There will be another gas station at the corner of South Avenue and Reserve Street soon in the Rosauers parking lot.
A Missoula City Council Committee approved the Rosauers owners’ request to build an eight-pump station in the southwest corner of their lot, with an attached list of conditions negotiated during an hour-long meeting Wednesday.
The conditions were drawn up after a discussion last week broadened in scope to include some council members’ issues with the safety, design and traffic flow in the parking lot and across the South and Reserve intersection.
“You take your life in your own hands, kind of, across that parking lot,” Ward 4 representative Jon Wilkins said.
Wilkins was most concerned about pedestrian safety for people walking from the pumps to the store, and traffic flow in and out of the lot onto South Avenue, neither of which ended up on the list of conditions. He was the only council member to vote against the gas station.
The conditions included aesthetic guidelines (masonry on the support columns to match the Rosauers store) and signage prohibitions (on oil company branding and neon). The Rosauers’ owners also have to build landscaped endcaps at the west edge of each parking row, to delineate driving lanes for people going in and out of the gas station area.
Ward 4 representative John DiBari floated the idea of requiring a phased plan to rework the whole parking lot as part of the gas station agreement, but decided it was a reach.
The proposal initially met with some criticism from the public, through social media and emails to the City Council, largely from those who felt there was just no need for a second gas station on the same corner.
But the City Council focused on the specifics of how the gas station would affect the parking lot, which is fairly wide open, without much incentive to stay in driving lanes when the lot is empty.
Worries over how a busy filling station might exacerbate that behavior led to the endcap requirement, though similar worries with increased traffic turning in and out of the South Avenue exit weren’t assuaged.
A right-turn-in, right-out-only idea was suggested by Wilkins, but, since that area is under the control of the Montana Department of Transportation, the city can’t require changes.
Building the gas station likely will trigger a review from MDT, which may suggest tweaking the entryways into the Rosauers lot.