- Faith Miller
- Maverik’s Fillmore Street location opened in 2018.
“We don’t need a gas station,” says Valerie Fix, whose property abuts West Brookside Street. “None of us has ever said, ‘Gosh darn, I really wish I had a gas station.’”
But that’s exactly what Maverik plans to give them, combined with a convenience store that offers fresh dining options and painted wilderness scenes at Tejon Street and Motor Way. The company submitted initial proposals to the city in November and, despite resident complaints at a Jan. 8 town hall, still wants to build its third Colorado Springs location at the site.
Maverik has to pass several tests before that can happen. First, it needs the city to approve its plans to combine the existing lots on the development site. It also needs permission to vacate an existing alleyway.
And the trickiest challenge, which city planner Matthew Fitzsimmons calls an “uphill climb”: It must obtain a variance to develop in a streamside overlay zone, an area where city code explicitly prohibits convenience stores with fuel sales because of the potential for environmental damage.
Maverik’s application will first go before the city’s planning commission, and City Council gets the final say. The company hopes to get the go-ahead sometime in April, says Rick Magness, Maverik’s entitlement manager.
Fix and a group of Ivywild residents had hoped plans wouldn’t get this far. At an early meeting with Maverik representatives in June, they protested the development based on its proximity to Cheyenne Creek and the traffic it would generate in an already-congested neighborhood. Later, 27 people submitted comments to the city expressing their displeasure. (Three were in favor.)
Magness contends that the company is addressing their concerns — including the fear that a fuel spill or contaminant-laden runoff could flow into Cheyenne Creek, which connects to Fountain Creek farther south.
“Technically, we’re meeting every standard and in some cases exceeding them,” Magness says.
The city’s standards governing streamside overlay zones were implemented after City Council passed the initial streamside ordinance in 2002 to limit development near creeks and waterways. The resulting city code requires developers to “complement the natural streamside setting,” minimize impact on wildlife habitat, and incorporate trail networks, among other criteria.
The code also outlines several types of “conditional uses” for streamside zones, including automotive and construction sales, as well as a list of “prohibited uses” — which includes convenience stores with fuel sales.
Getting a variance for a gas station is anything but easy, says Fitzsimmons, the city planner who’s been working with Maverik.
“This has to be approved by City Council because they’re going to vacate [develop over] an alleyway, and any time we give away city property, it has to get all the way to City Council,” Fitzsimmons says. “And they’re going to look at it very closely and listen to what the neighborhood has to say... This is an uphill climb for Maverik, and I’ve told them from the beginning.”
However, Fitzsimmons acknowledges that because Maverik is required to build a trail on the property as part of the streamside overlay criteria, that could give them an advantage with some city councilors. And Maverik representatives believe their stormwater plans will protect the waterway.
At the town hall, Dennis Riding, the company’s environmental director, described a complex system designed to trap runoff and keep fuel spills from reaching the creek. Maverik’s plan involves installing three oil containment devices upstream of a detention basin that can potentially hold thousands of gallons of fuel, keeping it from reaching the creek. Riding argued that with 320 stores in 11 states, Maverik knows what it’s doing when it comes to stormwater.
But residents weren’t satisfied. Some voiced concerns that in the event of a 100-year flood, runoff containing contaminants could wash into the creek.
Riding and Magness both contend that the company uses the latest technology to control for extreme weather and spills. You’d have to have a “giant come and lift a tank and dump it out in the creek,” Magness says, to do real damage.
Another big issue, for Fix and many of the other two dozen or so residents at the Jan. 8 meeting, is traffic. Maverik hired a local contractor to conduct a traffic study, and he found that about 2,300 vehicles would enter and exit the store during the average 24-hour weekday to use the six double-sided fueling stations.
Fix and her neighbors find that unacceptable, saying the neighborhood is already inundated with traffic, and new development is on the way. The South Nevada Urban Renewal Plan means a slew of residential and commercial projects will soon bring more visitors to the area.
However, Magness pointed out at the town hall that Maverik’s business model is not to necessarily lure people from other parts of town — despite its obvious aim to be a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing convenience store than most — but to attract drivers already on the road.
“Traffic’s there and we capture it,” Magness said, in response to residents’ fears that travelers would leave Interstate 25 and worsen backup on Tejon Street. “We are not known as a trip generator. I wish we were like a Trader Joe’s, but we’re not.”
Maverik’s initial proposal calls for widening Tejon Street in front of the gas station’s access points to alleviate congestion and create bike lanes. However, residents worried that won’t be enough if properties south of it don’t also agree to give up part of their land to widen the street.
Despite the objections, Magness calls the site a “wonderful place with a wonderful neighborhood,” and expressed no doubts about moving forward. Once Maverik submits a second, revised application (likely later this month) city staff will develop a recommendation, which the planning commission may use to make a decision. Then, plans will go before Council.
“I’d love for [the residents] to understand also that not only do we like working in the Colorado Springs area, but especially Ivywild,” Magness says.