Casey’s gets OK despite concerns about location

Port commission approves plans for convenience store, gas station at corner of Grand Ave., Hwy. LL

A Casey's General Store has been proposed fro land Ozaukee County owns at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Highway LL in Port.
Ozaukee Press Staff

A Casey’s General Store proposed for Port Washington’s west side got the go-ahead from the Plan Commission last week, even as members expressed concerns about the location and the potential impact it would have on Highway 33.

The commission approved a building and site plan as well as a conditional use grant for the business on a 6-1 vote with member Eric Ryer dissenting.

“I like the project, I just don’t like the location,” said Ryer, who noted that a TriPar gas station located near the proposed site at the corner of Grand Avenue, which is part of Highway 33, and Highway LL wasn’t successful.

“Have you looked at other sites? Is there land on the north side to support this?”

But other commission members said the site is ideal, noting that the west side is the only entrance to the city without a gas station and convenience store.

“I think this type of business is different from the other ones that were there,” City Administrator Mark Grams said, noting Casey’s offers more products than those.

The closest retailer for people living on the west side of the city is in Saukville, he added.

“I don’t want them to go to Saukville. I’d rather have them in Port,” Grams said.

Casey’s has a contract to purchase the southern six acres of the former ramp land at the corner of highways 33 and LL from Ozaukee County for its 4,686-square-foot store.

The fact that the location is fairly close to the interstate and on a main thoroughfare helped attract Casey’s to the site, said Kendra Meyer, a real estate and store development associate with the company. 

 The nearby roundabout that slows traffic and increasing residential growth in the area were also factors, she said.    

 Commission member Tony Matera passed around a letter by Joe Eernisse of Eernisse Funeral Homes expressing concern about the possibility that the increased traffic Casey’s draws could prompt the state Department of Transportation to close their driveway and the corresponding median cut in front of his funeral home.

“What concerns me the most is the potential for increased traffic accidents at an access that was not meant for this purpose,” Eernisse wrote.

Lauren Downing, project manager with ARC Design Resources, which is designing the store for Casey’s, said the company has been calling the DOT daily to clarify the situation.

“We are working through this,” she said. Preliminary numbers from the company show 31 cars turning left off Highway 33 during the peak hour each day, Downing said, adding more right turns are expected.

Grams questioned whether Casey’s would be prepared to install a left-turn lane on Highway 33 if the state requires it, something Meyer said they would look at.

“Ultimately it has to be the right business decision,” she said.

Commission member Ron Voigt, noting the city has an interest in seeing the land developed, suggested the city work to ensure the DOT leaves the driveway and median open in the area, but Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said that’s something Ozaukee County should be working on.

“They own the land and are selling the lot,” he said.

Vanden Noven said he doesn’t believe traffic is a major concern at the site.

“It’s 25 mph there,” he said. “I don’t see a lot of cars queuing up there. There are two lanes (on Highway 33) there, and Highway 33 could easily be serviced by one lane of traffic in each direction.”

A suggestion from the Design Review Board that Casey’s consider splitting the canopy over its six gas pumps into halves to break up the facade, was considered by the commission, but Downing said the company would prefer not to do that.

Commission members instead asked that several small Casey’s signs be placed on the canopy instead of one, saying that may ease the horizontal line.

Matera also asked that the company install significant landscaping on the property to soften the appearance of the store.

“This is a gateway coming in to the city,” he said. “The more green we can get around there, the better.” 

The conditional use grant would allow Casey’s to be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., although Meyer said they would like the option to have pump-pay during off hours in the future.

Downing said Casey’s hopes to purchase the property by the end of August and begin construction in fall. It will take three to four months to complete the building.

If approved, this would be the second Casey’s General Store in the area. The gas stations and convenience stores chain received permission from the Village of Fredonia to build a general store at the corner of Highland and Martin drives earlier this year. 

That store is expected to open in fall.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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