Marysville officials want the community to know they have had discussions about making improvements to the traffic at the Five Points Intersection.
As part of the planning commission report at Monday night’s meeting, city council members expressed frustration about the traffic a potential Sheetz gas station could cause.
“Pretty much the comments we heard were that Sheetz is great, the location is lousy,” Council Member Henk Berbee said.
Earlier this month, the planning commission approved what developers are calling “a neighborhood-scale Sheetz” for 800 Delaware Ave., site of the former Rite Aid pharmacy.
Berbee said community members worry the gas station will create more traffic at the already congested Five Points Intersection.
City Manager Terry Emery told the council that administration tried to get Sheetz to select another location.
“Sheetz made it very clear in our meetings that’s the site they are interested in,” Emery said.
He said company officials knew there would be an approval process and agreed to work with the city to “ensure that they help manage the issue associated with traffic.”
City Engineer Kyle Hoyng said Sheetz recently completed a traffic study for the site and the city has returned initial comments.
City administration said this is not the first time they have looked at the intersection.
“There has been preliminary studies over the years so it is not like it is a green field,” council member Alan Seymour said. “There has already been some dotted lines put on paper in various areas. There is already some ideas.”
Emery said the city has “put together a couple of options.”
Officials said they are in the process of hiring a consultant to look at traffic solutions and present options.
“We don’t want to speculate. We don’t want to use the word roundabout,” Berbee said. “There are certain things we don’t want to say because we purposefully do not want to influence the company that we would hire to make suggestions to us.”
Berbee asked if Sheetz would be willing to wait until the city has a “full plan for the whole five points.”
“He asked what would happen if the Sheetz building is underway, but does not fit into the option city officials choose to improve the intersection.
Hoyng said Sheetz has indicated it wants to move forward as quickly as possible. He said there are “steps they still need to go through before they break ground.” He said company officials have said they would like to have all the approvals completed by June 1, 2022.
“During this whole time we have met with them, we made it very clear there is multiple options being tossed around – whether it is a new right turn lane, whether it is a roundabout, whether it is realignment of the intersection,” Hoyng said. “They are designing their site to accommodate all of those improvements.”
He said the city is working with the developer to make sure the site can handle any of the options.”
Hoyng said he hopes that by the time Sheetz has approval, the city has a plan completed.
Council member Mark Reams said city officials need to keep an eye on the area “because we are adding a problem to a problem.”
Council member J.R. Rausch agreed there is a lot of work to be done, but a lot of the approved uses would create the same concerns.
“It has just gotten to the point that we need to address Five Points no matter what goes in there,” Rausch said.
Hoyng said “the fastest we can move is start construction in spring of 2024 and that is if everything goes perfectly smooth when it comes to right of way acquisition, depending on what improvements we decide to do.”
Council member Donald Boerger said he is “disappointed in the decision of the planning commission and city staff allowing another gas station on our main artery into town.”
He said it is difficult for residents in the Uptown to deal with the congestion caused by high-traffic-volume businesses like gas stations and retailers.
“I believe this decision is wrong and nowhere fits the overall, well planned neighborhoods we claim within our organization,” Boerger said.
Emery said the gas station fits the zoning district as approved by council. He said if there are concerns, the zoning code needs to be changed but it is inappropriate to “point fingers” at the planning commission or the council.
Berbee said he has had multiple people express frustration that council approved the development. He said it was not city council or administration but rather the planning commission that approved the gas station.
Berbee and others asked if council had any recourse.
City Law Director Tim Aslaner said the council does not have authority to overturn the planning commission.
“I wouldn’t rule out other options yet,” Reams said.
He said he believes the city may have some options. He said that since there were planning commission members absent at the meeting, the approval may not have gotten enough votes. Reams said it is clear the council is not completely behind the planning commission’s decision.
Aslaner said he would look into that, but that is not how he interprets the city ordinances.
City officials have said they have explored a variety of options to deal with the existing, and potentially increasing, traffic issues at the Five Points Intersection. Options include widening several roads, adding turn lanes or creating a roundabout. City officials have stressed they have not decided which, if any, option they want to move forward with at this point. (Graphic submitted)