Fort Mill QuikTrip fuels residents’ anger

joverman@fortmilltimes.comNovember 12, 2012 

— A QuikTrip convenience store and gas station planned for the corner of Sutton Road and Hwy. 160 West is raising the ire of some residents.

Their concern has sparked a Facebook page, “No QuikTrip for Fort Mill,” and a petition that has already gained nearly 300 signatures. Paige Williams, a Fort Mill resident, created both. She worries that the gas station will bring more traffic to an intersection that is “already congested enough,” she said.

“The lot is small. The intersection is already congested enough. All of [Hwy] 160 is already congested. There are at least two convenience stores in a half a mile of that location,” Williams said.

The property is next door to Philadelphia United Methodist Church.

Baxter resident Teresa MacPherson lives near the property, behind the church. At night, she can see the steeple of the church lit up, she said. If the gas station is built, she wonders if her nighttime view will become the glare of gas station lighting.

The property QuikTrip is eyeing is owned by Clear Springs Development, but is not part of the company’s Baxter Village community, according to Marketing and Sales Director Kerri Robusto.

Its proximity to Baxter is still a concern for many of its residents, however.

“When they make the pretty pictures of Baxter, this isn’t what I expected,” MacPherson said. “I’m worried about noise. I’m worried about light. I’m worried about speeders. All of that will increase and why? We already have gas stations.”

Robusto said that the property has been owned by Clear Springs for more than a decade and has always been zoned to allow businesses such as a convenience store, daycare, hotel or other commercial use.

Because of the proximity to a church, a restaurant with alcohol would not be possible, she added.

"Given the available options, we believe a convenience store is a very good use for this corner– particularly QuikTrip,” Robusto said. “QuikTrip is far and away the best convenience store in the market.  The stores are full brick with attractive architecture, good core values and have a history of giving back to their community.”

Offer rejected

Clear Springs has requested a variance to allow QuikTrip to reduce the required 40 foot buffer along Sutton Road, a matter that will be decided at a Dec. 13 York County Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

The goal of the petition and Facebook page, Williams said, is to delay that decision long enough to hopefully get Clear Springs to reconsider selling the property to QuikTrip. She’d like to see it donated or sold to the church next door.

That’s something church leaders would like to happen, too.

Brad Little, Chairperson for the Philadelphia United Methodist Church Board of Trustees, said the church offered to buy the property from Clear Springs in September, at a price that was below market value.

“We asked Clear Springs to consider that offer and they rejected our offer,” he said.

Buying the property was something that was always one of many things on a list of capital improvement priorities to accommodate church growth, Little said. Because of the property’s prime location, it was out of the church’s price range, he said.

In addition to Sunday services, the church has a five day a week preschool program, Boy and Girl Scouts, as well as other community programs throughout the week.

“We have no fewer than 1,000 different people using our facility on a weekly basis,” Little said.

If QuikTrip is built, traffic is a concern, Little said, as well as the safety of “our small children, our youth and our seniors.”

Church leaders are working with Clear Springs and QuikTrip to address the traffic and safety issues, he said.

“We are by no means going to be ‘open arms’ regardless of what they’re able to do for us, but they’re offering to do things to mitigate our concerns and address them,” he said.

He still has hope that the corner of Sutton and Hwy. 160 could one day be part of Philadelphia United Methodist Church.

“As people of faith, we know God has a plan for how this is going to work out,” Little said. “If it works out that we have a neighbor like QuikTrip, we’ll be good neighbors regardless of who it is but if it’s in his plan for us to someday own that piece, that would bring joy to a lot of our members.”

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