Clipper Petroleum received two special-use and one rezoning approval from the Gainesville City Council Tuesday evening allowing for the construction of a 4,500-square foot convenience store on Thompson Bridge Road at Christopher Drive.
The business will also feature a dozen gasoline pumps where users will be protected from the weather by an overhead canopy.
The approval comes five weeks after the plan was presented to the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board and received a pair of near-unanimous votes recommending denial of the applications.
Clipper Petroleum President and CEO Tom Bower said he was disappointed that evening but determined to make adjustments to the plan in order to gain approval, including addressing the concerns of neighbors who spoke in opposition before the Planning and Appeals Board.
“The main reason (for opposition) was the traffic they thought would be added to Christopher as a cut-through street,” Bower said. As to subsequent conversations he had with neighbors who spoke in opposition to his application at that November meeting, “We had a good conversation with them and they were very reasonable.”
Clipper Petroleum says they plan to close the BP gas station and convenience store across the street once the new store opens, and, according to Gainesville attorney Steve Gilliam who represented Clipper, “…they will restrict (it) so it can’t be used as a convenience store or a gas station. “ Gilliam then read a long list of other business types that would not be allowed to occupy the closed convenience store ranging from adult entertainment centers to tattoo parlors to coin-operated laundromats and hookah lounges.
“In order to compete today we need a bigger facility,” Bower told council members. “QT and RaceTrac build very nice sites but they’re no better than what we will build here.”
Bower added, “What we’re doing here with this project is good for the corridor; it will certainly improve the looks of that area with this facility…and the billboard (will be) gone.” Bower was referring to the giant overhead billboard that now occupies the vacant site.
Mayor Danny Dunagan told Bower, “In order to protect the neighborhood just a little bit more I would like to see us amend condition number three.”
Condition number three requires a 35-foot evergreen planted buffer at the rear of the property. Staff suggested that it could be increased to 50-feet without dramatically changing the site plan.
Clipper agreed to increase the buffer. “If you look at the current landscaping, right now there is no barrier to cutting down on noise or light from Thompson Bridge Road. We’ll plant more trees than are required by the city,” Bower pledged.
The city council approved Clipper’s applications with three unanimous votes. Bower says construction should start in two to three months. “We’ll get on it as quickly as we can.”