City OKs Kum & Go rezoning

Mona Gilman rushed out of the Craig City Council Chambers after learning that she may have a new neighbor in the future.

"I'm the lucky one that's going to have to buy blackout curtains," she said. "I can't believe this."

The council voted 4-2 in favor of allowing the rezoning of 5 1/2 lots from residential to commercial. Rezoning those lots could allow for the replacement and expansion of the current Kum & Go facility at Ninth Street and Yampa Avenue.

Gilman was one of a handful of Craig residents who came to Tuesday's City Hall meeting to express their concerns about the possible rezoning.

Niki DePhillips, a real estate manager for Kum & Go, and Marcia DeWall, a district supervisor, presented why the company hopes to build a new convenience store. They said that the plan was to expand the number of pumps, underground storage, parking lot and store.

According to their presentation, the current store is deteriorating and needs major improvements. The women also said that the renovations would decrease congestion in the lot, better accommodate traffic along the streets and move the store farther away from Craig Middle School and Craig Intermediate School.

Opponents of the rezoning presented a petition with 131 signatures and letters to the council before the meeting. Five residents presented why they didn't approve of the rezoning.

Gilman and others argued that the expansion of the 24-hour convenience store would add to the noise and light pollution in the area, worsen safety around two schools -- all three local Kum & Gos were cited for selling alcohol to minors -- and take away privacy from the residents surrounding the store. And, they said, it would add to an already congested traffic area.

North Kum & Go store manager Leslie Self explained that there were no plans to "target new people" or make it more crowded, the idea was to make the store more of a convenience.

Chris Nichols, who owns property near the proposed site, questioned the impact of the new store.

"They say that it won't increase traffic in the area, but why would they be expanding if they didn't expect an increase?" he said. "Just like any business, they are expecting a (return on investment)."

Nichols went on to say, "It's a great plan but in the wrong location."

After the public discussion, the council members made their own points.

Joe Herod said: "When I joined the council, I wanted to make a better Craig. ... To better Craig, we need to improve on and bring new businesses."

He also said the petition that was signed had false information and was misleading.

Council member Kent Nielson pointed out that the vote on Tuesday night was to allow for the zone change only.

"(Kum & Go) has a long way to go after the zone change," he said.

The Kum & Go officials agreed that they didn't have complete plans for the area because they hadn't been given zoning rights yet.

Council member Tom Gil--christ said he agreed with Nichols because the store is in the wrong location -- near two schools.

Craig Mayor Don Jones said he had talked to Moffat County School District Superintendent Pete Bergmann about the change, and that Bergmann said the district's stance was that the new facility wouldn't make a difference to the schools.

Gilchrist and Bill Johnston were the two dissenting votes in the 4-2 tally. Council member Byron Willems was absent from the meeting.

Advocates seeks help

Pat Tessmer, director of Advo--cates -- Crisis Support Services, asked the council for funding to help provide a local safe house for victims of crime and abuse. Tessmer said that the Moffat County Board of Commissioners had voted to provide Advocates with a facility, but that there would be a need for additional funding.

The issue was tabled because councilors agreed that they needed more information on the subject. Tessmer said that she would be more comfortable discussing anything further in a "not so public forum" to protect the location of the safe house.

The city attorney, after researching the subject, said an executive session could be held in the future to allow Tessmer to give more information about the house.

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