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    Des Moines C-stores Denied Time

    A commission rejected major retailers' plea for more time to alter a proposal on convenience store regulations.

    DES MOINES, Iowa -- Representatives from area convenience chains -- including Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip; West Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go; Hy-Vee; and Git-N-Go -- were denied time to make changes to proposed regulations for convenience stores in the area by the city Plan and Zoning Commission, the Des Moines Register reported.

    In their rejection, commission members voiced concerns that additional time would create constructive recommendations, according to the report.

    "It bothers me that after so much work has gone into this that somebody comes in and their comment is, 'I don't like it,'" commission chairman Dann Flaherty told the paper. "Well, you know what? Tough. If you have suggestions, we want to hear it. We want the specifics. They don't have any specifics."

    QuikTrip's representative, Larry James Jr., an attorney for Dickinson Mackaman Tyler & Hagen, asked for an extra month to negotiate, the report stated.

    "I don't see this ordinance as clear and specific," he told the paper. "I see it as an ordinance that leaves a lot of interpretation."

    Current city code allows city staff members to review and approve convenience store and gas station site plans, provided rezoning isn't required. The proposal would bring the approval process to the public arena, with hearings before the plan and zoning commission, the report stated.

    Last week, Tara Deering-Hansen, corporate communications manager for convenience store operator, Kum & Go, said in a statement the company prides itself on building quality stores that blend well with neighborhoods, the report stated.

    "If these new guidelines are adopted, it will create more challenges for companies like ours to build in Des Moines," she said.

    Officials from Hy-Vee and Git-N-Go convenience stores have expressed similar concerns, according to the report.

    The regulations would provide tighter design guidelines and more public input, and supporters stated the rules ensure that the trend of larger convenience stores wouldn't overwhelm Des Moines neighborhoods, according to the report.

    "It's important for residents to have a say in what's best for their neighborhoods," Kimberly Hansen, president of the North of Grand Neighborhood Association, told the paper. Hansen was part of the Des Moines Neighbors subcommittee that petitioned the City Council to get more public involvement with c-store projects, the report stated.

    "It's my opinion that [convenience stores] are rapidly approaching a size that does not belong in a neighborhood setting anymore," John Morrissey from the Highland Park neighborhood said at a commission meeting last week. "It belongs someplace else."

    The commission's recommendation to approve the code changes is expected to go before the City Council within the next few months, according to the report.

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