RUSSELL — Members of the Board of Zoning Appeals spent several hours on Monday scrutinizing the more than 14 variance requests submitted by Circle K for a new store and gas pumps at the northeast corner of Chillicothe (Route 306) and Kinsman (Route 87) roads.
No decisions were made and the hearing, that ended after 10:30 p.m., is scheduled to be continued on Jan. 7. The hearing was held at Russell Town Hall rather than the meeting room at the Russell Fire Station to accommodate the many residents in attendance. Residents recently voiced objections to the plan, saying there is no need for a gas station in the township. Circle K did respond to some objections by eliminating a car wash from earlier plans.
The Monday session was a continuance of previous meetings on the Circle K application to build a larger store of 4,488 square feet and add gas pumps at the site. Plans call for demolishing the existing convenience store building, an adjacent building formerly used for a veterinarian clinic and a former bank building facing Kinsman Road.
Plans call for the gas pumps to be behind the new store so they are not visible to passers-by on Route 306.
Circle K is seeking zoning variances on four parcels to build the gas station and food service building. The variances involve several matters including a 70-percent lot coverage in lieu of the 40-percent maximum in the zoning code.
On Monday, Russell Fire Chief John Frazier said the current proposal has reduced the fire exposure risk to adjacent structures.
In response to a question from zoning board member William Downing, the chief said that fuel storage containers to be installed underground would be protected from igniting or catching on fire. Practices are state of the art now with shut-off mechanisms in place, he said. “They don’t explode like you see in the movies,” he said.
Questioned about spills of gasoline, Chief Frazier said the fire department would be the initial responders and would contact Hazmat services and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for assistance. The fire department carries foam and can apply it in a timely manner, Chief Frazier said.
Hydrologist Craig Cox, speaking for Circle K, said there appear to be no issues with water capacity. He came to this conclusion after reviewing the Berea sandstone aquifer and the Pottsville aquifer that supply groundwater to this area.
In a question from resident Carl Goodwin on water consumption by the expanded Circle K, Mr. Cox said there are currently three wells on the property and only one will be used. The development would use about 3,500 gallons per day. He said neighbors’ wells will not be impacted.
Tim Ristau, a resident of 40 years, said there was more water taken out of the aquifer when there was a bank, a gas station on the opposite corner, a salon and the Circle K. He said he is not concerned about the draw on the groundwater for the proposed projects.
Robert Wellert, civil engineer representing Circle K, said a preliminary design for storm water control was sent to the Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District.
The discharge would be equal to or less quantity that happens today on the present Circle K site, Mr. Wellert said. The new state regulations are that the discharge has to be made better than it was, or less than what it is now, he said. The storm water would flow over the paved areas and would be collected on site and held in underground pipes and then released. There is sufficient storm water storage, he said.
The lighting plan has been revised and modified, Mr. Wellert said, by adding lights and reducing canopy lighting. Mr. Willert said the brightest lights will be around the parking lot at the front entrance of the building. Lighting will be reduced more at the property line, he said, by projecting fixtures downward with no light going off the property.
Parking will be at the front of the building which faces east onto Route 306 and the north side of the new structure. Sidewalks will be made flush with the pavement.
The driveways planned for off Chillicothe and Kinsman roads are designed to accommodate the fuel delivery trucks, Mr. Wellert said. Circle K is requesting variances for 40-foot driveway widths. Zoning requires a maximum of 30 feet. Circle K is also asking for 90-foot widths for the area where the driveways meet the roads.
The widths proposed are to accommodate vehicle safety, Mr. Wellert said. Negotiating a 30-foot wide driveway would be difficult and a safety issue for the gas fueling vehicles, especially if another vehicle is exiting the driveway at the same time, he said.
He noted that the Ohio Department of Transportation requires a traffic study and if Circle K proceeds with the plan, “we ultimately need approval for the driveways,” Mr. Wellert said. ODOT approval is required.
Township zoning requires a 200-foot road frontages and Circle K is asking for 136.9 feet of frontage on Kinsman Road and 170.32 feet on Chillicothe Road.
Zoning board Chairman Steve Gokorsh said members have to review the details so that years from now, questions won’t be asked why something was done or not done. At the next meeting, they will ask for more information on lighting and signage on the property, he said.