There are a lot of cars at this filling station at Pat Garrison and Guadalupe Streets, but there’s no action. That could change if the city reverses a prohibition against convenience stores in the central business district selling gasoline. Staff photo.
By LANCE DUNCAN
An abandoned Exxon Station at Pat Garrison and Guadalupe Streets could be coming back to life, but the San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) must make new allowances for convenience stores to sell gasoline.
The Exxon station populated by derelict cars is a stunning contrast with the bustling 7-11 across Pat Garrison, in part because the old gas station is in the city’s Central Business Area (CBA) and the 7-11 is not. Thus, the 7-Eleven can operate as a convenience store that sells gasoline, but the abandoned gas station can’t.
The status of the Exxon station came before the P&Z last week because an investor wishes to re-open the facility. However, the city changed its permitted uses in the CBA since the station shut down years ago, so the station couldn’t re-open in its former form without a change in the CBA regulations.
The CBA allows grocery stores, but not convenience stores, to sell gas. P&Z commissioners expressed puzzlement about the distinction, with Commissioner Cecil Pounds going so far as to ask city staff how the inconsistency could have been included in the codes.
Assistant Planning Director Matthew Lewis, himself new to the job, said that he did not know why gas sales had not been allowed, and another staff member indicated that no one on the city planning staff was around when such a change took place. The city planning staff has been through several key personnel changes in the last year.
Thus, commissioners and staff agreed that the prohibition against convenience stores in the CBA selling gasoline probably is an oversight that just hasn’t been tested.
The perplexity among commissioners deepened upon their agreement that convenience stores create better parking arrangements than grocery stores because of smaller lots and higher turnover.
San Marcos resident and Baker-Aiklen employee Steve Ramsey, speaking on behalf of the Exxon owner and a developer wishing to restore the facility, asked the commission for action. The P&Z told Ramsey that the item would first have to go on the agenda as an action item, which would have to wait until the next P&Z meeting.
However, the P&Z apparently has no objections to allowing convenience stores within the CBA to sell gasoline, so the matter could be settled by a final city council action before the end of August.
Ramsey was happy about the proactive response from the P&Z, saying “the city is showing that they are business friendly and that they are wanting development to occur.”
Ramsey said the owner of the Exxon station shut down the business to take care of his ailing wife some years ago and the site has since been used for a mechanic service. Ramsey said the owner and new developer believe the reinstatement of the convenience store with gas sales would be an improvement in the CBA, and would be more visually pleasing as well.
Commissioner Jim Stark questioned a provision in the zoning code defining convenience stores as approximately 2,500 square feet large.
“We’re not just talking about the university Exxon,” Stark said. “We’re talking about convenience stores in the downtown area.”
Commissioners agreed that the size limitation is arbitrary, and Lewis said the definition would be brought before the P&Z for revision at a future meeting.Email | Print