The Rolla City Council is considering a proposal regarding the rezoning of three lots located along Faulkner avenue and vacating a 186 foot stretch of that street. The proposal comes from the owners of the Sonic Drive-In, currently located on South Bishop (U.S. 63), who see the area as an opportune space to build a bigger and better facility.
The Rolla City Council is considering a proposal regarding the rezoning of three lots located along Faulkner avenue and vacating a 186 foot stretch of that street. The proposal was read during their most recent meeting on Monday, July 17, and will have it’s second reading on August 7.
The proposal comes from the owners of the Sonic Drive-In, currently located on South Bishop (U.S. 63), who see the area as an opportune space to build a bigger and better facility. The goal is to take a section of lots located on either side of Faulkner, and combine them into a single plot to host a new Sonic complex.
The lots on the Bishop side of Faulkner are already zoned as C-3 lots, those reserved for highway commercial use for businesses like Sonic. Lots four, five and six on the Rucker side of Faulker however, are currently C-1 zones, which are for neighborhood business districts. In order to construct a business such as the proposed Sonic Complex, the area would need to have a C-3 zoning.
The first part of Sonic’s proposal is to have these C-1 zones redesigned as C-3. Following that, the 186-foot stretch of Faulkner Avenue lying between the lots would have to be vacated.
Rolla City Administrator, John Butz, explained the impact the rezoning and street vacation would have and what steps the council has taken to hear the opinions of those who would be affected.
“The council has to make a couple of decisions,” he said. “The rezoning I don’t think is an issue…the street vacation’s not a slam-dunk because it is mid-block.”
Butz explained that vacating a street is a statutory, formal process that eliminates the right of way. The street would become part of the development and no longer a public street.
There were initial concerns regarding traffic flow to surrounding residential buildings that currently have street access all around them. However, the impact to these areas would be minimal, according to Butz, as they would retain access on their major entry points.
“We would never vacate a street that would deny someone access to their property,” said Butz, explaining that in this case, Faulkner is a little used street and as long as those properties have access to the adjoining area, the council is able to consider the option.
“It’s not uncommon for us to vacate streets,” Butz said. “We’ve done that in many places around town over it’s history. It’s not frequently done but it happens periodically.”
Butz gave the example of Walgreens, currently located along Bishop Avenue. The company had acquired different lots under a contract, similar to what Sonic has done with the lots on the stretch of Faulkner, before constructing the building that stands there now. Butz mentioned how they kept a portion of Spillman Avenue open to a point, similar to how Faulkner would end up operating.
“This is an area that’s very much in need of development,” said Butz. “This is a classic area that’s pretty worn down, so building something new in there would be desirable.” Sonic has already contracted with the owners of the lots potentially being replaced to take them over, depending on the rezoning and approval of the street vacation.
Prior to the July 17 meeting, property owners located near the affected area of Faulkner were given a notice explaining Sonic’s desire to renovate the area, and were given a platform to express their thoughts and concerns before the council held their first reading of the proposal. The council will have the opportunity to vote on the proposal after the second reading on August 7, but could put off the vote if they so choose. The vacation of the street is depended on the development of the new Sonic complex, and will not be vacated should the company decide not to construct a new building.
John Butz encouraged those with comment to connect with their council members via email.
“We always invite comment,” he said. “We continue to encourage others to give feedback.