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Kwik Trip? Not so fast, Hastings residents say

Residents met with Hastings' Planning Commission Monday night to discuss Kwik Trip's plans to build a gas station and car wash at the corner of County Road 46/47 and Vermillion Street. Despite three site plan revisions, residents still were concerned over how the new station would impact their homes.

The latest plan puts the station store to the west side of the property to block light from the fuel pump canopy along Vermillion Street. A car wash was also included, and planned for the north side of the property, with cars entering from the west and leaving toward Vermillion Street to keep car headlights from shining toward residences to the west.

The Planning Commission was to consider rezoning part of the property along CR 46/47, where a home is currently located, from R3 residential to C3 commercial use. The Commission was asked to table review of special use permits for the car wash and for the station itself, and to offer comments on the site plan.

Lynn Mann lives along Eddy Street just behind the property on which Kwik Trip is proposing to build. While he said the property definitely needs to be developed, he's concerned a gas station and car wash there would cause significant problems for the neighborhood.

"I have some real concerns of a 24-7 operation in the area," Mann told the Planning Commission.

One reason for his concern was the noise produced by the car wash blowers. His research, he said, estimated a car wash blower to produce about 90 decibels (dB) of noise, which would be troublesome for the homes located adjacent to the property, with their bedrooms located closest to the proposed station.

Traffic was another of Mann's worries. Already, he said, drivers will turn off CR 46/47 at Eddy Street to avoid the traffic light at the intersection of CR 46/47 and Vermillion Street. He said he's convinced the volume of traffic created by the gas station would be hazardous to residents along Eddy Street.

"It's a good neighborhood and we just can't have a mini Highway 61 on Eddy Street," Mann said.

Scott Teigen, Kwik Trip's Chief Financial Officer, was at the meeting to answer questions about the proposal. To address the noise concerns, he said that the car wash could be moved farther to the east, away from homes. And because the blowers would face Vermillion Street, the noise would be directed away from the residences.

"I don't think the neighbors will hear those blowers," Teigen said.

He also said that in this case, he would expect the car wash hours to be restricted, so the blowers would not cause noise problems in the middle of the night.

Commissioner Tom Bullington expressed concern over the fact that residents around the property felt they could be negatively impacted by a gas station. Kwik Trip is a fine business, he said, but perhaps not the best business for the site.

"This property doesn't seem to be the right fit for this type of business," Bullington said.

"Because of that, I don't know that I would favor the rezoning to C3," he said.

The property that would be rezoned has not yet been acquired by Kwik Trip. The purchase is contingent upon site plan approvals from the city, county and state, and the county is putting up one objection that could put an end to Kwik Trip's plans.

The site plan includes one driveway on Vermillion Street that would be a right turn in, right turn out only access. The second driveway would give full access from CR 46/47. But the county isn't fond of giving that access.

"They don't want a driveway between Highway 61 and Eddy Street," said Associate Planner Justin Fortney.

The county's initial review of the site plan indicated that they would allow the driveway to be built, provided it's far enough away from Vermillion Street, but the permit would be issued as temporary, and at some point in the future the driveway would have to be removed.

The county prefers permanent access be directed to Eddy Street.

Teigen made it clear that Kwik Trip would not be interested in following through with its site plan if the county couldn't guarantee a full access driveway.

"We really have to have one full access driveway somewhere," he said.

It's unlikely a full-access driveway would be allowed on Vermillion Street, since that would require the state to remove the concrete median there. Past talks with MN/DOT have indicated that the state is opposed to such a change, Community Development Director John Hinzman said.

The Planning Commission voted to table the rezoning issue until more information could be gotten from the county and the state. The issue is not expected to be addressed again until the commission meets in March.