Kroger will ask the Planning Commission to approve a gas station in front of its store in the Chinoe Village shopping center, even though neighbors say gas pumps will increase traffic, noise and have a detrimental impact on the nearby residential area.
"I can think of no other place in the city where a gas station plopped down in the middle of a neighborhood," said homeowner Jennie Willson, who lives across the street from the shopping center at 1065 Chinoe Road.
Kroger plans a 10-pump station with a canopy and a small kiosk with a bathroom in a portion of the center on Creekroad Drive, behind the Chinoe Pub.
Neighbor Bruce Thomas said a gas station will have a negative impact on property values. "Nobody wants a gas station in front of their house," said Thomas, who lives at 1063 Chinoe Road. "My retirement finances are wrapped up in my house. And Kroger comes in and puts a gas station out front. There goes my investment," he said.
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"There are six gas stations within two miles of this neighborhood. It isn't like people don't have some place else where they can buy gas."
In a competitive grocery store environment, gasoline has become an integral part of Kroger's business since the company began offering "enticing fuel discount points," said Tim McGurk, company spokesman in Kroger's mid-south office in Louisville.
For every $100 customers spend in the store, they earn 10 cents off the purchase of a gallon of gas, up to $1 a gallon. Points earned one month can go toward fuel savings that month or the following, he said.
Gas pumps are not feasible at all Kroger locations because of limited on-site parking, McGurk said. But the majority of the 110 Kroger stores throughout the state —12 of those in Lexington — have gas pumps.
A petition with several pages of signatures signed by opponents of the gas pumps going into Chinoe Village has been received by the city's Division of Planning, said Bill Sallee, director of planning services.
Kroger's real estate managers have been in contact with residents and have proposed changes to address concerns about the proposed gas station. A canopy over the pumps will be painted earth tone colors and the exterior of the kiosk will be brick. If nearby mature trees are damaged or die because of construction, Kroger will replace them, McGurk said.
Lights over the pumps will be recessed into the canopy ceiling to minimize light pollution into the residential area. "It will be a better visual fit for the shopping center and for the neighborhood," McGurk said of the changes.
Chinoe Village, at 1060 Chinoe Road, is zoned for a planned shopping center, which allows a gas station.
About 10 years ago Kroger submitted a development plan to the Planning Commission for gas pumps in Chinoe Village. But the pumps were never installed. After five years, the development plan expired.
The current plan was reviewed by the Planning Commission's technical and subdivision committees, and referred to the full Planning Commission for consideration at its public meeting on Thursday. The city's professional planning staff recommended approval.
If the Planning Commission gives approval, construction would likely start about May, McGurk said, and be completed in eight weeks.
Thomas complained that neighbors were not notified by the planning staff of Kroger's plans, and only learned about the proposed gas station last week.
The planning staff is required to post property where a zone change is requested, and notify neighbors within 400 feet, Sallee said. Formal notification is not required for development plans.
The Planning Commission will meet at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the council chambers at the Government Center, 200 East Main Street.