Neighbors say convenience store anything but
Neighbors of a proposed convenience store complex at the corner of Springbrook and McAndrews roads said the project would cause noise, air pollution, crime and unbearable traffic, and would destroy a wetland.
Numerous neighbors turned out at a meeting of the Medford Site Plan and Architectural Commission to protest the project, which calls for about 5,000 square feet of structures. Proposed by Colvin Oil, the project would include a Circle K convenience store, a car wash, gas pumps, a stand-alone coffee kiosk and, eventually, a retail strip.
After two-plus hours of testimony, the matter was continued to the commission’s Friday, May 17 meeting.
Staff last week told commission members the project fit criteria outlined in the 20-year master plan for development in the city and was an approved use for the site at 1380 Springbrook Road. The parcel was rezoned in 2015, but commission members were told by staff that some neighbors did not receive proper notification of the rezoning — up to 20 neighbors claim they weren’t notified.
Neighbors presented a petition bearing more than 1,000 signatures.
Ashwood Court resident MT Dimick said neighbors had a long list of concerns about the project. Dimick said the property was home to an elderly woman and her old horse until she died.
Dimick said the project called for a Dumpster and roadway immediately along her back fence. She took issue with city officials denying the presence of wetlands. She said her husband had been required to install a drainage ditch to mitigate water from seasonal wetlands when he built their home two decades ago.
“It is devastating. We are not going to win either way because, OK, this goes in, then clearly we will be selling our house, because there’s no way we can live with something like that right in our backyard,” she said.
“And then I’m not really thrilled thinking about the different types of people that this type of 24-hour situation may attract, so we’re going to either have to move and obviously lose a lot of money on our house — because who else wants to live with this in their backyard?”
Pinebrook Circle resident Janice Sumrak said she learned of the proposed development when she saw a sign posted by city officials.
“We are extremely unhappy and we do not want a gas station and car wash so close to our home and on such a busy intersection. It would be just horrible. Our traffic here is quite bad as it is,” Sumrak said.
“Sometimes you can’t even sit in your backyard because of all the traffic going by, and this would more than double the traffic.”
Neighbor Judy Farnsworth, who lives on Springbrook Road (corrected from previous version) across from the proposed development, worried for her homebound husband, a disabled veteran with severe respiratory illness.
“Doctors and nurses visit because he can’t leave, and the pollution already causes him distress. I’m pretty confident that if something like this goes in, it’s going to drastically shorten my husband’s life as well as eventually keep him from ever going outside again,” she said.
“A lot of our neighbors have put up for sale signs. They’re moving because they don’t want to live near monstrosities like this. Given the level of my husband’s disability, we’re not afforded the time to move.”
City officials did not immediately return calls Wednesday.
Matt Small of Kistler, Small, White Architects in Ashland, who spoke on behalf of the applicant at the commission meeting, said the property owners were “striving to be good neighbors” and had gone above and beyond, including a plan to incorporate 2,200 feet of landscaping and trees where city guidelines required only 1,200 feet.
Small acknowledged concerns about a hawk nesting in a tree on the property and said the owner was willing to install a nesting pole or delay site work until after nesting season.
“In spite of all the opposition, and people who are here today, this project is pretty straightforward. The city initiated the zoning change, and that’s what resulted in taking a residential piece of property and turning it into a commercial property,” he said.
“The owners are willing to work with the neighborhood and do everything they can to mitigate the issues. I guarantee you that there’s not a person here today who doesn’t love watching a hawk fly.”
At the site Wednesday morning, Dimick shook her head at the drastic changes in store. She said she was working with state officials to see whether the wetland might prompt a lower density of development or protect it from development and leave it as a green space.
An email provided by Dimick from wetland ecologist Lauren Brown of the Oregon Department of State Lands indicated the property had not been surveyed for wetlands but said “waters were mapped” in 2002.
“I can’t believe they would say there are no wetlands,” Dimick said, tromping in rubber boots over a marshy area Wednesday.
“The woman who lived on the land, she used to watch the ducks on the pond all the time. They say there’s no wetland, and when we went to the Planning Department they said the same thing. Here we are standing next to the pond and creek that don’t exist. It will just be devastating if they pave over this entire piece of land. It will destroy this neighborhood and our livability.”
The Site Plan and Architectural Commission meets at noon Friday at City Hall, Council Chambers, 411 W. Eighth St., Medford.
Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at email@example.com.