A Circle K convenience store and gas station is slated to open later this year at the site of a former 7-Eleven store at 3636 Heritage Club Drive, which has been vacant for about six years.
After an exchange of several compromises and counteroffers, members of the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission and Circle K executives reached an agreement July 11 concerning construction of the proposed Circle K store, the second in the Hilliard market.
Jim Hansen, director of operations for Circle K, said the site was selected based on traffic volume. He said the store should be open for business during the third quarter or "sometime in the fall."
Circle K executives lobbied to inherit the identical variances that were issued to 7-Eleven when it opened, but the city has since amended its code to prohibit internally lit signs.
Circle K representatives agreed to use externally lit signs and also relented on their proposal to paint the brick structure to match the colors of other Circle K locations.
City officials agreed to the removal of all the trees at the site, identified as diseased by a landscaper Circle K hired to design the new site. Shrubs and other low-height topiaries will be installed in place of the cut trees.
Upon hearing the original proposal, Mayor Don Schonhardt, who is a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, told the Circle K executives that community image took precedence over the corporate image in this case.
The other four commission members present shared the mayor's concern and were opposed to the proposal to paint the brick building.
"It's too bright for my tastes, especially painting the building," Thomas Lyden said.
But the Circle K executives said the company needed some consideration for its investment in the abandoned site.
"We view this project as a risk for us and to move forward, we need some of the risk mitigated," said Rich Lawrence, director of real estate for Circle K.
Lawrence said the trees on the site obscure the storefront from Main Street, which is immediately to the east.
Tom Roig, of T & B Landscapes, told commission members Circle K representatives had hoped to save some of the existing spruce trees and crabapple trees at the site, but all were found to be diseased.
"Within about four or five years, they will all be dead," Roig said.
Some of the trees would have been removed anyway to improve visibility, Roig said.
He said in place of the approximately 250 caliper inches of trees to be removed, low-elevation topiary plants will be installed, including purple leaf sand cherry trees, day lilies and crimson barberry shrubs.
In other business July 11, commission members approved one-year extensions on variances to allow subdivision development signs at three locations; approved a lot split and deed transfer for three parcels in the 3500 and 3600 blocks of Alton Darby Creek Road; and approved an addition to a residence in the 4100 block of Main Street.