Columbia Explores Options for Grindstone and Rock Quarry Corner

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COLUMBIA - The owner of the southwest corner of Grindstone Parkway and Rock Quarry Road said he is now in a new planning stage, after city council voted to deny MFA's request to build a Break Time gas station there this Monday.

MFA proposed constructing a 24-hour gas station and a convenience store at the southwest corner of Grindstone and Rock Quarry last spring. This rezoning project received many oppositions and was withdrawn last year by the Planning and Zoning Commission. This year the proposal was passed by the commission with a vote of 5-4, but was rejected by the city council with a vote of 5-2.

Matthew Lepke, planner from the Community Development Department, said the overall opinion on the project has changed this year. Lepke said there were some people against the project last year, but the department actually received several letters of support, in which residents near the project said they were "comfortable with the MFA Oil Break Time project moving forward."

Phebe LaMar, attorney representing Benny Hainen, the landowner, and MFA Oil, said that there is at least a year MFA couldn't possibility do anything, and it no longer has that particular location under contract.

"Obviously they thought it would be a good location or they wouldn't have tried twice. But one location doesn't make or break the company. They will move on and do other projects," LaMar said.

LaMar said the landowner was also disappointed and would like to see this project move forward in its second try.

"It is just one of the things you have to figure out where to go next. And he has to regroup and figure it out. He has to move on to plan B or C or whatever. But he really doesn't know what exactly he's going to do at this point," LaMar said.

LaMar said she personally would like to see an oil station at that location.

"I think I would use it a lot. I think there were some good ideas what went along with it. It would be nice to see in that location. But on the other hand, the city council didn't approve it, so now we have to move on," LaMar said.

Lepke said there are different groups of people who would like to see different things there. Some people, most residents, said they would like it to stay residential. They would like to see single-family homes, a duplex or smaller apartment building there. Lepke said some city staff had recommended a few years ago that perhaps a bank, or an office also might be appropriate there.

The city would allow the landowner to request something different within a year. But it has to wait at least one year if the request is similar at that location.