Beloit City councilors on Monday approved a conditional use permit to allow a Casey's General Store near the corner of Cranston and Shopiere roads.
Councilors voted 5-1-1 to approve the permit, which goes against the Plan Commission recommendation. Councilor Sheila DeForest voted against and councilor Dave Luebke abstained.
The conditional use permit allows Casey's to install eight gas pumps on the 2.8 acre lot at 2240 Cranston Road. Along with a 4,200 square-foot convenient store selling pizza, sandwiches along with beer and wine.
Brian DePrez, real estate and store development associate for Casey's, said the Iowa-based company has looked to come back to southern Wisconsin.
“I found four locations and brought it back to our executives,” he said. “This (lot) was at the top of their list. It's not often you find a vacant corner with 26,000 cars passing it on a daily basis.”
He said the store will employ 20 to 25 full and part time employees, but he didn’t know how many of each adding it would be the decision of the store manager.
During the agenda review committee councilors discussed changing the plan to move the convenient store building closer to Cranston Road and have the gas pumps in the back.
Part of the concern during the Plan Commission meeting was the original intent of the district neighborhood was to be office space.
“The suggestion to reverse your building and perhaps put some fake windows on the back side would in fact preserve the office-type streetscape,” said councilor Jim Van De Bogart.
DePrez said typically Casey's doesn't build the store with the back facing the busiest road, and didn't believe the company's executives would approve that type of layout.
DeForest said she voted against the plan because she believed the council should follow the original intent of the district.
David Francis, Denver, Colo. resident, who's mother owns the property, said the land has been for sale for nearly 30 years since his father and business partner bought it in the 1980s.
“It was always the intention to sell for commercial use,” Francis said.
Jerry Murphy, owner of the Murphy Wisch and Associates Funeral Home, 2355 Cranston Road, spoke out against the project and also cited the need to maintain the “vision the council had 25 years ago.”
Several other convenient business owners said letting Casey's into the neighborhood would negatively impact their business.
Council President Charles Haynes said it would essentially violate anti-trust laws to prevent Casey's from coming into the neighborhood based solely the impact of other businesses.
Ryan Swanson, engineering consultant for Casey's, said the company planned to use LED lights to minimize the light that would spread to disrupt local residents.
“It's a more subdued and it's not as bright as some of the older gas stations that are around,” he said.
DePrez said Casey's would like to start building this year, adding it would take about three to four months to complete the project once it started.
“If we get into say November it might be difficult to start then,” he said. “But we would like to start this year.”