A controversial proposal to add gas pumps to the Reserve Street Rosauers ran out of time Monday night and was sent back to committee by the Missoula City Council.
Ward 6 representative Marilyn Marler decided to send the project back for more discussion when one council member after another raised questions, concerns and ideas that broadened to include the entire intersection at Reserve Street and South Avenue West.
“As a shopper, I have a lot of questions about the interior flow (of the parking lot),” Marler said right before sending back the proposal.
The project, which has drawn some ire on social media and in letters to the council, would add five gas pumps catercorner to the Rosauers store on its corner lot.
Several comments submitted to the council via email took one side or the other, arguing for an increase in local business, or against the presumed uselessness of another gas station right across the street from the Holiday, along with the potential for increased congestion in and out of the Rosauers parking lot and conflict with Missoula’s sustainable transportation goals.
Steve Hug was one of several people who emailed the council opposed to the gas station.
“I think the safety issues alone should kill this proposal, however please also consider how the aesthetics of Missoula are quickly being eroded away as we put up more and more ugly, unnecessary structures,” Hug wrote. “And, do we really want to promote MORE use of cars? I thought we were going in the direction of alternative, green transportation models.”
The Rosauers owners and Craig Schaeffer, from Morrison and Maierle engineering, addressed some of the traffic concerns in their presentation Monday night.
Less than 15 percent of South Avenue traffic is coming into Rosauer’s, and the owners only expected a “small percentage” of new customers to come in to refuel.
They would add striping, signage and islands in the parking lot to clearly designate lanes of traffic and try and prevent cars backing up after turning in from South Avenue.
Though, as the bevy of council questions represented, there weren’t quick fixes for all the issues in the lot, which Rosauer's executive Mike Shirts acknowledged.
“We don’t disagree that the parking lot can be challenging,” he said.
The council approved another project a little farther west that had drawn some neighborhood notice: a housing development off Flynn Lane that would add 36 single-family homes/townhouses to the Hellgate area.
Residents argued the development was too closely packed, as opposed to the large lot sizes surrounding it, and said the extra homes would put undue extra traffic on Flynn Lane; a problem especially given its proximity to Hellgate Elementary.
The council unanimously approved the development, citing the premium of space in the Missoula Valley.
“I understand how hard it can be to see this kind of development happening right across the street from you,” Marler said. “It’s just a fact that we’re going to have to have more places where houses are built more closely.”