City looks to reject business owner’s appeal

bbashioum@demo-mo.comSeptember 26, 2013 

A Harrisonville business owner is upset that Missouri Department of Transportation officials are suggesting to close off a main entrance to a major retail shopping area he owns.

Tension in city hall grew strong during the Sept. 23 Board of Aldermen meeting after Public Works Director Jerry Gibbs said his staff wishes to reject an appeal made by Gas Light Plaza owner Tim Soulis in the matter.

“Access is everything to a business,” Soulis pleaded to the aldermen.

As part of improvements to be made in the upcoming 291/71 Highway corridor improvement project, it’s MoDOT’s goal to improve traffic flow in a portion of North Commercial Street and has recommended shutting down Gas Light’s west driveway.

MoDOT is planning to install a lighted traffic signal at Plaza Drive and Gibbs says the driveway is simply too close to the intersection.

In turn, Soulis said MoDOT’s plan proposes that the shopping area’s current east driveway would be expanded, striping would channel traffic and a nose would be added to keep vehicles from cutting the corners.

Harrisonville’s city engineer, along with Gibbs, and Community Development Director Rick DeLuca are supportive of MoDOT’s recommended solution. They say the elimination of conflict points close to an intersection follows good access management practices.

“It does create value for the city, but it takes away value from Gas Light,” Soulis said. “They’ve offered zero dollars to close this driveway. In my opinion, that is absolutely unacceptable.”

While he recognizes the importance of safety, Soulis says shutting down one of the four entrances has the potential for the shopping area to lose customers and would result in a loss of the business investment he’s made.

Gas Light Plaza has the potential to house up to 29 businesses, and currently is home to about 150 jobs.

“It’s a very vibrant center when you throw in those measures,” Soulis said. “Honoring an existing business investments in our community and protecting these business assets should be a high priority for the design criteria and it’s implementation.”

Alderman David Dickerson supported Soulis’ plea.

“He’s giving up a valuable asset,” he said.

Soulis has appealed the plans to eliminate the driveway, and has since proposed relocating the driveway a few yards east, about 100 feet from the proposed intersection, and establishing a right-in and right-out channelization design that would eliminate drivers from making left turns into and out of the retail area.

“Ideal state may not be achievable but we can make some significant gains,” Soulis said.

Gibbs was against that idea, too, because the driveway would go over a culvert.

“MoDOT had a number of concerns with having the driveway located over the culvert,” he said.

City Administrator Keith Moody also added his thoughts to the conversation.

“By putting in a right-in, right-out close to a signaled intersection, even though it reduces the number of conflicts, it still provides the opportunity for conflicts where a person is driving through a signaled light intersection and they don’t expect that they will have to stop right away,” Moody said.

After a nearly 40-minute deliberation, Mayor Kevin Wood concluded with a request for engineers to look at making the area a right-in entrance only from Commercial Street.

“Go figure out a right-in and we’ll see what it looks like,” Wood said.

In other meeting business, Alderman made the following actions:

Approved the annual operating budget and objectives for the city of Harrisonville for the fiscal year beginning Jan. 1, 2014, and ending on Dec. 31, 2014.

Approved setting new water/sewer rates for commercial and residential customers at $10.40 for the first 1,000 gallons and $ 0.675 per additional 100 gallons to become effective for all billings due on or after Jan. 1, 2014.

Approved setting the new solid waste rate at a charge of $12.25 per month at a dwelling.

Approved a resolution authorizing the city administrator to enter into a contract with Hettinger Excavating for the purpose of replacing the Washington Street Water Line in an amount not to exceed $420,620.

Approved a resolution authorizing the city administrator to execute into an agreement with Young’s Waterproofing and Construction for the purpose of completing sidewalk, curb and gutter repairs in an amount not to exceed $83,992.30.

Approved a resolution authorizing the city administrator to execute into an agreement with Lochner Inc. for the purpose of updating the current airport layout plan in an amount not to exceed $147,700.

Approved a resolution authorizing the city administrator to execute into an agreement with Lochner Inc. for the purpose of designing South-T Hanger at Lawrence A. Smith Memorial Airport.

Approved a resolution authorizing the city of Harrisonville to accept state block grant funding from MoDOT for the purpose of improving Lawrence A. Smith Memorial Airport.

Approved an ordinance providing for an exception to Ordinance 600.160 (Employee Liquor Permits Required) to exempt server permits for those with a permit under 600.030 or 600.060.

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