The Oak Ridge City Council will consider a property rezoning tonight that could allow a Weigel’s on South Illinois Avenue.
The rezoning would allow the proposed gas station and convenience store on a 1.5-acre parcel south of TNBank. The 3,900-square-foot store could open by 2013.
The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission recommended the rezoning in a 7-3 vote last month, but some city officials said they had concerns about cars turning left off South Illinois Avenue to enter the gas station and turning left to get back onto the busy roadway.
South Illinois Avenue is used by more than 37,000 vehicles per day, and a city staff review said the Weigel’s could generate more than 200 vehicle trips during peak morning and evening traffic periods as well as heavy traffic throughout the day.
“The proximity to the Rutgers Avenue intersection and the new red light installation for Woodland Town Center will cause difficulty with making left turns in and out of the property,” the review said. Woodland Town Center is a development that is under construction just south of the proposed Weigel’s, and it will include a relocated, expanded Panera Bread and an Aubrey’s restaurant.
During the Aug. 23 Planning Commission meeting, Oak Ridge City Engineer Steve Byrd said he would support a right-turn-in, right-turn-out traffic flow to and from Weigel’s. However, Weigel’s real estate director Chris Ooten said only allowing right turns into and out of the store would kill the project.
Oak Ridge officials expect the developers to provide a traffic impact study that will be reviewed by Byrd. A recommendation is also expected from the Oak Ridge Traffic Safety Advisory Board before City Council considers the rezoning on second and final reading in October.
Ooten said he is hopeful that the traffic study will help resolve the traffic flow problem.
The gas station would be on land owned by Shailesh Patel, who once proposed building a hotel there.
Tonight’s Oak Ridge City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Building Courtroom.