By Linda Collins
For the Herald
ENON — Speedway LLC is one step closer to expanding its Speedway station at 62 E. Main St. in Enon after the Village of Enon Zoning Board of Appeals approved a 29-foot variance that will allow a 4,600-square-foot convenience store to be constructed on the site.
The public hearing, which was held on Thursday, Feb. 4, drew a large crowd of concerned village residents, as well as five village council members.
The board unanimously approved the conditional use of the property that will allow the expansion of the Speedway Gas station which will include the existing property at 62 E. Main St. and properties at 100 and 160 E. Main St., as well as the soon-to-be vacated Pleasant Street.
In a 4-1 vote, the board approved Speedway’s request for the southern corner of the proposed convenience store to be located 21 feet from the right-of-way, requiring a 29-foot variance. The village’s zoning code mandates that all properties zoned downtown district have at least a 50-foot setback from the right-of-way line of any existing or proposed street. However, the proposed orientation of the convenience store is necessary to maximize the most efficient use of the property, according to Jonathan Wocher, a LEED Green Associate and principal at McBride Dale Clarion Architecture and Planning in Cincinnati.
Wocher, who represented Speedway LLC at the public hearing, told the board prior to their vote that the current configuration of the site would provide an improved parking layout, more parking spaces, an increased number of fueling pumps, improved traffic flow and an improved truck route for refueling trucks. He noted that several buildings in the vicinity, including the existing Speedway building, are located less than 35 feet from the right-of-way of a major thoroughfare.
“This variance will provide improved on-site circulation and access and expanded services,” Wocher said. “The building setback variance is only for a small portion of the store. Today, the existing store is only four feet away from Enon-Xenia Drive.”
However board member Jennifer Hawks suggested changing the orientation of the convenience store on the proposed construction site or scaling down the size of the building in order for Speedway LLC to be in compliance with the village’s setback code.
“If the board approves this variance, then other businesses will expect the same consideration,” said Hawks, who casted the dissenting vote. “We expected Rite Aid to comply with village codes when they built the new drug store. We should expect the same from Speedway.”
Yet, Wocher explained that changing the angle of the store would reduce the size of the parking layout and therefore, the number of parking places, and decrease traffic flow and efficient routing for onsite traffic.
“Also, Speedway would not be able to provide all the amenities the company is planning to have for its customers if we were to reduce the size of the convenience store,” said Wocher.
The village and Speedway previously reached an agreement regarding Speedway’s request to allow a 166-square-foot freestanding sign. According to Enon Village Administrator Benjamin Ross, Speedway has agreed to have a 22.4-foot-high goal post sign at the intersection of East Main Street and Enon-Xenia Drive with an area of 99 square feet per side. However, Speedway requested a second variance to allow eight signs on the property, resulting in a gross sign area totaling 321.14 square feet.
“Speedway proposes to erect four signs on the fueling island canopy and three signs on the store, as well as the goal post sign,” Ross said.
Enon Codified Ordinance 1173.03 states that no more than one sign shall be provided for each business use, and in no case shall a lot contain more than three signs. In addition, no business or industry shall maintain a gross sign area exceeding 300 square feet on the premises.
“The board needs to take into consideration that the village regards the two-sided goal post sign as two signs,” Wocher noted. We are going from a .4-acre lot to a 2-acre lot size and can accommodate more signs.”
Board President Francis (Bud) Baker motioned to modify Speedway’s variance request for additional signage by reducing the number of signs allowed on the premises to five signs rather than eight signs. The zoning board of appeals approved Baker’s motion to amend Speedway’s request by a 4-1 vote, with board member John Downs casting the dissenting vote.
“I think the zoning board of appeals should first vote on Speedway’s original request to erect eight signs, resulting in a gross sign area of 321.14 square feet,” Downs said.
Following the vote, Wocher said Speedway would reexamine the construction plans and make the necessary revisions.
During comments from the floor, village resident Ned Clark asked Wocher if the gas station would provide fueling bays for semi-trucks, but Wocher said it would not.
Resident Jon Vanderglas, who owns property on the 100 block of North Xenia Drive, pointed out that he and other residents who live near the gas station currently contend with excess trash from the station that pollutes their properties. He also noted that the current lighting mounted around the station causes glare and light pollution. Any additional lighting, planned for the new expanded site, would create a bigger problem for local residents.
However, Wocher stated that Speedway would be installing recess lighting with LED lights that would be an upgrade to what the station currently has and a solution to the existing problem.
Long-time village resident John Brown asked Wocher why Speedway had to erect the number of signs proposed in the construction plans, complaining that eight signs seem to be more than what he considered necessary. Wocher explained that the signs were attractive and would be placed in a way that would enhance the overall appearance of the gas station.
“These signs must meet the design standards this company is used to,” said Wocher. “If you look at the signs at the Rite Aid Pharmacy, you will note that there are five signs at that site.”
Enon resident Harry Madden expressed his concerns about the flow of traffic in the area if Speedway was to expand the current business site, and another resident reminded board members to consider the fact that the majority of village residents want to maintain the small, hometown atmosphere of the village.