BOA denies condition changes for Sonic, planned Sprint Mart

Staff Writer

Plans to renovate the current Sonic restaurant location at 302 Highway 12 East and add a Shell gas station and Sprint Mart convenience store on South Montgomery Street & Highway 12 are temporarily on hold after the Starkville Board of Aldermen denied zoning condition changes at Tuesday's meeting.

Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn made a motion to deny the request and the board tied 3-3 with Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn and Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard voting against the denial, and Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker, Vice Mayor Roy A. Perkins and Vaughn supporting the denial. Mayor Parker Wiseman broke the tie, voting in favor of denying the request. Ward 3 Alderman David Little did not attend the meeting.

"The request was to alter the adjustments in conditions set forth in a 2014 rezoning for the property," said Community Development Director Buddy Sanders.

Sonic and Dutch Oil Company requested the conditions to add a 6-foot privacy fence on the east side of the property be removed and a 7-foot brick wall built on the south side of the property within 90 days. The removal of the privacy fence would allow commercial trucks to access the planned gas station-convenience store.

Two years ago, the property—711 Vine Street—was zoned from residential to a buffer zone, according to a planning document.

Residents on Vine Street complained that allowing the entrance of gas tanker trucks from Vine Street to the planned gas station-convenience store would cause traffic jams during peak periods in the residential area and onto Highway 12.

Vaughn supported the residents, asking board members "do the right thing" and deny the request before the vote.

Residents said that the Sonic plans could also cause more trash from the restaurant to accumulate on Vine Street. In the 2014 rezoning request, Sonic agreed to rearrange garbage cans in the area to help reduce the trash buildup.

In the planning document, Sonic stated it would "replace the existing Sonic Restaurant with a new building on the current Highway 12 property" and the property behind Sonic at 711 Vine Street would be used for a menu board and drive lanes, the document said.

Documents from the 2014 rezoning request show Sonic would "move away from the traditional drive-in restaurant to a mixed drive-in and drive-thru restaurant."

"We don't know what the applicant will do," Sanders said. "I don't know if they are going to appeal the decision of the board or adjust their site plan."

Wiseman recognized that the area was "one of Starkville's oldest neighborhoods" set beside the busiest thoroughfare in the city, prompting him to support the denial.

Planning and Zoning previously made the recommendation to approve the condition changes.