The Boswell Municipal Complex had standing-room-only Monday evening during a meeting of the Bryant Planning Commission. A crowd of residents came to express its disapproval of a planned warehouse project.
Over the course of about 40 minutes, commissioners heard from about a dozen people speaking against the project. Individuals cited concerns such as a decrease in safety and lower properties values, increase in traffic and noise in the area, as well as additional flooding cause by the construction.
"I do understand that a city has to grow to remain viable and healthy, but that growth must be manage as so to protect the image of the city and the quality of life of its citizens. There are other tracts of land where this would fit and would be welcome," said Peter Thompson adding that the warehouse would "send the wrong message" to the thousands of drivers on Interstate 30.
Some residents suggested LKQ add on to its current Bryant location.
The proposed site for the more than 300,000-square-foot LKQ warehouse is located between Interstate 30 and Raymar Road.
According to the business' website, "LKQ Corporation is the leading provider of alternative and specialty parts to repair and accessorize automobiles and other vehicles."
Representatives for the project said the warehouse will be state-of-the-art.
Throughout the meeting, it was noted that the property was currently zoned for a commercial development and that the developers had followed all city requirements.
"When it comes to site plan approval, this commission's role is not one with a lot of discretion," Farmer said at the start of the public comments' portion of the meeting.
He explained the commission's role to the crowd as being similar to a referee.
"They look at the site plan, and they determine whether isn't going to meet our specifications and our regulations the same way a referee is going to decide if the ball went through the uprights (of the goal post)," Farmer said.
After hearing a slew of public comments along with a lengthy discussion with city employees and representatives for the project, the commission unanimously approved the project.
Follow the vote, the crowd of angry residents filed outside and could be heard yelling as the meeting continued.
According to representatives for the project, studies have been conducted to determine how the new building will affect nearby neighbors including traffic and drainage studies.
Ernie Peters, an engineer who performed the traffic study, said he estimated that the business will have 32 trucks of different sizes along with several employee vehicles coming to and from the warehouse. Majority of the traffic will be oriented toward Interstate 30.
He said the project will have 364 vehicles trips per day which is a "small traffic volume" compared to the 8,000 to 9,000 trips per day at a Walmart box store.
Representatives for the project also said that there will be a "undisturbed" buffer between the warehouse and nearby neighbors.
Andy Francis, who represents the property owner, as well as Jim Nelson, who was representing LKQ, said they plan to meet with neighbors after the approval.
"LKQ has been a good neighbor, and we will continue to be a good neighbor," Nelson said.
When asked by Commissioner Rick Johnson what ideas he had to compromise with neighbor residents, Nelson said the business will host an open house for the community after construction is complete.
Nelson noted that management at the current Bryant location requested the warehouse stay in Bryant even though locations in other states were proposed. He also mentioned that if the warehouse had been built in another state, some current Bryant employee may be out of a job, if they did not want to move.
With the commission's approval, construction for the project may begin.
Other items approved included:
•A rezoning for a property at 4214 Springhill Road from R2 to R1S. A sidewalk waiver was also approved for the property. In lieu of a sidewalk, the developer will plan additional trees in the subdivision.
•2020 dates for meeting of the Planning Commission and Development Review Committee.
•The commission voted for Jim Erwin to continue his role chairman of the commission and Rick Johnson to continue serving as vice chairman.
A discussion of a proposed Cornerstone Montessori Christian Academy at 4910 Springhill Road was pulled from the agenda at the request of the developer.
All meetings of the commission are open to the public and attendance is encouraged.