Conditional use permit for gas station approved 6-1
By Andrea Earnest | Sentinel Staff
Almost 200 Shorewood residents turned out to Tuesday evening’s village board meeting for the second reading of an ordinance granting a conditional use permit for a planned unit development on Route 52 and River Road.
Despite resident opposition to the construction of a Lenny’s Gas N’ Wash at the southeast corner of the intersection, the board approved the permit with a 6-1 vote. The planned development would include fueling canopy and pumps, a car wash and convenience store. A drive-thru Dunkin’ Donuts is also included in the project.
The lone “no” vote came from trustee Stevan Brockman, who had declared his opposition to the project at the board’s June 23 meeting. Trustees Daniel Anderson, Barbara Kirkland, Anthony Luciano, Edmund Murphy and Daniel Warren voted in favor of the conditional use permit.
Mayor Rick Chapman also voted “yes” to the project, after asking Village Clerk Tracy Ragusa to call him into the vote.
Board members told residents the decision was not something they took lightly, but some residents were still upset with the proposed development and had many brought their concerns before the board.
Lona Jakaitis, who had gathered 560 resident signatures for the June 23 board meeting, presented the village board with 358 more signatures from residents opposed to the gas station development.
Some residents took to Facebook to express their opinion about the proposal, including Jakaitis. She created the Facebook group “Stop Lenny’s Gas N’ Wash – Shorewood,” which had 234 members as of Wednesday. Another Facebook group, “Say YES to Lenny’s Gas And Wash – Shorewood,” collected 347 members.
During the citizens comment portion of the meeting, Jakaitis also referenced a Facebook post Mayor Chapman shared prior to the meeting. Chapman’s Facebook profile shared various statuses about the project, which appeared to respond to the outrage being expressed by some residents. A post from June 26 read, “For God’s sake it’s a gas station not a nuclear launch site.”
Jakaitis responded to the comment during the meeting, saying Shorewood residents “deserve something more than another gas station as the gateway to our beautiful town center.”
Lori Lakota, another resident who opposed the plan, said a conditional use permit must fulfill three criteria before it can be granted. She explained that the board must make sure the permit will not be a detriment to or endanger public safety or health, damage other property in the area, or impair property values.
“If you grant this permit, you are not following the guidelines…,” Lakota said. “There is no need for a gas station, car wash, liquor store and 18-bay vacuum area on this corner.”
While many residents at the meeting were opposed to the development, there were some residents who supported the plan.
Terry Barry said new businesses are the price of progress. When he moved to the village, the 55-year Shorewood resident said his back yard was a cornfield but noted that it too was developed. He thinks that a gas station will generate revenue and help the town grow.
Cynthia Nyla, a resident of Shorewood, agreed.
“Lenny’s Gas N’ Wash buildings are beautiful,” Nyla said, adding that she doesn’t think there are currently enough gas stations in Shorewood.
Some residents who opposed the project said they weren’t opposed to a Lenny’s Gas N’ Wash in Shorewood, but added that they didn’t want a gas station on this corner, especially near residential areas.
“It’s not that we are necessarily opposed to a gas station; it’s just at that corner,” resident Amy Conan said. “When you go to other towns and see gas stations, they’re not backed up to residential areas.”
Still, the village made several changes to the project after hearing the concerns of residents. Chapman said the car wash will shut down at 10 p.m., the roadways behind the station are for delivery trucks only and alcohol sales will not be allowed 24/7.
The development also will include a Dunkin’ Donuts location, which will be open around the clock. Chapman said this was because workers would have to be there early to prepare food for the next business day.
Several board members shared statements before casting their votes, including Kirkland who explained that she wanted to be sure she heard from many residents throughout the village.
“Other suggested businesses, while they may be good ideas, they’re not interested in coming to Shorewood,” Kirkland added, referring to residents who asked whether a different business couldn’t be built on the property.
She said the gas station would be a good addition to the village and it was a needed service in the town. Construction and completion dates are unknown at this time.