,600 in the new one. QuikTrip would expand from 10 employees to 20 in the move.

That would allow QuikTrip to attract more customers driving through the intersection.

QuikTrip would pay for the demolition and landscaping of its old location if the company couldn't sell the space within a year, Renner said. It's part of an agreement the company signed with the city.

He doesn't anticipate the property remaining on the market that long, however, as Renner has already received three letters of intent from private developers, he said.

The commission was divided on how to proceed

Commission members Jackie Robb and Pickett Lema sided with the MRH parents, sharing their concerns about children safety at the property.

“I have nothing against QuikTrip. If it wasn’t for QuikTrip, my family wouldn’t have milk," said Robb, whose 9-year-old attends MRH schools. "I don’t think that site works. I’m concerned about Martini."

Commission members Dan Noonan, Mike Hummert and Kevin Sullivan voted to recommend QuikTrip's rezoning request.

Linda Siemers abstained. Tom Bakersmith was absent.

What's next for QuikTrip?

Following the meeting, Renner said he hoped to work with the school district to address their concerns.

That's something that school board president Maria Langston said she is open to, but added that QuikTrip has failed to address the school board's safety concerns so far.

"Ideas have not been shared with the district," Langston said. "But we remain open to continuing to talk with him."

Maplewood City Council is expected to first discuss the plan during a meeting on Aug. 14.

Read more on Patch about the proposed QuikTrip move:

  • (June 11)
  • (May 29)
  • (May 25)
  • (May 24)
  • (May 4)
  • (April 27)
  • (March 30)
  • (March 24)

*An earlier version of this article incorrectly named the scooter store. We are sorry for the mistake.

