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Altoona Plan Commission advises altering convenience store project

Monday, November 12, 2018
Julian Emerson | Leader-Telegram

ALTOONA - A Casey's General Store could be built next year on Altoona's south side, but a car wash that was proposed to accompany it apparently will not be part of the project.

The Altoona Plan Commission voted Monday to recommend construction of a convenience store to be built by the Iowa-based company. That recommendation includes various conditions to reduce the impact of the development on nearby residents who live in Hillcrest Greens.

apparently will not be part of the project.

The Altoona Plan Commission voted Monday to recommend construction of a convenience store to be built by the Iowa-based company. That recommendation includes various conditions to reduce the impact of the development on nearby residents who live in Hillcrest Greens.

The Altoona City Council still must approve the project. The council is scheduled to discuss the matter Thursday, Nov. 29.

If approved, the convenience store, a Rooney Properties project, would be built next year. Before that can happen, storm-water runoff related to the proposal must be approved by the state Department of Natural Resources.

While many neighbors back eliminating the car wash, they are upset the convenience store/gas station seems likely to be built. Several spoke against the project during Monday's meeting, saying it would lower their property values and pose danger to water.

Storm-water detention ponds at the site along U.S. 12 were designed for low-impact use and not a gas station, Hillcrest Greens residents said. The site where a Casey's store could be built was originally designated as a shopping center site, neighborhood resident Jerry Southworth told an audience of about 25.

"A shopping center fits our neighborhood," he said. "A gas station doesn't."

Neighbor Gabe Otterson expressed a different view, saying he and others support the plan.

"It does fit for what's allowed in that area," he said of the Casey's store.

Plan Commission members acknowledged concerns about the project but ultimately recommended the City Council approve it. The commission previously voted against the project twice after hearing neighbors' concerns. Last month the City Council voted to send the proposal back to the commission with instructions to try to negotiate a settlement.

The commission subsequently established a six-member committee consisting of city officials to work out terms that would allow the project to proceed. Among the terms reached was no car wash.

Other agreement stipulations include landscaping to screen the convenience store from surrounding homes and restricting operating hours from 5 a.m. to midnight.

The city received legal advice that simply denying the project may have resulted in a lawsuit by the developer, based on state legislation that supports the right of developers to build if they meet local standards.

"This process starts with the basis with the presumed right of the developer based on state law, so it is a matter of mitigating the impacts to the extent that is reasonable," Altoona City Administrator Mike Golat said.

Contact: 715-830-5911, julian.emerson@ecpc.com

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