There are more hurdles to clear before a Weigel’s can be built on South Illinois Avenue, but a city board has recommended that a 1.5-acre parcel south of TNBank be rezoned for the proposed gas station and convenience store.
The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission recommended the rezoning in a 7-3 vote Thursday.
The vote came after city officials briefly discussed how vehicles would enter and leave the 3,900-square-foot store, which could open by 2013. Officials were concerned about the impact of traffic turning left off South Illinois Avenue to enter the gas station and turning left to get back onto the busy roadway.
Oak Ridge City Engineer Steve Byrd said he would not recommend full access to the store, but he would support a right-turn-in, right-turn-out traffic flow.
However, Chris Ooten, Weigel’s real estate director, said only allowing right turns into and out of the store would kill the project.
“That takes convenience out of convenience store,” he told planning commissioners.
Ooten said he is hopeful that a traffic study will help resolve the traffic flow problem.
Ooten also addressed a concern raised by Woodland neighborhood resident Joy Henderson, who said the store could be open all the time, with lots of lights and traffic.
Ooten said the Oak Ridge Weigel’s would not be open all the time. He said a typical Weigel’s store is open from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Voting to recommend the rezoning to Oak Ridge City Council were Planning Commission Chair Terry C. Domm, Vice Chair Kelly S. Callison, and commissioners Chuck Agle, Charlie Hensley, Austin E. Lance, Claudia Lever, and Patrick E. McMillan.
Voting against it were commissioners Lauren R. Biloski, Linda L. Brown, and Jane L. Shelton. Brown said the traffic concern was her only concern.
City Council is expected to consider the rezoning in the first of two readings during a Sept. 10 meeting. City officials expect a traffic impact study to be presented to Council, which will likely also want a recommendation from the Oak Ridge Traffic Safety Advisory Board.
Ooten said the new Weigel’s store would have eight multiple pumps, or 16 pumps total.
The gas station would be on land owned by Shailesh Patel, who once proposed building a hotel there.