Friday, May 31, 2019

City Council approves Maverik gas station next to Cheyenne Creek

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2019 at 4:53 PM

click to enlarge Maverik’s Fillmore Street location opened in 2018. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Maverik’s Fillmore Street location opened in 2018.
City Council voted unanimously May 28 to approve a gas station and convenience store in a streamside overlay zone, despite protests from Ivywild residents over traffic and environmental concerns.

The project, which will be Maverik's third location in Colorado Springs, was approved by the Planning Commission in April at the recommendation of staff. City Council's approval was also required because the company had to apply for a variance to vacate an existing alleyway on the project site at Tejon Street and Motor Way.

But the more contentious issue to residents was another variance allowing a gas station next to Cheyenne Creek, in a streamside overlay zone where city code explicitly prohibits convenience stores with fuel sales.

At the City Council meeting, city planner Matt Fitzsimmons defended the project, explaining that none of the gas station components would be inside the streamside buffer zone 70 feet from the creek.

As part of the site itself falls within that buffer, the entire property is also designated as streamside overlay. That designation will require Maverik to make improvements along the creek by adding a trail and vegetation.

Maverik representatives argued that their state-of-the-art system for trapping runoff and fuel spills, including detention basins and triple-walled pipes, would keep contaminants out of the water. They also cited a traffic study that found most customers would come from adjacent streets, and wouldn't go out of their way to visit the store — meaning traffic wasn't likely to increase by much.

But for Valerie Fix and her son, Alexander Fix, both of whom testified at the meeting, those statements were dubious.

"Though they assure us they have the best of facilities and detention basins, even the best of detention basins could not stand up to a flood," Alexander Fix said, pointing out that the property is downhill from the rest of the neighborhood. He added that the city should wait until a different traffic study for the area is finished before approving new development.

"I support infill and smart development in our communities. This is just the wrong thing in the wrong location," Valerie Fix said. She recounted a recent episode in which one of Maverik's underground fuel tanks at its store in Lander, Wyoming, leaked into the Popo Agie River. The company was ordered to make repairs and pay $1 million on top of the $1 million provided by a financial assurance account, K2 Radio reported in April.

Landscape architect Chis Lieber countered that the improvements Maverik has made to its system since then would prevent such a situation from occurring in Colorado Springs.

While the Fixes were the only two people who testified against the project at the meeting, Fitzsimmons said he received 30 letters from residents opposing the project, and just three letters from people supporting it.

Eric Wyatt, who said he had lived in the area for 50 years and owned 13 local properties, argued in defense of the Maverik store.

"Going inside of the Kum 'n' Go convenience store and the Maverik convenience stores, I really notice the Maverik stores are a lot nicer," Wyatt said. "... I am for Maverik and what they’re doing there. I think they’re doing a first-class job, and I say a win-win."

In the end, city councilors also sided with the developers.

"I’m not crazy about the notion of a national chain, another national chain store in an area that’s kind of a strip for that," Council President Richard Skorman said. "That whole South Nevada corridor is almost all national chains, and I’m not crazy about the notion of another one, but that’s not my criteria to be able to weigh in on this."

Councilor Bill Murray said he was more worried about fuel leaks with gas stations that use older equipment than Maverik stores, which use newer fuel infrastructure.

"Make a mistake, you’re going to pay big time," he added. "And we all know that. So I’m going to support it."

Editor's note: The original version of this web story didn't include the proposed Maverik gas station's location at Tejon Street and Motor Way.

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