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City doesn't find gas station's request to be convenient

Panel resists 24-hour operation of store

Oct. 8, 2012

West Allis - A city committee has turned down a request from a gas station and convenience store interested in remaining open 24 hours a day.

Worried that granting such a request would open the door for all-night gas stations anywhere in the city - something the city has guarded against in its ordinances - the West Allis Safety and Development Committee said BP, at 7920 W. National Ave., can allow patrons to pump gas at any time, but for now the convenience store itself must close by 10 p.m.

However, the committee also sent the issue back to staff for a recommendation to consider somewhat longer hours.

Committee members were swayed by city attorney Scott Post's statement that the city's tough standards about gas station store closings would go out the window, if BP's request is approved.

24 hours, but not everywhere

To protect residents, West Allis allows late-night convenience stores only on main arterial roads, making only a few exceptions for 24-hour operations if the reasons are well-documented reasons, Post said.

The BP station is on an arterial, but is not at a major intersection, he said. It's makes a huge difference if a station is mid-block, he added.

The station represents everything that the city has guarded against, Post said. It's surrounded by residences and is across the street from a retirement home.

"It's a precedent-setter for the entire city," agreed Alderman Michael May.

The city allows 24-hour convenience stores at gas stations at 124th Street and National Avenue, 92nd Street and National, 108th Street and Theodore Trecker Way, and 56th Street and Burham Avenue.

Unwelcome neighbors

Two of those are in the 3rd aldermanic district represented by Gary Barczak, who said he would do away with the 24-hour operations, if he could.

"I would do it in a heartbeat," he said. "Traffic and noise in neighborhoods is probably the largest concern in the 3rd District."

But the station on Burnham triggers no complaints, Alderman Vincent Vitale noted.

At last week'spublic hearing on the request to go 24 hours, two residents said their neighborhood has enough to contend with without a 24-hour convenience store. One man said cars zig-zag past homes and a woman said her car was hit while parked on the street only last month. Add a nearby burglary to the mix.

Alderman Marty Weigel worried that the store might eventually become a hangout after bar closing if food is available.

Aiming at that point, the committee wants stronger assurances that the convenience store won't eventually become a restaurant.

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