February 05, 2014 - Crestwood's Circle K gas station at 9931 Watson Road received approval last week to begin operating 24 hours a day.
The Crestwood Board of Aldermen approved the conditional use permit, or CUP, modification 7-1 to extend operating hours for the business, which is close to Lodge Drive.
Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood opposed the modification, citing comments from residents against the change.
"The citizens who put me here said, 'No, we feel uncomfortable, that our experience has been X,'" Trueblood said. "I don't live there. So I don't know what their experience has been. I take them at their word. I will vote 'no' on that basis ..."
Ward 2 resident Chris McGee, who lives on Lodge Drive, contacted Trueblood by email to express opposition to Circle K's extended hours.
In the email obtained by the Call, McGee wrote that Lodge Drive residents "are already rudely woken up by loud patrons, peeling out of tires, the garbage dumpster being emptied at very early hours, loud employees taking their smoke break behind the station, car horns and alarms, pump acknowledgements over the intercom, very bright lights, etc."
McGee also stated that a 24-hour operation would "greatly impact" his desire to remain on Lodge Drive.
Keith Hollis, regional director of operations for Circle K, attended the Jan. 28 board meeting, but did not comment on McGee's concerns. However, Hollis attended a previous Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, where he agreed to the following conditions:
• All site maintenance must be conducted between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
• Truck deliveries must occur between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
• Speaker usage at gas pumps cannot occur between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
• No employee or patron activity can occur behind the building between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The board unanimously amended the CUP modification to include a condition that trash pickup does not occur before 7 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
Resident David Brophy, who lives on Lodge Drive, told the board the same issue occurred roughly 10 years ago and residents on Lodge Drive were "strongly opposed" to a 24-hour gas station. He also said he was concerned that if Circle K becomes a 24-hour business, it could close from midnight to 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. due to a lack of business.
"If it's a business, I can understand that they would want to do business," Brophy said, "but I have to say I think they may not have any customers. So, we'll see what happens. I'm not opposed to it. I'm not in favor of it. I'm just curious to see whether the safety of the individuals who run the place at that time is considered."
Safety is also a "big concern" for resident Dave Skwark.
"You're almost inviting some of that added risk when you're open at that time of night when there's nothing else going on," he said. "I think you're increasing traffic at that time of night. Right now, you can sit there during the summertime and you can hear the cars when they leave.
"Some of them are the younger people who like to let you know they've got a fast car. That's not being addressed ..."
Acting Police Chief Frank Arnoldy said the police would treat Circle K as "another 24-hour business in town."
"We'll just add additional patrol into the area for the business to make sure that you see the person that's working is in there on their rounds just to make sure that they're OK," he said.
Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter said no residents reached out to her about the issue and she likes that Hollis "made concessions to try to address concerns."
With the changes Hollis agreed to and the fact that no residents contacted her directly with concerns, Stadter said she did not have "major reservations" about voting to approve the CUP for Circle K.
Hollis told the board Circle K has 63 locations in the St. Louis area that all operate 24 hours.
"All of our competition is 24 hours and we occasionally get requests or questions why we're not at this location," Hollis said.