Friday, March 01, 2013

Summary of meeting with Racetrac

The Bee Ridge Neighborhoods Committee met with Racetrac this morning to discussion ways to mitigate impacts of the planned 24-pump Racetrac gas station that is planned for the Northeast corner of Bee Ridge Rd. at Mauna Loa Blvd.

Here are some highlights -- more detailed report will follow.

Racetrac representative Tom Hardy fielded questions from the Committee for an hour, then addressed questions specific to Lake Sarasota, as this is the nearest and most exposed community.

The top items:

1. The company is looking at possibly reducing the size of the store from 6,000 square feet to 5,200 square feet. This is a result of the realization that the station will be on a "tight site" within a cul de sac. The smaller store will have all the same amenities, including window counter with wifi and a beer cave, that the larger, 6,000 square foot stores have.




2. Because Bee Ridge Rd. is due for widening, Racetrac is now thinking to push back its construction start until the 4th quarter of this year at the earliest. Construction normally takes four months, so the earliest it would open is in the first or second quarter of 2014. They don't want to open the store only to have road construction blocking folks from getting to it, Hardy explained. (As of now, the widening of Bee Ridge Rd. cannot begin before October 2013, and will probably not be complete until late 2014 at the earliest.)

3. Hours of operation: All stores are corporate-owned and operated. The company will not entertain anything less than 24-hour a day, 7 day a week operation, nor will it reduce the number of pump stations to fewer than 24.

4. Signage: The main sign will be 8 feet tall, 60 square-foot monument sign, with the name of the company and regular and diesel gas prices in lettering 24" to 28" high. The Racetrac logo will be visible (but not illuminated) on the tall canopy over the pumps, Racetrac sign above the door, a window sign will advertise yogurt, and a coffee sign on the wall. The building itself will be 27 feet tall at its high point. No car wash.



5. There will be highway signage advertising the Racetrac station.

6. Volume of business: According to Hardy, stations of this kind average fuel sales of 10,000 gallons a day. Both regular and diesel fuel will be sold, but the tight configuration will discourage large semis from going there for gas, he added.

7. Landscaping: Will include a 30-foot-long hedge, and three trees per 100 feet, along with rocks and ground plants. Trees will include East Palatka Holly, Red Maples, and Royal Palms.

8. Offsite Mitigation: The company does not feel that its responsibility extends to helping a Lake Sarasota with building a wall, or adding vegetation to help mitigate impacts of light, noise, etc. along the south side of Bee Ridge Rd. Hardy suggested that the neighborhood might want to take up the issue of offsite mitigation with TerraCap BP, the developer of 200,000 square feet of retail and offices around the Racetrac. (The committee also recommended that Lake Sarasota might discuss mitigation on the south side of Bee Ridge with the County as part of the road widening.)
     Hardy also noted that the County is buying many homes along the south side of Bee Ridge Rd. to make room for the road widening, which should leave room for a dense buffer. Here's a recent image of the road plan (click to enlarge):

Aerial view of Bee Ridge Rd. and Mauna Loa

9. Alcohol: Beer and wine are sold, but none is allowed to be consumed in the store or on the Racetrac premises.

10. Community involvement: Racetrac gets involved in its communities, working with local schools, law enforcement, fire departments. "I feel like we're a great corporate citizen."

11. Crime: "Our stance is being open 24 hours a day actually deters crime...the crime rate at a certain store always reflects the community it's built in. Since we have such a nice community we're building in, we're probably not going to have those problems."

12. Deliveries: All regular deliveries to supply the store take place during normal business hours, between 8 a.m. and 5 pm. Large gas tanker trucks come to refuel when needed. Average a truck a day, usually but not always during normal business hours.

13. Access from Bee Ridge Rd: Obtaining a right in/right out access from Bee Ridge Rd. to the station (at a point 440 feet east of the light at Mauna Loa) is important to Racetrac's success, he said. If the only access were from the Mauna Loa intersection, it would present more of a problem for the station to serve so many customers. (TerraCap is seeking approval for this right in/out access as part of its rezoning petition).


Racetrac at Fruitville Rd.


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