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BIG RAPIDS – After several attempts, Krist Oil Company has overcome a major hurdle in its plan to build a gas station in Big Rapids.

Despite persistent objections from local residentsat a recent meeting, the Big Rapids Planning Commission approved a site plan proposal by Krist Oil Company, Inc. to establish a gas station and convenience store at 827 N. State St. by a vote of 4 -0, planner Kasey Thompson abstaining and planners Megan Eppley and Sarah Montgomery absent.

At a meeting in July, following a public hearing, planners tabled the vote on the site plan asking the company to make certain revisions to accommodate concerns expressed by neighboring residents and city ​​staff.

Some of these conditions included the addition of bollards, bike parking and a new fire hydrant, allowing MDOT to connect to the storm water system, installing speed brakes in the driveway and, where possible, installing buffers between the business and adjacent residential properties.

Community Development Manager Paula Priebe told planners that staff believe all conditions have been met in the revised site plan.

“Based on staff review, they appear to have met the required requirements,” Priebe said. “The fire department no longer has issues, public works has no issues and MDOT noted that the applicant must own the property for permits to be issued, but they have tentative approval for connect to the storm water system. Public Works and Engineering said the curb islands and fencing along the lane meet the demand for reduced speed in the lane.

Based on the site plan revisions, staff recommended approval of the site plan for the gas station and food store, she said.

Although not a formal public hearing, Vice President Thompson allowed additional public comment regarding the site plan. Residents reiterated their concerns about increased traffic, noise and light affecting surrounding neighborhoods.

Joseph Quandt, a lawyer representing Krist Oil, addressed the planners, saying that the site plan had been thoroughly reviewed submitted with the application and was a rightful use under the city ​​zoning ordinance.

“There were thoughtful comments offered by the public and addressed by the commission,” said Quandt. “We tried to address these issues with the sitemap review as best we could. We have these additional items that needed to be satisfied. The objective criteria set out in the city ordinance that the plaintiff must meet have clearly been met.

“I appreciate people’s frustration and concern. It’s always difficult, there’s always initial concern and skepticism, but Krist wants to be a valuable part of that community,” he continued. “I think we’ve been an asset in every community we’ve been to. We are a family business and are very concerned about our impact on neighboring properties. These things are rarely popular, but it’s not a popularity contest. There are specific criteria that must be met, and if they are met, the application must be approved, although some people may not be satisfied.

‘THIS IS OUR JOB’

Following public comments, planner Chris Jane said that they (the planners) have all volunteered at the pleasure of the mayor to serve on the planning commission and are doing their best.

“How you feel is important to me, and the impact it will have on you is important to me, but I can’t make my decision based on that,” Jane said. “I have to do what is right for the commission. It’s our job.

Planner Jacob Buse told those present that he had been on the Krist Oil website looking at the various locations where they have gas stations and grocery stores and saw no issues with them. them.

“I looked them up on Google Earth to see the status of the sites,” Buse said. “I did not notice any problems with traffic, the state of the facilities or the parking lot. I understand people are frustrated, but the land is zoned commercial, and if it meets the standards, we have no legal authority to deny it, and in my opinion, it meets the standards.

Planner Kate McCloud said she agreed it met legal standards, adding: ‘I think potentially with the commercial activities there it will increase traffic and other things that we are not up to speed with. comfortable, but that’s how the property is zoned.

“I think it’ll be a nice upgrade to that end of town and make a better impression on the town of coming into something that looks a little nicer,” she continued. “As a resident there, I can’t wait for the convenience store to come over there.”

Krist Oil Company, Inc. has been working for two years to establish a gas station and food store in the city. This is the third property they have submitted site plans for.

The company twice submitted plans to establish a gas station and food store on the former Hanchett property at the corner of State Street and Pere Marquette. City officials unanimously denied this request both times, citing the community’s desire to see this property used for residential and/or commercial development as the reason for the denial.

In June 2021, the company applied for the rezoning of three blocks along the corner of North State Street and Bellevue Avenue from RR Restricted Residential to C3 Commercial for the purpose of building the gas station and convenience store on that property, which which was unanimously rejected by city officials. , as well.