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10-23-13

SOME WORRY ABOUT INCREASED TRAFFIC
Concerns over QT proposal heard

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark reporter

Complimentary Quik Trip coffee was a nice neighborly suggestion, but did little to lessen the frustration some residents feel about their potential new neighbors.

Residents from the Riss Lake and Pinecrest neighborhoods spoke out against Quik Trip, a convenience store and gasoline retailer, proposing to move into the southeast corner of the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 45.

Several residents argued the 24-hour retailer would trample what peacefulness they have left and jeopardize their quality of life. Others who appeared at the first informational meeting held at the New Covenant Baptist Church in Parkville rendered the products sold at the enterprise as mundane for the reason that it will bring no new products to the Parkville area.

The back-and-forth between Quik Trip agents and residents from nearby subdivisions rumbled on for more than eighty minutes.

Many of those in attendance were surprised to hear that McDonald's is also proposing the development of a new fast food restaurant adjacent to the proposed Quik Trip. But it was clear, the residents' concerns centered on the convenience store rather than the fast food restaurant.

Matt Brooks, a real estate project manager for the Quik Trip Corporation, initially took the floor to explain the facilities 6,000 square foot design.

He said the new model is “completely redesigned from any other store” including the two stores currently under construction in the Northland.

According to Brooks, the gas retailer would have 16 gas pumps at its Parkville location. Fuel will be stored underground in three 20,000-gallon double walled gas tanks and one 12,000-gallon gas tank. The gas tanks will need to be filled on a daily basis, normally during evening hours.

The access points into the facility include a right in or out along Highway 45 and full access along Highway 9. Following MoDOT’s recommendation, a new signal will be added along Highway 9, said Brooks.

Doug Bias Jr., a 12-year resident of Pinecrest, asked the Quik Trip employees on-hand Wednesday evening what makes the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 45 an optimal location for their product as opposed to a more commercialized area.

“What other studies have you done? There are vacant corners up on the major highway (I-29) that would probably attract you more business and would be more community friendly based on there's no neighborhoods close by like us in Pinecrest who already suffer the (constant) traffic flow in and out of 9 Highway,” Bias Jr. said.

Numerous factors go into selecting a new site location, said Mike Talcott, a retail manager for Quick Trip. The layout of the land, cost, traffic flow, and drainage concerns are among factors heavily weighed.

Talcott along with Perry Pelton, regional real estate manager for McDonald's, said their companies have been interested in acquiring their respective properties for approximately five years. By their own admission, the corner intersect location has a unique draw.

Bias admitted to not wanting to see Quik Trip move into the southeast corner, citing issues with additional noise and traffic congestion directly associated with Quik Trip. He said it will have a negative impact on the area and urged Quik Trip officials to either seek a location near a more commercialized area or purchase the existing gas station located on the southwest corner of the intersection.

Another question raised Wednesday regarded Quik Trip's business principles.

Talcott told those in attendance that Quik Trip is a family-owned company that hires managers from within the region and who themselves have a personal stake in the community.

“Quik Trip really prides itself as being a good corporate citizen and good neighbor,” said Talcott. “Hopefully you have all shopped at our stores and had nothing but good experiences. Our people that staff the stores are committed to being a part of the neighborhood.

“We give back five percent of our revenues to the community,” he said. “We gave over $800,000 last year to United Way, which is all stored right here in the Kansas City Metro area.”

He went on to list several other charities the Quik Trip Corporation makes donations to, including Synergy, as well as Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

He acknowledged that Quik Trip would be at a disadvantage if they did not work with the community. Pinecrest residents were also assured their visibility of the convenience store would be extremely limited.

“There would be a 280 to 290 (feet) buffer from the nearest residential,” he said. The natural vegetation adjacent to the proposed store would remain.

Many residents said they simply weren't buying it.

“We have had numerous businesses put in with folks saying the same thing,” said Bias. “You can sit on my front deck and hear a car wash, the dryers, and the traffic in and out. My quality of life in my neighborhood is going down, because of the traffic flow that you will bring in.”

