WAVERLY — A controversial rezoning of residential property to commercial property in order to accommodate a new convenience store and gas station narrowly passed a delayed second reading by the Waverly City Council.
Casey’s General Store, after pulling its rezoning request in December — ostensibly to wait for a more favorable seating of a new city council — brought the second reading of the rezoning back to the council Monday.
WAVERLY — The developer asking for a rezoning of residential land to commercial in order to build a new gas station and convenience store has …
After about an hour’s worth of discussion by neighbors, Casey’s representatives and council members, the second reading passed, 4-3. A third and final reading was not yet scheduled.
Ward 3 member Rodney Drenkow, Ward 4 member Mike Sherer and Ward 5 member Tim Kangas were in the minority, siding with neighbors worried about increased traffic, safety and declining property values.
“To me, this boils down to a question of property rights,” Drenkow said.
He agreed the city’s comprehensive use plan, as well as the construction of Cedar River Parkway, made it desirable to Casey’s to want a convenience store and gas station at the northwest corner of Fourth Street Southwest and 10th Avenue Southwest. But he disagreed it trumped neighbors’ property rights.
“We’re creating the conditions that change what’s happening, and then using that reason to say, ‘now we have to do the rezoning.’ I have a very hard time justifying that,” he said. “This is just not the right kind of development for the area.”
“We already know Fourth Street is busy,” agreed Kangas. “There’s a number of concerns that I have with this location for this purpose.”
Ward 2 council member Dan McKenzie agreed that simply rezoning the property from R-1 single-family residential to C-2 commercial would not be appropriate. But he noted that Casey’s had put in the work.
“We do know what’s going there, and we have some fairly strong commitment to how they would address the residents’ concerns,” McKenzie said.
“We know what Casey’s has committed to, which is highly unusual at this stage of the game, and the residents know,” said at-large council member Edith Waldstein.
Other council members said both Casey’s and the city’s planning and zoning commission should be trusted.
“I don’t want to become a council that obstructs all new development,” said at-large council member Ann Rathe. “I think Casey’s has done a lot of work on this, much more than is typical.”
“Casey’s, with good reason, considers this a prime location, and they’re willing to jump through a lot of hoops to make it happen,” Ward 1 council member Brian Birgen said.
Mayor Dean Soash asked Casey’s General Stores legal counsel Amy Costello if she would agree to a meeting with neighbors after a year in operation.
Costello said she would.
“It’s not like we have a plan to operate the store dangerously,” Costello said. “We’re certainly not trying to undermine anyone’s feelings and thoughts about this, but we would encourage a close look at the facts that have been put forward.”