Subscribe for 17¢ / day

The agony was apparent once the LeClaire City Council voted Monday night.

For months, residents near the intersection of Cody and Eagle Ridge roads feared that the city would green-light a change to the comprehensive plan and rezone a prospective site for a new Kwik Star convenience store and gas station.

Despite more than 75 residents turning out Monday night to protest the proposed development, the LeClaire City Council unanimously approved a resolution to amend the comprehensive plan and the first reading of an ordinance to rezone the property.

"We went through hours of knocking on doors, asking questions, doing research, seeing all of what this company proposed doing," resident David Griffith said. "It became apparent they did not care what they did to our neighborhood, what they did to our citizens."

Kwik Star had applied for revision of the comprehensive plan and to rezone a 3.3-acre property from R-1, low-density residential, to C-3, high-density commercial so it can construct a convenience store and gas station.

Initially, the plans called for a store larger than 7,000-square feet, but the proposal was scaled back to 5,700-square feet on Feb. 8 after a new site plan was submitted.

The new plan, however, did not alter designs for 16 gas pumps, which would effectively double the number in the city, and a 30-foot tall illuminated logo sign.

The majority of property owners near the site have centered their opposition to the project around traffic and public safety concerns as well as fear that their property values will decline.

While Kwik Star's traffic study found that the location met the level of service requirements, a consultant, John Lonergan, was hired by a group of LeClaire residents found the study to have faults.

Leo Foley, an engineer with Veenstra & Kimm Inc., however, expressed support for the study and said he wouldn't change anything about it.

The city's Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-3 not to recommend the amendment and rezoning during its Jan. 11 meeting, which meant the City Council will need a supermajority to pass the rezoning.

While the proposed development is opposed by the vast majority of the 17 homeowners within 200 feet, Jeff Rose said a large contingent of LeClaire residents agree that it is the wrong location for the gas station.

Rose said that 10 percent of LeClaire turned out to vote on Nov. 7, which nearly equaled the number of people reached who signed petitions opposing the development.

"One hundred percent of that nine percent are against changing the comprehensive plan," Rose said. "100 percent of that nine percent are against rezoning that property."

Three separate neighborhoods, Eagle View Heights, Pebble Creek and Bridgview, were also strongly against the development, attorney Mike Meloy said.

After speaker after speaker voiced their concerns again, Cheryl Allbee and Barb Ritter from the commission also petitioned the council to listen to its constituents.

"The P&Z board has said no to this, but yet they keep coming back and saying 'Please, please , please,'" Allbee said. "Final word was no, and it needs to be that way."

Despite the vast majority of attendees against the development, Mayor Ray Allen voiced his support for the project and downplayed the impact and concerns of residents.

"I think everybody will be doing it because it's in the best interest of the city," Allen said. "(...) The other criteria was that I had to believe the effect on the residents would be minimal. I knew I wouldn't get a lot of people to agree, but I really do feel that way."