The Speedway gas station and store at the corner of Limestone Street and McCreight Avenue could be demolished and rebuilt with a bigger footprint, but not without objections from some neighbors.
According to public documents, Speedway plans to demolish its current location at 1147 N. Limestone St. to build a 3,900-square-foot building in a much larger area.
The company is currently under contract with two nearby home and business owners to purchase buildings at 135 E. McCreight Ave. and the former Hair Design Plus, 1131 N. Limestone St., which would both be razed to accommodate Speedway’s expansion.
In an hour-long discussion Monday night, the City Planning Board voted 6-2 in favor of a zoning request from CESO Inc., an architecture firm in Columbus, to allow Speedway and the other buildings to be rezoned from residential and commercial highway to community commercial districts.
The board also voted 8-0 to vacate the alley behind the Speedway in order to allow for additional screening and fencing.
The rezoning must be approved by the city commission. After the approval, the applicant must seek a conditional use permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals before construction can begin. They’ll likely appear before BZA on Aug. 19.
Speedway spokesman Shane Pochard said no additional details were available, and there is no timetable for when construction would be expected to begin, if approved.
The current location is about 2,200 square feet. The expansion would allow for 27 parking spots, up from 15, but no more pumps will be added.
“It’s fairly tight right now,” said Jeff Tibbitts, a representative from CESO.
They’ll also eliminate the curb cut on Limestone closest to the intersection to allow for easier access in and out of the store and to provide increased safety. Tibbitts said he believes the new building won’t generate much more traffic.
“This is a refresh of the sales offering because of the size of the store,” Tibbitts said. “It’s a pass-by trip … (Drivers) are already headed somewhere, and we make the decision to stop and get gas because its convenient and the offerings inside the store bring them in as well. I don’t see it as a significant increase in traffic.”
Mike and Deborah Peairs, 119 E. McCreight, have lived in the area for more than 35 years. They both spoke against the alley vacation because that’s where they currently park their automobiles and because they believe it will be difficult to move vehicles during a snowstorm. The alleys are currently maintained by residents, not the city.
“It would make it a real hardship,” Mike Peairs said
Several board members asked about the possibility of creating a new alley for residents near the Speedway, but Tibbitts said there are safety concerns given the grading of the land.
Deborah Peairs said traffic will increase with a larger store.
“It’s already a very congested area,” Piers said, “and it’s only going to become more so with the increase in size I see here.”
Pat O’Connor, 1122 Garfield Ave., has lived in the neighborhood more than 30 years. She’s concerned with increased foot traffic and effects on the residential nature of the area.
“It dramatically alters the neighborhood,” O’Connor said.
The application shows the area between Speedway and the homes is about 16 feet. With the expansion, the area will be approximately 29.7 feet.
“They’ve made a good-faith effort to buffer the impact,” Bryan Heck, planning and zoning administrator, said.
Victoria Justice, 129 E. McCreight Ave., said she’s concerned about trash in the neighborhood left behind from customers. She said it’s already “quite a mess.”
“I don’t think a fence is going to fix it,” Justice said.
She’s also concerned about the bright lights shining from the store.
“It’s going to be daylight all the time,” Justice said.
A similar expansion is happening in South Vienna, where the company purchased a home near its location at 213 N. Urbana St.
Speedway, based in Enon, acquired almost 100 new gas stations in 2012 in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. The company is Clark County’s sixth-largest employer.
The company owns more than 1,460 stores in seven Midwestern states and ranks as the fourth largest chain of gas stations in the country.