FORT MILL TOWNSHIP — By a 4-2 vote, the new Baxter-area QuikTrip got the make or break approval it needed Thursday to begin business.
More than 50 people turned out at the York County Zoning Board of Appeals meeting in Rock Hill, overwhelmingly in opposition to the QuikTrip convenience store being planned for 974 Sutton Road. The company needed a variance that would allow construction in a mandated 40-foot buffer, which the board granted with conditions.
Residents, largely, weren’t happy.
“It’s out of context,” said Baxter resident Mark Van Sickle. “It’s trying to push too much into this space.”
Van Sickle contends that QuikTrip could build its store, just off Hwy. 160 West, without dipping in the buffer, something company management refutes. Matt Miller, company real estate manager, told the board Thursday that the safety of delivery trucks turning into and passing through the site was at stake.
Without the variance, he said, traffic wouldn’t flow properly.
Miller told the board prior to its decision that the company “absolutely” needed the variance to put any business on-site.
“We can’t do that site without the variance,” he said.
Baxter resident Luann Hundley is a member of Philadelphia UMC just beside the QuikTrip site. Hundley said she doesn’t approve of QuikTrip coming, but understands that the business has a right to be there and believes the deal made with the church not to have common driveways, and for the company to pay for new access to PUMC, is preferable to taking “a chance on next time.”
Waiting on another company would provide “no assurance whatsoever” that a similar deal would be offered,” she said.
“It would only be a matter of time before someone gets hurt,” Hundley said of shared access, “or worse.”
Another Baxter resident, Karen Price, told the board it’s “simply not true” that the company communicated and tried to work with residents on a solution. Price argued that a proposed retaining wall in the buffer along Sutton Road could cost taxpayers later when road widening or improvements require right-of-way acquisition. Price also said the “extraordinary and exceptional” hardship needed to qualify for a variance didn’t apply in this case.
“They are creating their own hardship,” she said.
Miller said the plan largely reflects what Philadelphia asked for in planning with the company and was supplemented by county staff suggestions from community input. Additional requirements were placed on the variance Thursday: A 21-foot height restriction for the canopy is needed, and the retaining wall must be constructed to match surrounding Baxter stone work, something Miller said would cost three times more than a standard structure. Also, access on the Hwy. 160 side must be right-in, right-out only.
“You’re literally asking for and accident” otherwise, board member David Buist said.
The same amount of plantings will be located on site, Miller said, just at a different location than the buffer. Members Buist, Emile Russett, Mike Scott and Andy Smith voted in favor of the variance. Rodney Hicks and Steven Tripi voted against.
Planning Director Dave Pettine said similar variances have been approved in the past. A Circle K in Lake Wylie encroached 19 feet into the 40-foot buffer while another company site further up on Sutton Road in Fort Mill needed 36 of the 40 feet. The approved QuikTrip encroachment is 25 feet.
“They don’t set any precedence,” Pettine said of zoning board decisions. “These kinds of requests have been made in the past.”