It is projected Quik Trip will maintain a pretty constant flow of traffic with approximately 200 cars an hour. McDonald's could generate an equivalent number of vehicles, said Pelton, the McDonalds representative.

Tristan Heck-Gilbert, a resident of Pinecrest for five years, echoed Bias' traffic concerns.

“Right now you have a two lane highway that sees an ever-increasing flow of traffic from the increase of development from along 45 or along 9. Residents of Pinecrest are currently struggling during peak traffic times,” said Heck-Gilbert.

Brooks said a recent traffic study indicated the Highway 9 and Highway 45 intersection was indeed failing. The current signaling setup will be improved once the recommended changes occur, said Brooks. Pinecrest residents “will have a break in-between signals to get out of the lot from the neighborhood,” he said.

Without a signal light located at the Pinecrest entryway, Heck-Gilbert said the traffic flow issue would only be compounded by traffic from Quik Trip. All previous attempts by Pinecrest residents to have a signal placed at their entryway have been unsuccessful and with the proposed traffic signal addition along Highway 9, it definitely would not happen.

Another concern raised Wednesday involved storm water runoff.

Residents from both nearby subdivisions expressed their concern that the businesses would wreak havoc on the already troubled drainage system in the area.

Thus far, neither company has engaged in a complete drainage study. But preliminary development plans indicate the runoff would be toward Highway 9. Brooks said Quik Trip is currently working with the city to meet its specific drainage requirements. But at this time the direct impact is inscrutable.

Vic Terrella, a resident of Pinecrest, warned the public Wednesday that despite their best efforts these businesses would move in and may potentially result in the demise of other businesses. “Don't s*** yourself,” said Terrella. “This is going to happen, we just need to make sure that's going to benefit us when it happens.

“You guys (Quik Trip and McDonald's) just want to make money. I understand that,” said Terrella. “The city is here to get money, no matter if it's sales tax from you or whoever.”

He inferred that the gas station located at the southwest corner of the Highway 9 and Highway 45 intersection would probably go out of business once Quik Trip laid down its roots.

Corporate Quik Trip employees responded by saying, “We're not in the business to put other people out of business. We operate several stores that have other competitive stores across the street. You would be surprised that they sustain themselves pretty well,” said Brooks.

Talcott also weighed in on the matter, stating that when he evaluates a potential site, he is aware of nearby competition, but indicated that information is not initially taken into consideration.

“I don't say they're doing X amount, we're going to take all that,” said Talcott. “If I was a regular customer that knew those folks and they had fair prices, I won't desert them all at once. It comes down to customer service and what the offering is. If they have what you need and you're happy with it, then you won't abandon them.”

Bias pointed out that the northeast intersection adjacent from the Quik Trip store in Riverside is a blighted corner.

“You guys go into business; this one goes out of business. You’re over in Riverside, you have a blighted corner already (that) you abandoned and have done nothing with for years. So if this (Circle K) goes out of business, no fault to you… it will bring to our community a blighted area that we don't have.”

Quik Trip employees explained that the Riverside property being referenced was sold “as a surplus property” to an investor who has maintained ownership for nearly 25 years.

“We have no ties with them, but that was a learning example,” said Brooks.

Another Pinecrest resident made the claim that Quik Trip was merely duplicating services and products already sold somewhere within the city limits.

Despite these raised concerns, numerous Pinecrest and Riss Lake residents were quick to share their like and appreciation for the quality customer service Quik Trip repeatedly provides at its locations.

“You guys have a good product. You have good stores no matter where they're at,” said Terrella.

Currently, Quik Trip has 680 retail stores in 11 different states. On average, each store generates approximately $1 million in retail taxable sales each year.

Also on Wednesday, Pelton announced the McDonalds restaurant located a mile or so away near the intersection of 64th Street and Chatham is similar in size to the one they are now proposing. The drive thru would branch out into two ordering points but merge back into one pick up lane.

McDonald's and Quik Trip will move forward with the submission of their final development plans to the city of Parkville. Once they have done so, a public hearing will be held before the city’s planning commission.