School District, Mayor Oppose "Kum & Go" Near McKinley Middle School
By Rick Smith, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Mayor Ron Corbett said the appeals would be coming, and they are.
The McKinley Middle School’s PTA sent a letter to the City Council on Wednesday appealing last week’s decision by the City Planning Commission to approve the building of a new Kum & Go convenience store at 1420 Mount Vernon Rd. SE near McKinley Middle School.
The Cedar Rapids school district already has filed its appeal of the commission decision, which came on a 4-2 vote. Three members of the commission were absent from its meeting.
Under city ordinances, the City Planning Commission has final say on certain site development plans like the Kum & Go case, though opponents are able to appeal a commission decision to the City Council.
On other development matters, such as change of zoning classifications, the commission makes recommendations to the council, but the council must vote on the issue.
The property at 1420 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, which is the former site of Crescent Electric Supply Co., is already correctly zoned for a Kum & Go store.
Objectors say they don’t want a convenience store, which sells alcohol, tobacco and snacks, in proximity to a middle school.
Some neighbors who have come out in support of the store say it will bring new investment and put a fresh face on an unattractive corner that sits between the Wellington Heights and Oak Hill neighborhoods.
No one disputes that this piece of Mount Vernon Road SE is a busy four-lane street.
School officials say the store would prompt more students on foot to cut through traffic to get to and from the store.
Kathy Ulrich, a retired educator who lives at 1400 36th St. SE, told the City Council this week that there have been 32 traffic accidents in recent years at the corners of 14th Street SE and 15th Street SE on Mount Vernon Road SE where the proposed Kum & Go store will be located. She believes the new store will increase accidents.
Ulrich said she and others also will appeal the City Planning Commission decision.
Mayor Ron Corbett said this week that he will side with the school board, school administrators, PTA and teachers in opposing the store’s construction.
On the other hand, council member Monica Vernon, chairwoman of the council’s Development Committee, said she needs more information about the project. The site is zoned to take a convenience store, she noted.
Corbett expects the nine-member council to take up the matter in the coming weeks.
In their letter of appeal to the City Council, the McKinley PTA officers state:
"The students who attend McKinley Middle School range in age from 11 to 14. Having a convenience store like this Kum & Go directly across the street from their school will undoubtedly be an attraction and a distraction before, during, and after their school day. We ask that you consider the negative impact this store will have on the safety, health and education of McKinley’s students and not allow this proposed development to proceed."
The letter is signed by Jane Hutchins, PTA president, Suzy DeWolf, vice president, Nichole McGuire, secretary, and Theresa Wake, treasurer.
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