St. Cloud OKs residential gas station, member asks ‘are we too lazy?’
Aug 14, 2009 at 10:15 AM
By Juliana A. Torres
The St. Cloud City Council voted Thursday to allow convenience stores with gas pumps within residential business areas, allowing an establishment at the northeast corner of New Nolte and Old Canoe Creek roads.
The change to the land development code will now allow the gas pumps within areas zoned “neighborhood business” zoning districts only if they fit within the architectural character of the neighborhood and only with approval from the council. Ron Howse, of Real Deal Development, requested the change to allow him to develop the property at the west end of New Nolte Road that’s currently pastureland.
Councilman Jarom Fertic cast the sole dissenting vote of the proposal.
“How many gas stations do we need in St. Cloud? Especially in neighborhoods, are we too lazy to drive to the main thoroughfare?” he questioned. “Driving through St. Cloud, I see five that are out of business, with tanks still out of the ground. So, we’re going to have those in neighborhoods?”
The change to the district doesn’t give a blanket approval to all convenience store with gas pumps proposed for the district. Each developer would have to apply to for approval from the council, who can impose whatever conditions they like and even turn down a project if they decide that it ultimately doesn’t fit in.
On a base level, developers would have to comply with the neighborhood business district’s landscaping requirements, among other things, and submit and artist’s rendering of what the completed store would look like. The goal is to make the convenience stores blend in with the surrounding neighborhood as much as possible.
“We worked with your staff. We tried to design these changes to benefit the city,” said Michael Joachim of MJA Consulting, representing the applicant.
Howse said the change would not allow “super-pumpers” like Hess or Racetrac to be built. Stores like 7-Eleven look for more neighborhood-like corners to build because they make more money off things like coffee rather than gas, he said.
Councilman Jay Polchek said that Old Canoe Creek Road was much more of a connector road, traveled by commuters, anyway.
“I don’t have a problem with this particularly, as long as we have some control,” he said.
Other members voiced similar opinions.
The district already allows convenience stores without gas pumps. A gas station on the west side of Old Canoe Creek Road, across the street from the property that will benefit from the change to the neighborhood business district, has already been built, but is county property.
Aside from the site on New Nolte Road, only a handful of blocks in the city are zoned neighborhood business zoning districts. They are at the intersection of Neptune Road and Ponderosa Drive, near the intersection of Neptune Road and Monroe Avenue, near the Kissimmee Park Florida's Turnpike overpass, at the intersection of Deer Run and Old Canoe Creek Road and near intersection of Narcoossee Road and U.S. Highway 192.
In other business, the council also approved the termination of a contract with Universal Service, which was hired to remove and dispose an estimated 275 tons of grit and other debris that accumulated in the old treatment tanks at the Lakeshore Wastewater Treatment Facility, as part of its demolition. The city’s own solid waste division will handle hauling the rest of the grit still left in the largest treatment tank at a cheaper rate than Universal Service wanted to charge.
The conflict with the Tennessee-based industrial cleaning company arose because city staff estimated only about half of what actually needed to be removed from the tanks. The city’s contract with Universal Service included a base amount of about $36,000 for the removal of the grit plus a disposal rate of $40 per ton of grit to haul it to a landfill.
Work stopped at the facility because the completed project was going to cost more than the $57,000 contingency amount approved by council. The company has already hauled out 350 tons of grit and wanted to charge the city a higher removal charge because of the difference between the estimated and actual amount of grit.
Universal Service would charge at least an extra $24,000 to finish the job, city officials said. But Solid Waste Superintendent Ernie McDaniel said his division could finish the project in 30 hours of staff time and at an estimated cost of $10,000. The council will decide the amount Universal Service should be paid based on the work the company completed during their next meeting.
The grand opening of the newly-expanded Southside Wastewater Treatment Facility, which will replace the old facility on Lakeshore, is scheduled for Aug. 29.
Contact Staff Writer Juliana A. Torres at