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Permit approved for new Howard convenience store

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – A conditional use permit to develop a 3.8-acre, triangle-shaped property at the intersection of Shawano Avenue, Woodland Road and Sherwood Street into a convenience store/gas station with rental units, a fuel island and a car wash was approved July 26 by the village board.

Bayland Buildings requested the permit on behalf of Chuck Panure.

It was approved with the following seven conditions:

• All building walls exceeding 50 feet in length must be broken or staggered. The building elevations need to provide a break to be consistent with building architecture and style regulations. The car wash elevations must be similar to the principal structure, and all walls more than 50 feet must have the same considerations as the main convenience store building, including more windows, architectural features, and different materials and colors, and staggered building points.

• A detailed lighting plan needs to be submitted. All light must remain on site.

• All mechanical equipment shall be screened from public view.

• All landscaping must be completed according to the landscape plan submitted with recommendations from the village forester.

• A storm water management plan must be submitted to and approved by the village engineer prior to issuance of building permits.

• Outside storage must be limited to an ice machine and propane exchange sales.

• The convenience store will be allowed to be open 24 hours. The hours of operation for the car wash will be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

An eighth condition the Plan Commission recommended a week earlier at the urging of Village President Burt McIntyre, eliminating a proposed driveway on Woodland Road – one of three entrances or exits for the site – was not included by the board, which favored more than two access points for the property rezoned B-1 Business.

Changes were made to the site layout after the commission tabled the permit last month.

The commission held a public hearing June 21 where it heard from neighbors who objected to a convenience store on the site with the surrounding area being residential.

Community Development Director Dave Wiese said the driveway on Woodland was moved east to meet village code requirements and line up better with a second garage on the residential lot to the south.

Wiese said the project site was shifted north to allow for a larger landscape berm between Woodland and the development.

“It includes moving the car wash a little bit more north, a buffer of trees adjacent to the residential properties, and also the relocation of the storm water pond,” he said. “That whole shift had been kind of more towards Shawano Avenue.”

Wiese said the storm water pond, which was previously planned on the property’s north end, was shifted to the southeast, closer to the cul-de-sac on Woodland.

Jared Schmidt, a civil/municipal engineering manager with Robert E. Lee & Associates, appeared before the board and urged inclusion of the access point on Woodland.

Schmidt said the driveway connecting with Woodland is important from an operational standpoint when people leave the site.

“It’s not so much (used) from folks originating from the highway going north and into the station, because we think a majority of those folks will actually enter in off of Sherwood,” he said. “They’ll make a right-hand directly into the site, go into the gas station or go into the fueling pumps, and that’s going to be the primary entrance. Where that (Woodland) access is important is when folks are leaving. They’re leaving back to the highway.”

Schmidt said traffic would be well-distributed with three access points to the site, while reducing them to two by eliminating the one on Woodland would “create a lot of confusion for the users,” such as motorists south on Sherwood – where a median separates the north and south lanes – making U-turns to get into the station.

“It’s going to create a lot of challenges for the operation of the development, and the potential buyer has significant concerns about this limiting the opportunity – the options for this to be a successful site,” he said. “I think location-wise it’s great. It’s bisected by two county highways. That’s exactly where we’re supposed to put higher-traffic generators or higher users similar to this. That’s why it’s a great location.”

The property is also near the State Highway 29 and County F interchange.

Within the community, Schmidt said there may not be a better vacant location for the convenience store/gas station than this one until the State Highway 29/County VV diamond interchange is completed to the west.

“One may argue that (State Highway 29/County VV interchange) may not be as good, at least for the time being,” he said. “There’s a lot of residents here. There’s a lot of folks that could use this service. It would be a really good opportunity.”

Schmidt said an estimated 30 to 40 vehicles an hour, which could use the Woodland access point, would enter and exit the site in a peak hour.

“When we look at it from a traffic generation standpoint, if you’re talking 30 or 40 cars in that amount of time, when we equate that to single-family (housing) today – for example, if this was an undeveloped end of a cul-de-sac that could have 10 or 20 or 30 homes – that’s the equivalent amount of traffic of what we’re talking of what that entrance may generate,” he said. “It’s a very small and limited amount of traffic, considering that road is very short in nature and doesn’t have a lot of users right now.”

Schmidt said eliminating the access point on Woodland would hinder the site more than benefit the traffic concerns.

Public Works Director Geoff Farr said he also wouldn’t want to see traffic of Sherwood doing U-turns to access the site.

“Basically, by having this additional driveway (on Woodland), you’re eliminating the concern about U-turns and reducing the amount of time that the cars can cross Sherwood,” he said. “In that regard, it’s really a health and a safety issue there to improve the performance of the intersection.”

Trustee Craig McAllister said it make senses to funnel more traffic toward the intersection of Sherwood and Woodland, because in the event of overuse with future growth, a roundabout or another type of traffic control could be placed there.

“If it’s not funneled to that intersection, then you can’t use that as a feature then,” he said. “I feel that adding the third driveway (on Woodland) might be something that improves safety in the future with the increased traffic.”

McIntyre said he tended to agree with McAllister, though he is still very concerned about the amount of traffic in the area.

“I’ve driven that intersection several times now, and I’ve had some interesting moments getting across there,” McIntyre said. “There’s certain times of the day when that’s nuts. We’ve got a lot of traffic coming from the north going south, obviously in the morning, and in reverse, and it does get very hairy at times.”

If the village is able to do what is necessary to maintain the intersection’s safety, McIntyre said he would also support access to the convenience store/gas station on Woodland.

“I’m changing my mind,” he said.

Wiese said the project would have to come back before the commission for site plan review prior to final approval.

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