A conditional use permit for a new retail gasoline station at the intersection of Highway 260 and Goodnow Road in the parking lot of the Ponderosa Shopping Center was reluctantly approved Monday by the Town of Payson Planning and Zoning Commission.
After the motion passed 4-1 with one abstention, commission Vice Chairman Robert Flibotte, conducting the meeting in Chairman Ruth Craig's absence, asked the town engineering department to take a close look at the commission's comments regarding potential traffic flow problems and make every effort to improve the design.
"Nobody feels good about this application," Flibotte said. "It may be legal, but that part of the town is turning into a real bottleneck."
The matter was tabled at the Jan. 15 meeting because La Ron Garrett, town public works engineer was not present to answer traffic flow questions raised by the commission. While Garrett was also unable to attend this meeting, he did prepare a memorandum addressing those issues for the commission.
In it, Garrett noted that a proposed traffic signal at the four-way intersection of Highway 260, the driveway at Wells Fargo and the Payson Village Shopping Center, which is slated to be installed during fiscal year 2002-2003, "will provide a second easy left turn access onto (Highway) 260." He also said the traffic increase resulting from the new gas station will not be as heavy as some other businesses that "could go here such as a restaurant."
Garrett also provided the commission with a copy of a letter from Safeway, which will own the gasoline facility, and the Pederson Group, which is the developer, promising not to allow fuel delivery trucks to utilize Granite Dells Road. "We have had some preliminary discussions with Safeway about modifications/expansion" that will address the current problems with the Granite Dells/ Highway 260 intersection," Garrett said, "however at this point it is only in the talking stage...."
Besides a general increase in traffic flow, commissioner Frank Daria, who cast the lone dissenting vote against the facility, explained that he also objected to the design because traffic coming into and out of the gasoline facility at Goodnow Road would have to "pass through the eye of a needle" rather than having a separate entrance and exit situated some distance apart.
Joseph Salvatore, a spokesperson for the project, said that the traffic flow issues are "no more difficult than any other gas station or parking lot." According to Salvatore, the new gasoline station is part of a nationwide cross-marketing strategy by Safeway Corporation and will not generate that much additional traffic.
Traffic patterns at eight such Safeway gasoline facilities already up and running in Arizona indicate that at least one-third of all Safeway grocery customers will also purchase gas on the same shopping trip. Salvatore said that Safeway cardholders will receive a four cent per gallon discount on gasoline purchases.