Lot near Coal Mine, Kipling rezoned

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By Corinne Westeman

Despite recommendation to deny from staff and neighbors, the Jeffco Board of County Commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to rezone a 3-acre lot in South Jeffco to allow for a gas station.
The lot, which sits on the northeast corner of Coal Mine Avenue and Kipling Parkway, is undeveloped and was zoned for agricultural use. Blakeland Drive Investors LLP owns the lot, but Murphy Oil USA, Inc., plans to lease the north half for a gas station. The other half would remain undeveloped, but, with the board’s approval, the whole lot now has been rezoned as Planned Development.
Murphy Oil is based in Arkansas, but it does business in 26 states. It has more than a dozen gas stations in Colorado, and is looking to make the move to Jeffco, company representative Wayne Gibson said.
While the Planning Commission had approved the proposal 6-1, case manager Heather Gutherless said that staff found that a gas station wouldn’t  follow the comprehensive master plan’s recommendation that the lot have limited commercial use, such as a small grocery store or a fitness center. Plus, its light, noise, odor and traffic would negatively impact the nearby residents, she said.
In addition to their concerns about traffic and light pollution, neighbors told the commissioners that there was already a gas station at that intersection, and were concerned that a new one would put the other one out of business.
A petition with 1,100 signatures of those opposing the new gas station had been submitted to the county.
Keith Rabin, whose house is adjacent to the lot, told the commissioners that he can already see the other gas station and the Natural Grocers sign from his house, and didn’t want another gas station right next to his house.
Commissioner Casey Tighe asked Rabin whether he would be opposed to other commercial use, as was recommended in the comprehensive master plan, and Rabin replied, “The light that is needed for a gas station is much different than something that’s needed for a strip mall.”
Representatives from Murphy Oil addressed concerns from the public testimony, saying that the petition included signatures from non-Jeffco residents and that the planning commission hadn’t given it much weight, and both the community meetings the applicants had hosted had been lightly attended.
Ryan F. McBreen of Norris Design, who has been representing Murphy Oil through the application process, said that the company has listened to the community’s, staff’s and planning commission’s concerns regarding the light and noise, and is committed to being good neighbors.
He said Murphy Oil could schedule deliveries to be during daytime hours, such as between noon and 5 p.m.; it had planned the louder appliances to be as far away from residences as possible; the gas station’s canopy lights would be dimmer than most stations’; and Murphy Oil would plant trees around the perimeter to further diminish light and aesthetic impacts.
During commissioner comments, Tighe said that, while the comprehensive master plan is an advisory document not a regulatory one, he still gave it considerable weight and tried to make a motion to deny the approval but no one seconded it.
Commissioner Tina Francone said she believed a gas station wouldn’t be incompatible with the use already seen in that area, with Commissioner Libby Szabo having similar sentiments. Both voted to approve the rezoning with Tighe voting against.
“The mud isn’t real clear on this one,” Szabo said. “... Can we always make everyone happy? No. ... Jefferson County is getting sparse for land. It’s getting filled up quickly.”

Contact reporter Corinne Westeman at 303-350-1043 or cwesteman@evergreenco.com, and follow her on Twitter @cwesteman.