Planning Commission denies expansion

 

Last updated 7/18/2023 at 10:05am



With a unanimous vote at their July 13 public hearing, all seven members of the Sisters Planning Commission agreed to deny the Space Age application to redevelop their gas station at 411 W. Cascade Ave.

The commissioners agreed with City staff, who had recommended denial of the application based on the incompatibility of the proposed station with the surrounding businesses and neighborhoods. They cited the size of the convenience store at 3,500 square feet, and the size and height of the canopy, plus the amount of asphalt surrounding the proposed station.

In his condensed staff report, Principal Planner Matthew Martin stated he had originally miscalculated the canopy square footage at 4,300 sq. ft., believing a dotted line on the canopy drawing indicated an overhang, which it did not. The actual canopy size for 16 fueling points is 3,240 square feet.

Mike Conner, attorney for Pliska Investments, owner of the current Space Age gas station, mentioned in his remarks that they might consider reducing the number of fueling points to 12, the minimum number they could accept. Anything less, according to Conner, is not financially feasible. With 12 fuel points, the canopy would be 30 feet wide and 81 feet long as opposed to 30 feet by 108 feet in the original proposal. The design would remain the same and the convenience store would still be 3,500 square feet.

Connor summarized the benefits he believes the redevelopment would provide. An existing aged station would be replaced with a better design and more amenities (including an ADA restroom). Aging infrastructure, including fuel tanks, would be replaced. Provision would be made for future electric vehicle charging stations with upgrades to the electric power. With the removal of one access point on Pine Street, the access spacing at the station would be closer to being compliant with City code.

Conner estimated the City would receive financial benefits of $50,000 in system development charges and $190,000 in traffic impact fees.

During the hearing testimony, five local citizens spoke in support of the redevelopment, including the owner of C & C Nursery, an employee of Richard’s Farm Stand, and the current franchisee who runs the Space Age station. C & C Nursery and Richard’s Produce currently conduct their businesses on portions of the Space Age property.

Testimony opposing the redevelopment (12 citizens) fell along similar lines with familiar concerns: a possibly flawed traffic study (an assertion rebutted by Joe Bessman, City traffic engineer), traffic congestion and safety issues, air pollution, and incompatibility.

Following public testimony, Pliska’s attorney rebutted a statement made by an opponent, saying there are “no plans for fast food” inside the proposed convenience store.

During the Commission’s deliberation, chairman Jeff Seymour reluctantly used the analogy, “It’s difficult to define pornography, but you know it when you see it.” He stated that if the proposed redevelopment was scaled down, it would probably “be a shoo-in” for approval.

Following the meeting, Jim Pliska was asked for a statement regarding the outcome of the hearing. His response was, “I don’t want to talk to you guys.” One of his party then said, “We have no comment at this time.”

Community Development Director Scott Woodford told The Nugget that he thinks there will probably be an appeal of the decision.

 

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