Babsgarcia July 03, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I say let QT build! Talk about getting rid of an eyesore with the current building. Is the High School an Open Campus? Why are kids walking down Martini during school hours? Isn't this a High School and not an elementary school? Shouldn't the kids know by now how to look both ways for traffic!? The junk food worry is a joke, the 7-11 has plenty to offer as I am sure the cafeteria has a few things to offer as well! The intersection will be better served by having a right turn lane as well as being able to 'see' around the corner. I think some of us on the north of Manchester would enjoy having the convenience of a QT closer to us.-- see we lost ours when they put a Wal-Mart in our back yards... At least this proposition isn't displacing homes or the landscape of other homes around it. Pick your battles folks-- All residents pay an extremely high amount of taxes for MRH and not all of us utilize the district. Believe it or not, some are actually not swayed at all by hearing what MRH thinks or wants.
SCBoyle July 03, 2012 at 02:22 PM
I was at the meeting last night as an opponent of the move, and I left with mixed feelings. I have a son at ECC and have the same traffic and safety concerns that have been aptly voiced. On the other hand I got the impression that the current businesses there are not viable long term, so there will eventually need to be some sort of redevelopment there. If I understood correctly, the reason MRH can exercise so much control over the site is because QT needs a special permit (PUD) to put the tanks in. Otherwise, the site is already zoned retail and if another business wanted to move there and could secure the lease, there would be little the board/council could do to stop it, and could not require the new business to make the infrastructure improvements that quick trip is proposing. Is this correct? It's utopian to say that we want a Mom and Pop on this site, but I think we all know how difficult that is right now. We do a great job supporting our businesses, but they don't all survive. In general I think QT is a good corporate citizen and is viable long term. I am quite torn on the issue, but was very frustrated with the board member absence and the abstention. You are not elected, Ms. Siemers, to not vote. If you did not want to be on record as Yes you should have voted No or motioned the issue to be tabled until the numbers for Martini we available, all board members were present and you were satisfied that there was a dialog between QT and the school board.
William July 03, 2012 at 02:22 PM
For those interested in how a corner QT feels traffic-wise, take a visit to the property over to on the corner of Loughborough and Gravios in the city. Nightmare to get in and out of.
SCBoyle July 03, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought they were saying that Big Bend would have 2 entrances, one full size and one right in right out only. Is this correct?
Ryan Martin (Editor) July 03, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Ian is correct. She abstained because she felt uncomfortable about the rift between QuikTrip and school district officials. The two sides aren't communicating very much yet. For example, school board members said they haven't seen the full traffic study, which was made available to the city in early June.
Ian Storm July 03, 2012 at 02:30 PM
@SCBoyle, yes that is right, two entrances basically where the existing drives are into the Auto Plaza parking lot. Of course, the full entrance is still pretty close the light. And then there are the two entrances on Martini Drive.
Ryan Martin (Editor) July 03, 2012 at 02:33 PM
By rezoning the property as a planned unit development (PUD), city council could require special accommodations on the site that may not be included in other types of zoning. For example, council members could outline specific landscaping and signage requirements. I'm unsure about your question about infrastructure, however. I doubt the PUD's language includes anything about the construction of the right-turn lane, for example. It probably includes language for things like sidewalks and light poles though.
Mike Schuette July 03, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I like your observations Jeff. I would like to see the projections of an independent agency that is qualified to predict, given CVS and QT, what "would" the traffic affect most likely be. For people qualified in this field, I'm guessing they could do the sort of number crunching your alluding to, to give a certified, third party report on "what ARE we in for?" I would like to know! It would greatly affect my opinion of QT moving to this location. AND i agree, I hope the city council makes an effort to give the people a 'third party' objective traffic analysis/projection.
SCBoyle July 03, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Thanks. I suppose the infrastructure improvements are things QT is proposing independently to improve the site for their purposes and to mitigate/appease concerns about traffic and traffic flow.
Ryan Martin (Editor) July 03, 2012 at 02:37 PM
There is one entrance/exit on Martini Drive and two entrances/exits on Big Bend Boulevard. The entrance on Big Bend that is closest to Manchester is right-turn only — which means that folks going north on Big Bend can't turn left to enter so close to the intersection. That was a St. Louis County requirement.
Ian Storm July 03, 2012 at 02:55 PM
@Doug, when I look at the plan I see two entrances on Martini drive, basically directly opposite the entrances to Big Bend. Is that a danger to be a cut-through?
Nancy Miner July 03, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Ian, I attended the meeting last night and spoke with the traffic engineer afterwards. If you look at the picture of the drawning, the orange line behind the pumps is NOT a wall or a curb, it is basically a flat surface that cars/trucks can drive over. That means that Martini is totally open to turn in to gas-n-go, except for the green area behind the store.
susan lee July 03, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I also attended the meeting last night and this article and comments summarize it very well. Thank you Ryan. I am curious about a couple of things that were stated. A QT representative said that they "were not able to do everything the city of Maplewood wanted, and therefore will be giving them a gift to use to support parks, etc." Is this sort of gift to a city appropriate? What exactly did the city want them to do? Also, they made mention of the existing space on Big Bend following the move. They reported that if the site did not sell in one year, that they would tear down the building and plant grass. Would this land still belong to QT and be a lot for sale? Who would be responsbile for maintaining the property?
Jeff Kiefer July 03, 2012 at 05:26 PM
If the only way to reach north bound big bend is a left onto Martini followed by another left onto east bound Manchester and another left onto north bound big bend or thru the one big bend exit that exits into the backed up traffic at the intersection it is easy to conclude that many will instead turn right on Martini and head toward the school and other neighborhood streets to access big bend north. QT customers are often in a hurry seeking the convenience of QT. I know i am when i shop there. I just don't think knowingly increasing the number hurried motorists on north bound martini or other neighborhood streets is a good thing. QT is my favorite place to gas up. I travel 7 states and always seek QT when I'm on empty. But they must do much better to resolve this issue to gain my support. It is upon them to make the school board and the families they serve feel their children will be safe. Hopefully city council members will agree.
Garett Johnson July 03, 2012 at 05:39 PM
