Vicksburg Planning Commission tables QuikTrip variance request

Published 10:28 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Is the proposed QuikTrip fueling station on East Clay Street a truck stop or a convenience store?

The Vicksburg Planning Commission could answer that question when it meets on Nov. 2 to resume its hearing on QuikTrip’s application for a variance to the city’s zoning ordinance to build the station on East Clay Street.

Meeting as the Zoning Board of Appeals, the commission voted to table QuikTrip’s application to allow company officials time to correct deficiencies in its application for the variance. The vote came after more than an hour of discussion and debate concerning the project’s plans.

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Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip, which proposes to build a convenience store on East Clay Street west of the intersection with Miss. 27, filed an application for a variance to increase its store size from the 5,000 square feet set by the city ordinance to 8,292 square feet for a “travel center.”

The hearing was originally set for August but was rescheduled to Tuesday after QuikTrip pulled its application and later refiled it.

Under the city’s zoning ordinances, someone applying for a variance must demonstrate four things:

* That special additions and circumstances exist which are peculiar to the land, structure or building involved and which are not applicable to other lands, structures or buildings in the same zone.

* That the applicant will suffer some unusual hardship from the literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance different or greater that that suffered by other property owners in the same zone under the terms of the ordinance.

* That the special conditions and circumstances do not result from the actions of the applicant.

* That granting the requested variance will not confer on the applicant any special use or other privilege that is denied by the ordinance, lands structures or buildings in the same zone.

The deficiency in the application was pointed out by Jimmy Gouras, a former city planner for Vicksburg and a spokesman for opponents of QuikTrip’s proposed store.

“The zoning ordinance is very clear about variances,” Gouras said, adding the criteria must be shown in writing.

“In this instance, when the QuikTrip people submitted their application they don’t sy anything about those four different items that are required in your ordinance,” he said. “There are four specific items. In this instance, they didn’t address any of these four items. That’s very important.”

The question about QuikTrip’s application was one part of the debate during the meeting as residents questioned whether the company’s project was a travel center or a truck stop.

QuikTrip representative J. D. Dudley said the reason for the variance is because the proposed store is a multi-use building for storage and employee training and food preparation, adding QuikTrip will hire 25 to 35 employees.

He said the proposed project in Vicksburg will not have amenities for truck drivers. Dudley showed photographs of truck stops and the diagram of the QuikTrip store to demonstrate the difference between the a full-service truck stop and what the company proposes for Vicksburg.

“We cater to short haul truckers; the people in Vicksburg who are running and stop to get lunch in our store,” he said. “So, it’s people who live in Vicksburg and travel through Vicksburg on a daily basis and go home at night.”

He showed a photograph of a C-Store similar to the one proposed for Vicksburg showing minimal trucks parked on the lot and truck parking toward the back of the property.

“This is a corporate store,” he said. “This is a good location for us.”

Gouras questioned the company’s plans pointing out that the proposed location had “40-plus or minus queuing stations for 18-wheelers; that’s not a convenience store. Eight fueling positions for 18-wheelers; that’s not a convenience store, that’s a truck stop. Certified weigh scales; you don’t have weigh scales at convenience stores.”

Gouras and other project opponents also raised concerns about truck traffic on East Clay Street and problems with trucks leaving the store and trying to go west on Interstate 20.

Gouras said the city has no zoning for truck stops in the city. The board, he said, has no authority to grant a variance for a truck stop.

Dudley said the store has only six truck diesel bays with two for cars and said the company was working toward exit and entrance points to the store. He said the truck scales have been removed. He said plans call for RV parking and some truck parking in the rear of the property.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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