Schnucks wins sign appeals; Starbucks blocked on parking request
(Missourian) - Schnucks plans to build a grocery store including a CVS pharmacy at the southwest corner of Clark Lane and St. Charles Road in northeast Columbia, while Starbucks hopes to build a drive-thru coffee shop near the southwest corner of Vandiver Drive and Range Line Street.
Plans for both developments were the subject of lengthy hearings at the Columbia Board of Adjustment’s Tuesday night meeting. The Schnucks requests for variances from city sign ordinances were mostly granted, while Starbucks’ request for more parking than normally allowed was rejected.
The Schnucks and CVS would represent the first phase of a planned Battle Crossing shopping center, according to a city staff report to the Board of Adjustment. Development plans submitted to the city indicate the grocery store and pharmacy together would comprise 47,650 square feet and would be situated in the southwest corner of the shopping center.
The Donna Jean Armstrong Unitrust owns the 25-acre property where the shopping center is planned. GKT is the contract purchaser, and Schnucks would lease the land for its store, according to the staff report. GKT is a subsidiary of The Kroenke Group.
Despite plans that are part of the public record, Schnucks’ media relations department would not confirm its intentions for the Clark Lane property Tuesday.
“Schnucks is always evaluating store planning opportunities, potential customer expectations, and other future actions that could position our company for continued success,” it said in a statement emailed to the Missourian. “Part of this process is having discussions and exploring possibilities with government agencies, landowners, developers, etc. However, we don’t have any announcements at this time with regard to the Columbia market.”
Signs were the topic of an hourslong discussion at the Board of Adjustment meeting. Attorney Robert Hollis, on behalf of the developers, asked for variances from the city’s sign regulations that would allow the placement of two “master” Battle Crossing shopping center signs on the property, allow the size of the main Schnucks sign on the front of the store to exceed the letter of the code and allow a CVS sign on the eastern wall of the building, which doesn’t face street right of way.
Senior planner Patrick Zenner argued the city’s legal case on each of the variances but also acknowledged that the city’s sign regulations have not kept pace with the way Columbia is developing.
In the end, the board unanimously approved variances allowing the master shopping center signs and the larger Schnucks sign. It denied on a 3-2 vote the request for the CVS sign on the east side of the building.
Hollis also represented Starbucks, which asked the board to allow it to have 25 parking spaces, three more than the maximum allowed by the city’s zoning code, for its drive-thu. It is planned for the former site of the Budget Host Inn, which has been demolished.
The Starbucks would be built just south of the existing Waffle House. Starbucks argued that its national standards indicate 25 spaces are necessary to accommodate the number of customers it will attract.
“Starbucks has a well established need for parking based on operations at stores around the country,” its application for a variance read. “Their business model and traffic flow does not match those of a typical drive-thru restaurant, which the parking requirements are based on. They are able to serve more customers in a smaller space and need the additional parking spaces.”
Senior planner Clint Smith denied Starbucks’ application in a June 12 letter. He noted in his report to the board that city planning staff are authorized to approve up to 22 spaces, the maximum allowed under the zoning code, but that 25 spaces would require the board’s approval.
Smith wrote that Starbucks’ national standards shouldn’t be factored into zoning decisions in Columbia, which restricts parking as a means of limiting stormwater runoff, retaining green space and promoting alternative forms of transportation.
“Parking is a critical aspect for any business and is often a direct representation of that businesses (sic) success,” Smith wrote. “However, without limits, parking areas may become excessive wastelands of unsightly, under-utilized paving that pose greater impacts upon the environment and create opportunities to attract nuisances for adjoining land uses.”
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