Is the proposed QuikTrip gas station on East Clay Street a truck stop or convenience store?
The Vicksburg Planning Commission may answer that question when it meets on November 2 to resume its hearing on QuikTrip’s request for a waiver of the city’s zoning ordinance to build the station on East Clay Street.
Meeting as the Zoning Appeal Board, the committee voted to file QuikTrip’s request to give company officials time to correct the flaws in its waiver request. The vote came after more than an hour of discussion and debate on the plans for the project.
QuikTrip, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is proposing to build a convenience store on East Clay Street west of the intersection with Miss. 27, filed an exemption request to increase the size of its store from 5,000 square feet set by the city ordinance to 8,292 square feet for a “travel center.”
The hearing was originally set for August, but was postponed to Tuesday after QuikTrip withdrew its application and then filed it again.
Under the city’s zoning ordinances, a person requesting a waiver must demonstrate four things:
* That there are additions and special circumstances which are specific to the land, structure or building concerned and which are not applicable to other land, structures or buildings in the same area.
* That the applicant will experience unusual hardship as a result of the literal application of the provisions of the ordinance different or superior to that experienced by other landowners in the same area under the ordinance.
* That the special conditions and circumstances do not result from the actions of the applicant.
* That the granting of the requested exemption does not confer on the applicant any special use or other privilege that is denied by the ordinance, land structures or buildings in the same area.
The inadequacy of the app was pointed out by Jimmy Gouras, a former Vicksburg town planner and spokesperson for opponents of the store offered by QuikTrip.
“The zoning ordinance is very clear on the deviations,” Gouras said, adding that the criteria must be stated in writing.
“In this case, when the folks at QuikTrip submitted their application, they didn’t say anything about these four different things that are required in your prescription,” he said. “There are four specific elements. In this case, they did not address any of these four elements. Its very important.
The question of applying QuikTrip was part of the debate at the meeting as residents questioned whether the company’s project was a travel hub or a truck stop.
QuikTrip representative JD Dudley said the reason for the discrepancy is that the proposed store is a multi-purpose building for storage, employee training and food preparation, adding that QuikTrip will hire 25 to 35 employees.
He said the proposed project in Vicksburg will not have any amenities for truck drivers. Dudley showed photographs of truck stops and the QuikTrip store diagram to demonstrate the difference between a full-service truck stop and what the company offers for Vicksburg.
“We welcome short haul truckers; the people of Vicksburg running around and stopping for lunch at our store, ”he said. “So these are people who live in Vicksburg and travel through Vicksburg on a daily basis and come home at night.”
He showed a photograph of a C-Store similar to the one proposed for Vicksburg showing minimal trucks parked on the lot and truck parking towards the rear of the property.
“It’s a corporate store,” he said. “It’s a good location for us. “
Gouras questioned the company’s plans, noting that the proposed location had “more or less 40 queuing stations for the 18 wheels; it is not a convenience store. Eight refueling stations for 18-wheelers; it is not a convenience store, it is a truck stop. Certified scales; you don’t have scales in convenience stores.
Gouras and other opponents of the project have also raised concerns about truck traffic on East Clay Street and issues with trucks leaving the store and trying to head west on Interstate 20.
Gouras said the city does not have a zoning for truck stops in the city. The council, he said, does not have the power to grant an exemption for a truck stop.
Dudley said the store only has six diesel bays for trucks with two for cars and said the company is working towards the store’s exit and entry points. He said the truck scales were removed. He said plans include RV parking and truck parking at the rear of the property.