Elmira has been earmarked for another gas station, convenience store and carwash, this one proposed for the property at the corner of Arthur Street South and Earl Martin Drive.
The property is currently zoned for that use, and the owner, Grant Castle Corp, intends to build a gas station on the vacant land. The problem is that Grant Castle Corp is looking to include a convenience store, but the area zoning allows for only one convenience store in the vicinity. A convenience store already exists across Earl Martin Drive at the Petro Canada station. The company is asking for a minor variance adjustment in order to be able to build the convenience store.
The committee of adjustment met last week to discuss the request.
Rachel Bossie is the planner handling the file for GSP Group, the consulting company for Grant Castle Corp.
“If this site is not permitted an accessory convenience store, it would make the site a lot less functional,” she said at the meeting. “When customers stop for gas, they should be able to purchase convenience retail items on site, similar to all of the other gas stations in Elmira. So, the proposed minor variance will allow the site to function like every other gas station in Elmira.”
Bill Scott is a nearby resident who lives nearby on South Parkwood Boulevard. He expressed concerns that the addition of another gas station will cause further traffic delays. Elmira is a target area for more growth, he says, but the region doesn’t plan to expand Arthur Street anytime soon.
“I’m more concerned about the traffic flow at the intersection and what this gas station will cause in the way of new traffic turning left and right – or north and south east and west – and the added strain that will have on that intersection,” he said.
“To put it in perspective, in the mornings, traffic can be backed up right to downtown heading south. And it takes forever to cross Arthur Street south to head north and vice versa in the rush hour in the afternoons.”
Scott also wonders about the suitability of another gas station in that part of Elmira.
“We already have a fairly high concentration of automotive-centric businesses in less than 700 metres. And by adding this, now we’ll have three gas stations with convenience stores and four carwashes, within 700 metres.
“I really am challenged to see what the justification is for Grant Castle to locate in that particular part of Elmira,” he said. “I’m not begrudging them to open a business – if there’s a demand for it, obviously that justifies opening it – but in the town of Elmira, we desperately need a gas station at the north end of Elmira, on Church, where’s there’s been a lot of growth already.”
Linda Dickson sits on the township’s committee of adjustment.
“I have to admit, with all due respect to staff, I don’t see this as a minor variance. I think there’s some use issues here. I understand that … the use is allowed through the zoning bylaw, but there’s also that provision not to allow certain things within a certain radius of each other. And I’ve always been uncomfortable, even in my planning career as a planner, using the minor variance process to look at uses. So, I don’t support the application for allowing the use.”
Tim Cronin, Hans Pottkamper and Charles Zeidler, who also sit on the committee, said they felt that whether or not a gas station should be built in the area was beyond the scope of the committee.
The committee voted and passed the minor variance application. The appeal period will last until August 21.