By a 4-3 vote, Delaware’s City Planning Commission agreed to continue discussing the controversial Speedway case in October.
The vote came more than 3.5 hours into a meeting Wednesday night that saw City Council chambers packed with area residents who either spoke out or were curious whether a proposed gas station/convenience store at U.S. 23 and Hills-Miller Road would get the green light.
Just before the continuation, the commission agreed to add a condition to Speedway’s preliminary development plan — that commercial trucks and recreational vehicles could park no longer than an hour at the site — even though Speedway representatives already said there were no parking spaces for semi-trucks, no overnight parking signs will be posted, and employees would be trained to enforce the restrictions. A couple of commission members were also concerned that placing a time limit on parking might encourage longer-than-needed stays.
“As submitted by the applicant (Speedway LLC), no overnight semi-truck parking shall be permitted within the subject development and the applicant shall be responsible for ensuring compliance of such,” read one of the 19 prior conditions in the city’s staff report.
Speedway purchased the 12.9-acre parcel in 2014, which was already zoned for use as a gas station. The company is proposing to develop 4.8 acres of the property, with three acres being dedicated as a permanent conservation easement. The 4,608 square-foot gas station and convenience store would include seven fueling bays for cars and four diesel fueling bays for semi-trucks, and 34 parking spaces for cars. The Speedway would be accessed by a right-in/right-out curb cut on U.S. 23 and a full movement curb cut on Hills-Miller Road. Speedway representative Chris Warshaw said the truck traffic would be split between Hills-Miller and 23.
The former Obee’s gas station/convenience store adjacent to the property is in Troy Township and is not part of the plan.
According to a Speedway presentation, a traffic study reviewed and approved by the city, county and Ohio Department of Transportation recommended: constructing a southbound right-turn lane on U.S. 23 at the proposed right-in/right-out access; widening U.S. 23 from 10-foot wide to accommodate three 12-foot wide northbound lanes; re-striping the two-way left-turn lane on U.S. 23 to a dedicated northbound left-turn lane; and constructing an eastbound left-turn lane on Hills-Miller. These improvements would be completed before the station/store opening in fall 2016.
Most of the 11 members of the public who were given up to five minutes to speak were against the plan. A theme emerged — the opposition was to semi-truck traffic traveling on, stacking and lingering at what they felt was an already-congested and dangerous intersection.
“We have nothing against Speedway or a convenience store,” said Ted Heiskell. “We just don’t think it should have a truck refueling station.”
“The applicant did a good job, but it doesn’t go far enough,” said Bill Bohmer.
Truck driver Richard Lehner said he supported the station because there wasn’t a safe place on 23 for semis to fuel between Columbus and Upper Sandusky.
Some residents cited a recent Gazette article about parking on nearby Bruce Road in support of their opposition to the plan, but some officials said their quotes were taken out of context.
Before the meeting, some members of the public lobbied to have it held at a site that could accommodate more people, as well as people with disabilities. Staff told them City Hall was handicap-accessible, with an elevator to the second-floor chambers. In addition, the meeting was live-streamed.
The next planning commission meeting is slated for 7 p.m. Oct. 7.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.