John McBride thought it would be an easy one. The attorney for 7-Eleven presented a proposal to tear down the Citgo gas station and mini-mart on Rolling Road near Traford Lane.
In its place would sprout a new 7-Eleven with gas pumps. "We were going to do redevelopment in an older area," said McBride, to the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Oct. 12.
The proposal would reduce some existing problems with the site, such as its lighting and signs. It would also close off the access road that creates a dangerous situation as it empties onto Traford Lane.
But Department of Planning and Zoning staff thought that the new plans would be too much for the 1-acre property, and recommend denying the request. The proposed 7-Eleven would be about 2,800 square feet while the existing mini-mart is 344 square feet. The number of gas pumps would also increase from eight to 12.
"The proposed quick-service food store will inevitably lead to more traffic on the property," said Jack Thompson of the Department of Planning and Zoning.
McBride countered that the proposal would be less dense and have more open space than its neighbors on three sides.
"We think we fit right in," he said. "It's not really intense, considering the surroundings."
Planning Commissioner Laurie Frost Wilson (At-large) questioned the staff's conclusions that the new structure would increase traffic. She is familiar with the area and says that several gas stations and a 7-Eleven are already located nearby. "I don't necessarily think you are going to see people go out of their way to go to this gas station," she said.
Kevin Kirk, president of the West Springfield Civic Association, agreed. He said his members are "leery" about what it would bring in terms of more traffic, but that neighbors hope that 7-Eleven will maintain the property better than the current owner.
The other issue is that Planning and Zoning staff asked 7-Eleven to pay a "pro-rata" share of installing a pedestrian crosswalk signal across Rolling Road on the north side of the intersection.
McBride said that such a signal is already across Rolling Road, just on the south side of the intersection. He also objected to the term pro-rata as being too vague.
Planning Commissioner Susanne Harsel (Braddock) said that West Springfield High School, and other public buildings, like the Springfield Government Center and a post office are to the north, and that a crosswalk on the north would likely be more useful.
Kirk agreed. "That's where the pedestrian traffic really is," he said.
McBride hinted that he might be willing to pay for part of a pedestrian improvement, if his client and the county could agree to a specific amount.
Harsel deferred her decision about the proposal until Oct. 26 to allow time to consider the issues.