Braving the wind and icy conditions, residents successfully petitioned the LeClaire Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday to issue a recommendation to reject a Kwik Star proposed for their neighborhood.
The city is considering a revision to its comprehensive plan and rezoning a property at the northeast corner of Cody Road and Eagle Road from R-1, low-density residential, to C-3, high-density commercial.
"I think my responsibility to the citizens of this town is to do what they're asking us to do," Commissioner Barb Ritter said after supporting the rejection.
Kwik Trip Inc. has submitted an application to rezone the property so that it can construct and operate a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week convenience store and gas station on the 3.3-acre property.
Initial plans included 16 gas pumps, which would effectively double the number in the city, and a 30-foot tall illuminated logo sign.
Ten of the property owners within 200 feet of the proposed Kwik Star have hired attorney Mike Meloy to protect their interests.
"This comprehensive plan amendment is a direct breach of the current comprehensive plan and an encroachment into all of my clients and the residents of LeClaire's peaceful enjoyment of their residential properties," Meloy said.
Meloy also sent a letter to the commission Thursday in which he also stated that Kwik Star's plan constitutes spot zoning and would negatively impact residents by decreasing property values while also increasing noise, traffic, lighting and accidents.
Property owner Jeff Rose said the commission received signatures against the Kwik Star plan from 88 percent of the properties within 200 feet.
"We love our neighborhood," Rose said. "We love our neighbors — all of them here and the ones that couldn't make it out here tonight."
Tom Kiefer said that 17 years ago, a McDonald's was being proposed for the same location, but rebuffed because of the same reasons. Since that time, Kiefer said not much has changed.
"What I see is we're going out of our way, bending over backward for something that we all agree will make life difficult," Kiefer said.
Dennis Gendron, the owner of the McDonald's in LeClaire, said that if rezoning were to occur, it should have to benefit and make a difference in the city.
"They're not going to come more often because we have five gas stations instead of four," Gendron said. "By Kwik Trip coming to town, they're going to take gas sales from every one of them."
Before moving to LeClaire, Gendron recalled the impact McDonald's had in small cities such as Savannah, Byron and Morrison, Illinois, which were too small to support that much competition.
"We took business from all the gas stations," Gendron said. "We took business from Dairy Queen and Hardee's. Hardee's is now closed and there's a vacant piece of property there."
While he said he was not against a Kwik Star, Gendron mentioned that the company was based in Wisconsin and the owners would not be part of the community.
Motions to pass recommendations to reject amending to the comprehensive plan, reject rezoning the property and the site development plan all passed by 4-3 votes.
In each vote, commissioners Erika Smith, Cheryl Allbee and Steve Zelle also voted to recommend the rejections to the Council.
Commissioners Ken Motz, Ray Norris and Sarah Theunen all voted in favor of recommending the Kwik Star.
Motz, who participated in the meeting via teleconference, rejected the idea that the Kwik Star would constitute spot zoning, citing the adjacent commercial uses.
"I am optimistic about LeClaire in terms of where it is going and what would happen, "Motz said. "From a personal standpoint, I don't believe this particular development is a detriment to what is going on in the downtown area."
City Administrator Edwin Choate said because of the negative recommendation, the City Council would need a supermajority vote to overturn the recommendation.
The LeClaire City Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 before discussing the subject.