Permit upheld for Road Runner gas station on former Mr. Burger site

A sign announcing a Planning Commission meeting stands along North Street near the intersection of Garland Avenue on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. (Flyer photo/Todd Gill)

FAYETTEVILLE — Plans for a new Road Runner gas station can continue to move forward, for now, at the former Mr. Burger site off Garland Avenue.

The Planning Commission on Monday voted 6-2 to deny an appeal of a grading permit that was issued for the project last month.

The appeal was led by a community group called Fayetteville Strong, who said a gas station would diminish the scenic character and quality of the surrounding neighborhood and the city as a whole.

The group said it contests several variances for the development that were approved by the commission in July to allow the gas station to be built as planned. Those variances, which included allowances for increased driveway widths and an extension of the maximum internal aisle width, could create dangerous conditions for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, the group said in a letter to staff.

However, city code states that the staff-issued grading permit is the only item that the commission can relitigate, said Blake Pennington, senior assistant city attorney.

“The variances have been approved and it’s too late to reconsider those at this time,” said Pennington.

He said the group may ask a City Council member to sponsor an appeal of the variances after Monday’s decision.

“I read the appeal letter as basically this being a vehicle to get those variances in front of the City Council,” Pennington said.

Road Runner plans to construct an approximately 3,500-square-foot convenience store on the site with associated parking, EV chargers, and a canopy large enough for eight gas pumps, according to city records.

The former Mr. Burger site is seen at the corner of North Street and Lindell Avenue on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. (Flyer photo/Todd Gill)

Gas stations are an allowed use for the site under the property’s commercial zoning district. The site, which also includes a lot to the west – was home to a gas station for many years before being redeveloped as a Little Caesar’s.

Commissioners Andrew Brink, Fred Gulley, Joseph Holcomb, Mary McGetrick, Brad Payne and Sarah Sparkman voted to deny the appeal. Jimm Garlock and Mary Madden voted in support. Commissioner Porter Winston was not at Monday’s meeting.

“I do think this (proposed development) will lessen the quality of the area and preempt a much better development in the long term,” said Madden. Garlock agreed, and said he also believes a gas station would compound an already dangerous traffic situation.

McGetrick said while she sympathizes with some of the points that had been made, the time to argue against the variances was when they were first discussed by the commission in July. The technical aspects of the grading permit were met by the developer, McGetrick said, so she couldn’t support the appeal.

Mr. Burger closed its location on the site in February 2016. The drive-in style restaurant was the last remaining Mr. Burger of several locations that once operated in town over the years.

The building later housed two restaurants – Star BurgerHaus and NWA Gyros – before being demolished earlier this year.

Mr. Burger as seen in February 2016 (Flyer photo/File)