As someone who works in the building I have a LOT of experience entering and exiting the parking lot. I can tell you that getting in and out of the parking lot is already frustrating and dangerous with the small amount of customers that frequent the building. Eastbound on Manchester: turning left onto Martini is difficult. There is not a full turn lane for Martini. You can block the left hand lane of traffic or you can illegally use the partial left turn area. Northbound on Big Bend: I have had many close calls making a left into the parking lot. Southbound drivers on Big Bend making a left onto Manchester will travel in the turn lane much further from the light than they should. As soon as the traffic backs up at the light the turn lane becomes a free-for-all lane of death. Cars enter it in a very unpredictable manner. It is scary. Southbound on Big Bend: When making a right into the parking lot, drivers will assume you are turning right onto Manchester and are very surprised when I turn sooner than they expect. This is just trying to get into the parking lot. Exiting is just as bad. Have fun making a left to go north on Big Bend to leave. It is going to be a nightmare. At least the current location allows for you to enter and exit with a traffic light. Sure it is hectic once you are trying to get gas, but at least it is safe.
Ryan Martin (Editor) July 03, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Hi Susan — Let me answer your second question first. QT will own the property until it sells it — whether that's while the building is still up or after it's torn down (if it even made it to that point). QT would still be responsible for maintaining the property until it sold too. It seems like city officials are concerned about that space becoming an eyesore for the nearby neighborhood and travelers along Big Bend Boulevard. This would be a way to protect against that. Regarding your first question: I can't recall a representative mentioning gifts, and I can't seem to find anything in the notes I took. I know QT has talked to the school district about finding ways to support school programs, like the athletic department, for example.
SCBoyle July 03, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Susan, I heard it too, it was very much in passing from the real estate representative. I believe his point was in reference to there not being enough space on that site to include many 'green' elements. Trees, bushes etc. In lieu of that they had suggested giving a gift to the city in that vein that they could use "as they see fit".
Jnce July 03, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Exactly, selling cigarettes and alcohol, plus the draw of kids away from school does not belong adjacent to a school. Who else would approve that? Well, maybe rock hill. It will create considerable problems for the high school and with student behavior. Nice customer base for the quick trip though, almost like opening up on campus.
Garett Johnson July 03, 2012 at 09:11 PM
I must confess I do not have a full understanding of the plan for the layout of the new location. I understand now that one of my points, southbound on Big Bend, would be totally negated by a right-turn lane that would be added.
Doug Miner July 03, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Right, Garrett, The proposed QT would be required to add (take from their corner lot) so a dedicated right-only lane could be added onto southbound Big Bend at the intersection.
Jnce July 04, 2012 at 07:58 AM
Yea right.
Seyecw03 July 04, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Once a gas station moves into a location, it stays a gas station. The costs associated with remediation are quite high and would represent a major hurdle for any future developer. I'm on the fence about the QT move...on one hand I don't like the idea of another gas station at that exit (what's wrong with their location 2 blocks south - it's always jam packed!) but on the other hand I'm all for new investment in Maplewood and redevelopment. One thing is for sure though, if the scooter shop becomes a gas station, it's going to stay a gas station for a long long time.
Debbie Tolstoi July 04, 2012 at 01:28 PM
I have mixed feelings about the move. Easy access to cheap junk food is an absurd reason to oppose the move. If our kids want junk food, there is plenty of it available already. White Castle, DMart, 7-11, Jack in the Box and Steak and Shake are all within walking distance. I also believe the existing building on the corner is an eyesore. QT is supposed to be a great company. I would have to think the people that live on Folk Ave. would be happy to see a 24 hour a day business leave? My biggest concern is the added traffic to the corner. Hopefully QT, the City of Maplewood and the traffic experts from St. Louis County come up with a good solution.
mormit July 04, 2012 at 03:01 PM
The only thing I agree with the QT representatives on is that people will not go out of their way for a gas station. If QT moves, the new location becomes inconvenient for me. I'm sure Conoco, Phillips 66, and ZX will welcome the Northbound Big Bend customers who have no way of turning in there. The current location is great from all approaches and virtually enjoys its own private stoplight. I would estimate residential traffic at the BB/Flora light to be about 25% tops.
TP July 04, 2012 at 03:56 PM
I need to address the comments above that imply if the kids just crossed at the corners, they'd be safe. WRONG. Each year kids are hit IN the crosswalk while crossing WITH the light. We have been extremely lucky that the worst victims so far have been instrument cases and a few bruised thighs or twisted knees. But the fact remains that KIDS GET HIT THERE NOW. And the cause has been inattentive or selfish drivers who think it is more important for them to beat a light or take a call than it is for a kid to get safely to school. I'm not saying that a kid never pushes the limit either, but they don't deserve to die for it. I AM saying that the drivers in the cases I know of have been the one to blame and I don't see the current proposal doing anything but putting more kids in danger. It's not the junk food - that isn't a real issue. That is just a distraction. As for the alcohol and tobacco, it isn't because I think QT will sell to kids. It's because I don't think it's a good idea to sell either within 15 feet of a school. Do we need our Friday night football fans battling for access with the Friday night party crowd trying to grab one more case of beer before they hit the town? To each their own. I don't care who parties, what you drink or who you are. But I do care if you are doing so within 15 feet of kids and school property.
TP July 05, 2012 at 01:57 AM
No, Bart - Our kids aren't too stupid to cross the street. They are getting hit by cars right in the crosswalk while crossing with the light. It's the DRIVERS who are too stupid to watch where they are going to obey traffic lights. So let's add a fresh cup of coffee and a Hotzee breakfast sandwich and see if they pay better attention then.
mormit July 05, 2012 at 03:01 AM
It is the drivers who are too stupid to give the right of way to kids or other pedestrians who are in the cross walk. It is also the drivers that I witness on a daily basis improperly using the left hand turn lanes. My wife's car was hit by someone who found the need to jump into the turn lane a block before he was supposed to. He was ticketed by the cops for improper lane usage. I still see it happening every day. QT should stay put.
Roger G July 05, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Maybe the fact that it's jam packed is the problem. It would seem that would be an indication that a larger space is in order.
SCBoyle July 05, 2012 at 05:58 PM
New online petition against the move for the upcoming August 14th City Council meeting. https://www.change.org/petitions/city-council-deny-approval-of-the-quick-trip-relocation-proposal
Mr. Completely July 05, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Most important post in this thread: "You are not elected, Ms. Siemers, to not vote." Credit SCBoyle

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