School Board Takes Opposition of Kum & Go Plan to Cedar Rapids City Council

By Rick Smith, Reporter

Construction work continues on a Kum & Go being built near I-380 in North Liberty on Wednesday, December 2, 2009. (Crystal LoGiudice/The Gazette).

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Most votes of the Cedar Rapids City Council are unanimous ones.

The council’s Tuesday meeting, though, is apt to see the council mix it up a little as council members decide if the Kum & Go convenience store chain will be allowed to build a new store at 1420 Mount Vernon Rd. SE.

The Cedar Rapids school board and some others oppose the store construction at the site, which is too near the property of McKinley Middle School, the school board says.

The board has raised questions about alcohol, tobacco and snacks sold at convenience stores as well as traffic concerns.

Some neighbors say a new store will help put a fresh face on a tired gateway to the Wellington Heights Neighborhood.

The Tuesday vote is an interesting, unusual one that centers on the store’s site plan. The site already is zoned to allow convenience stores.

On the site-plan matter, the City Planning Commission has final say, and the commission has voted 4-2 to approve the site plan.

However, opponents can appeal to the City Council, which the school board and former educator Kathleen Dowd Ulrich have done.

The City Council vote will be on whether to approve the appeal, not on the whether to approve the site plan.

Council member Scott Olson will not be voting because he, a commercial Realtor, has represented the Kum & Go company.

In the event the eight remaining council members split 4-4, a 4-4 vote to deny the school board appeal means the appeal fails and the store plans can move ahead.

On the other hand, a 4-4 vote would have defeated the store’s plans if the council was voting on the site plan and not simply voting on the appeal of the earlier commission vote.

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