LANCASTER — The Planning Commission rejected a Conditional Use Permit to allow for the sale of beer and wine for off-site consumption at a proposed 7-Eleven and gas station at the northeast corner of Avenue J and 20th Street West.
The Commission voted 1-5 to deny the permit at Monday’s meeting with Commissioner King Moore absent. Commissioner Rutger Parris voted yes.
Commissioners raised concerns about the over-concentration of alcoholic beverage establishments as well as the impact to existing gas stations in the area.
The proposed development would have consisted of a 2,454-square-foot mini-mart and a 1,340 square-foot fueling canopy with six fuel dispensers. There would also be 4,000 square feet of landscaping.
The commercially-zoned property was most recently home to the former X Zone clothing store. The 9,000-square-foot building was also the site of the former Spa Shop.
There are 13 active, off-sale Alcoholic Beverage Control licenses within a one-mile radius of the proposed project site, including a Circle K Mobil gas station 500 feet to the west that sells beer and wine for off-site consumption. Grocery type/retail establishments such as Walmart, Food 4 Less and Rite Aid hold five of the off-sale licenses.
“We are not asking the commission to compromise its values, or to approve a project that would have a negative impact on the well-being of the community,” applicant Adan Madrid of ASI Development said during the meeting. “We wouldn’t do that.”
He said that while the corresponding census track is considered to be over-concentrated, the proposed 7-Eleven mini-mart and fuel station does not represent a detrimental over-concentration of like uses in the area.
“But rather, it will give residents and commuters an alternative location to purchase fuel, convenience products and beer and wine,” Madrid said.
Although the sale of beer and wine at 7-Eleven convenience stores represents a small percentage of gross sales, it is essential to the viability of the store, he said.
“Not being able to sell beer and wine will place 7-Eleven at a competitive disadvantage to the Circle K/Mobil gas station located just across the street, which was approved by the Planning Commission in 2017,” Madrid said.
In response to a question from Commissioner Dan Tufts, Madrid said it would be appropriate to have a competing gas station with a similar offering to what the Circle K/Mobil gas station has.
“These types of gas station/convenience stores with the off-sale of beer and wine are unique and different than other types of off-sale establishments such as grocery stores and liquor stores,” Madrid said.
Commissioner Diana Cook asked him whether there is any product offering that distinguishes 7-Eleven from competitors such as Circle K, Arco or Chevron.
Madrid said 7-Eleven is gravitating toward a healthier food product offering, including fresh fruit and salads. In addition, the company is able to tailor its product offerings to the local community.
There are five gas station/mini-marts that sell similar products within a mile of the proposed 7-Eleven site, including the Circle K/Mobil across the street.
“Given that we’ve identified those sites as basically a duplication of the service that you’re proposing, how do you justify the over-concentration of alcohol beverage establishments within that market?” Commission Chairman James Vose asked.
Madrid said he responded to the required findings related to that section of the code.
“They’re comprehensive and I believe that upon reading these findings, that the commission may agree that the findings for public necessity and convenience can be made,” Madrid said.
After Vose repeated his question, Madrid responded that the commission made the finding for public necessity and convenience for the Circle K/Mobil across the street.
“We are simply asking for the opportunity to be given similar consideration,” Madrid said.
He can file an appeal within 10 days.