Controversial gas station vote put on hold

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - A gas station controversy is brewing in downtown Little Rock over a proposed Mapco at the corner of Broadway & Third Streets. The ordinance to change zoning of the area where the station has selected to go was deferred at Tuesday night's city board meeting.

The issue was supposed to be voted on Tuesday, after the city's planning commission recommended approval for the zoning change in May, despite Little Rock's planning and development director advising against the move.

Lance Hines, Ward 5 city director, made a motion early in the meeting on Tuesday to defer the decision on the gas station for three months. Hines cited Mapco's wishes to listen to community concerns about the store and address them.

"The concept of putting this off to create a new design is not the issue," said Brad Cazort, Ward 4 city director. "It doesn't matter what the design is - the issue is, is this a proper use for this project at this site?"

Joan Adcock, city director at-large, took offense to the deferring vote - citing the dozens of people that turned out to Tuesday's meeting to speak out against the gas station.

"I find this very rude to the citizens who have come down here tonight," said Adcock.

Mapco calls the Third and Broadway location a "state-of-the-art" convenience store, which is supposed to carry fresh food, have an eating area and provide nice landscaping around the property as well.

Several city board members believe the proposed Mapco station will be a boost to Little Rock's tax revenue base and the overall downtown economy - in addition to the store being an overall convenience to people downtown. But opponents believe there will be an increase of loiterers and vagrants at a 24-hour gas station downtown and say the concept doesn't mesh well with the vision of revitalization.

"We've invested a great many staff hours, a great deal of community leadership in thoughtfully looking at what great city we could rebuild," said Kelly Wells, president of the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods. "Trust me, a gas station and an all-night convenience store do not figure into that plan."

Mapco representatives at Tuesday night's meeting declined the opportunity for an interview.