Big Rapids planners nix gas station proposal, again

BIG RAPIDS – Big Rapids planners and residents agree on an urban plot: They don’t want to build a gas station there.

This week planners voted for the city commission to reject a motion by Krist Oil Company, Inc. to move three lots along North State Street from RR Restricted Residential to C3 Commercial.

“Krist Oil has a contract to purchase all three of these properties for future use as a gas station and grocery store,” said Paula Priebe, the city’s community development manager. “This is not allowed in the RR, Restricted Residential District. You are calling for a change in the zoning plan that would enable the desired use. “


Local residents spoke out against the motion at a public hearing this week.

Pamela Flemming, who lives in the nearby residential area, told planners she had explored her neighborhood and all of the people she spoke to were against the rezoning.

“I’ve lived here for 20 years, and the houses on the other side of Marion and my block were once deserted,” said Flemming. “Families have renovated these houses and now we have a lively family district. We have wonderful backyards that would now face the gas station. “

Flemming said she doesn’t see a need for another gas station or additional restaurants in the area as there is an Admiral gas station and restaurants nearby.

“I just don’t think there’s a good reason to build a gas station in this part of town,” she said. “I would ask the people who make this decision if they would like a whole block in their neighborhood so they could have a gas station and a supermarket. I think your answer would be no. “

Flemming suggested that the company look at other neighborhoods that are currently designated for commercial use – such as the Sav-A-Lot area.

“When my family comes to visit, they see a vibrant community full of culture, art, music and wonderful parks,” she said. “You don’t come here to see the urban sprawl and that’s the beginning in my opinion.”

Many of those who spoke during the public comment shared the same views and said they saw no need for another gas station in the area. There are better places in town that would be more suitable, they said.

Michelle Wise suggested considering the property directly across from State Street, which is already classified for commercial use and has no residential area next to it.

“We have an easement alley that runs between the buildings and an alley behind it,” said Wise. “There would be enough space for them and for the needs of the community.”

Other attendees raised the issue of safety and increased traffic in the area, should the application be approved, including the possibility of accidents that would release hazardous waste into the environment and the increased risk to children living in the area Cycle.

“In addition to the many possible accidents that release hazardous waste into the environment, it will also lead to significant and dangerous changes in traffic patterns,” said local resident Jacqeline Holman. “We have children who ride bicycles in the alley and on the blocks where construction will take place, and the increased traffic will be dangerous for them.”

Holman said she doesn’t think the proposal meets the standards for changing the zoning ordinance.

“Three of the four sides of this property are surrounded by residential areas and the welfare of these families is at risk from the hazardous materials at this gas station,” she said.


Craig Richardson of GEI Consultants, who represents Krist Oil, told those present that they understood that there were many concerns, and if the project were approved, those things would be addressed.

“The safety component is well monitored and there are very high standards for the use of gas tanks, including double-walled tanks, explosion-proof fittings and safety monitors,” said Richardson. “Traffic flow and safety are all things that would be addressed continuously throughout the project if they were given the necessary permits.”

Joe McNally of ReMax Together, who is representing the company on the property transaction, said Krist Oil is a great company and they really want to make this work in Big Rapids.

“This is Krist Oil’s second foray into Big Rapids,” said Richardson. “The first didn’t work for a number of reasons, but what came out of it is that there is certainly a demand and a need for what they have to offer on this side of the city.”

In addition, the company has taken into account the BR lunchbox located on the property in its plans if the project progresses.

“Krist Oil has agreed to keep her there and work around her,” he said. “Another plan is to include them in the building with a new restaurant being built inside the building.”

Stan Atanasoff, president of Krist Oil, told those in attendance that they are going to build a beautiful complex with brick and landscaping, and if the neighbors want a privacy fence they will accommodate it.

“We are here to serve the public,” said Atanasoff. “We are a good neighbor and run a first-class business. We’re going to be spending about $ 2 million here, and taxes will be about $ 30,000 a year for the city of Big Rapids. “

“I want to run a business,” he continued. “I don’t think people should tell us how to do it as long as we obey the city’s laws. I don’t think the people who oppose this should tell Krist Oil how to spend their money. “


The planners agreed that the project did not fit the property in question.

“Although this property is earmarked for future C3 properties, there is residential property right behind it,” said planner Rory Roddick. “If you look at the C3 properties on State Street, they have no direct contact with residential properties. For this reason, this side of the street is RR and the other side of the street is C3.

“I don’t see a good reason why, with the amount of commercial property in Big Rapids, we need to convert our residential buildings to C3 just to appease someone,” he added. “I am having a hard time reallocating this property at this point as we would seem to be making a recommendation to help a specific group of people rather than helping the neighborhood.”

Ruddick reiterated that there are other dilapidated properties that could be redeveloped and used for this type of project that are already designated for commercial use.

“I can see where it would be nice to bring money into the area,” said planner Sarah Montgomery. “I think improving the city is important, but it would be nice to have a grocery store on the corner or something instead of a gas station.”

Planning Commission chairman Chris Jane said he didn’t think the project was well thought out and agreed that there were other places in town that would better serve the company’s needs.

“Demolishing apartments when we were just paying for a study that told us we needed more housing seems like a bad idea,” said Jane.

“I don’t think this particular block is a great place for this type of project,” he continued. “It would have a major negative impact on the rest of the block and I understand the concerns of residents. Growth is good, but I don’t think it is. It just doesn’t feel right to me. “

Jane added that if Krist Oil wants to be a part of this community he hopes they would be willing to look at other locations for their project.

Krist Oil Company, Inc. had previously made an offer to the city to purchase the former Hanchett property at 906 N. State St. for the purpose of building a gas station and grocery store.

The city commissioners rejected the offer after many expressed reservations about the planned use of the property. Many in the community said that the property should be reserved for some kind of residential and retail project. Mayor Tom Hogenson agreed that the community wanted something new and different in addition to industrial use.

The final decision on whether to approve the zoning change application for the State Street property will be made by the city commission at its 6:30 p.m. Monday meeting.

For information on attending the meeting remotely, visit or call 231-592-4020.