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Bi-State store project approved by Cape council

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

A proposed convenience store will be built at Sprigg and Highway 74 despite opposition from some neighbors who said it would create traffic, crime and alcohol problems.

The Cape Girardeau City Council voted 6-1 Monday night to approve plans by Clila LP to build a Bi-State Southern convenience store and gas station on the southeast corner of the intersection near the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge. Councilman Charlie Herbst voted against the project, saying he felt it was his duty to represent the wishes of residents in his ward.

In approving the project, the council agreed to issue a special use permit and rezone property from residential to commercial.

In issuing a special use permit, the council said it would require the developer to pay the cost of restriping part of southbound Sprigg Street to provide a left turn lane so customers can safely turn into the convenience store. The store will have two entrances, both facing Sprigg Street, Bi-State Southern owner Scott Blank said.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to ban concealed firearms in all city owned and operated buildings.

The council ordered the Planning and Zoning Commission to take another look at a request by Curtis and Carol Greer for a special use permit to operate a wholesale and retail gourmet coffee business out of their home on Edgewood Drive. The Planning and Zoning Commission previously had turned it down, but council members said the Greers were willing to abide by new restrictions, including one that would require them to pick up their merchandise rather than have it delivered to their home.

Several Edgewood Drive residents objected to the proposed business, saying it would undermine the residential character of the neighborhood.

As to the convenience store, Blank said the project is a multi-million dollar development that will improve the neighborhood and generate additional tax revenue for the city. "I feel this project is a win for the city, a win for the residents, a win for everybody," he told the council.

Blank said the 4,000-square-foot convenience store would be manned from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Customers will be able to pump gas at other hours by using credit cards.

Both Blank and city officials said they don't believe the development would create a traffic problem.

Some residents disagreed. "It will be more of a problem getting out of Maple Street," said Patsy Langston who lives at 703 S. Sprigg, not far from the proposed development.

Langston said traffic already is heavy on South Sprigg Street. City officials said 9,500 vehicles go through the Sprigg and Maple intersection every day.

Mayor Jay Knudtson suggested increased traffic may be "just the price of development."

Mary Skelton of 635 S. Sprigg said a convenience store would cause increased vehicular and foot traffic and lead to more disturbance calls to police. Skelton told the council it would add to the problems of under-age drinking and smoking.

Eldon Nattier, co-owner of the Rose Bed Inn, said the proposed development across the street from his business would cause a "dangerous" traffic bottleneck.

Karla Mize, who attends the Cape Church of God on South Ellis, said the proposed development will add to the drinking problem on the city's south side where beer bottles and whiskey bottles often litter the ground.

The Rev. John Goff, pastor of the church, said he's opposed to having a business in his neighborhood that would sell alcoholic beverages. "We do clean up a lot of whiskey bottles from our yard," he said.

But the Rev. William Bird of Greater Dimension Church in south Cape Girardeau said the proposed convenience store and gas station is needed in a neighborhood that has few businesses. A well-lit business is needed in the neighborhood, he said.

Gaye Blank said her family runs "a very clean operation" at the Bi-State store on Morgan Oak Street and that the new convenience store won't be any different.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123


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