The possibility of a Kum & Go convenience store in Conway cleared another hurdle Monday night when the Conway Planning Commission voted to recommend two proposals for rezoning of the area on Dave Ward Drive next to the University of Central Arkansas.
The commission voted 6-2 in favor of a rezoning from office space (O-2) and residential (R-2) to commercial (C-2), and the group voted 6-2 to allow a conditional use permit for the property which would allow a fueling station and the ability to operate 24 hours a day. Commission members Mark Lewis and Kimberly Gardner voted against each proposal while members Chris Steplock, Matthew Brown, Craig Cloud, Lee Washington, Jon Arms and Anne Tucker voted for both proposals. Commission member Jeff Allender was absent, and the commission is currently working with nine members after the departure of Tony Davis.
The public comment was split fairly evenly with some former residents of the neighborhood claiming that the area has ceased being a good residential spot and welcoming a new convenience store. Others who still live in the area cited traffic and safety concerns.
If zoning for the store is ultimately approved by the Conway City Council, it will sit next to the UCA campus, and extensive discussions have occurred between the company and school officials about the aesthetics of the store. Final sketches were shown to those in attendance, and company spokesman Dave Lemons said the store would mirror the campus.
"It will be unlike any other Kum & Go out there right now," he said.
Lewis, who opposed the zoning, said he was not opposed to Kum & Go locating in Conway, even along Dave Ward Drive, but he felt the proposed location was the wrong place.
"There are still areas along that drive that are wonderful for residences, and I don’t want people to think their neighborhood is going to be next on the chopping block," Lewis said.
Conway attorney Frank Shaw, representing the company, said the area was placed on a 2004 comprehensive land use map for Conway as one that would eventually be zoned as commercial.
UCA President Tom Courtway said that although he did not want to comment on either side of the debate, he pointed out to the commission that the company had been very receptive to the school’s requests about appearance.
Concerning traffic in and around South Donaghey and Elizabeth, company officials said that delivery trucks would be able to approach from the larger streets and not have to use Elizabeth.
The ability to remain open 24 hours was a sticking point, but many on the commission said that the availability for students who may not keep the same hours as working adults and may not have transportation would be a benefit.
"I know my son stays up very late during school," Arms said.
The Kum & Go request will be heard at the city council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
In other business, the commission also approved a zoning request from Danny and Linda Linn from C-3 and R-1 to planned unit development (PUD) for Linn’s Auto and Equipment. A request by Dennis Spradlin was asked by the applicant to remain in committee until August.