Could this long-empty Hamilton building become a gas station? Pumps request stirs debate

Eaton Market’s proposal to add four gas pumps on a neighboring Eaton Avenue property now occupied by a long-empty building have caused concerns among some who live nearby and some on Hamilton City Council who are worried about traffic issues.

Onkar Investments LLC, which owns the Eaton Market at 1009 Eaton Ave., bought the vacant 5,100-square-foot building at 1019 Eaton Ave. 12 months ago intending to demolish it and replace it with four fuel pumps and an overhead canopy featuring a Shell logo.

During a public hearing last week, council member Tim Naab said traffic in the area can be congested, and he believes the proposed change would worsen that.

“I’ve been through that area,” Naab said. “Just heard from a resident regarding traffic on Eaton Avenue that is contiguous to the properties that are being considered before us.

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“I went down yesterday, and walked that property — front, back, sides, and things. I cannot see that this is the right thing in that area, based on congestion. At night, the lights from the canopy of the gas station that’s proposed for that site will overshine the apartment complex immediately to the rear of it.”

Naab noted the sidewalks in the immediate area can be crowded with students from nearby Hamilton High School and Wilson Junior High School.

Naab said nearby convenience stores, as well as Neal’s Grab ‘N’ Go barbeque at 997 Eaton Ave. and the nearby Flub’s ice cream shop, “all draw considerable traffic on Eaton Avenue at this point, whether it’s foot traffic and/or automobile traffic.”

“I just don’t see that the proposal for another gas station in that proximity of an already very, very busy area is the right thing to be considered for that site,” Naab said.

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Council Member Kathleen Klink agreed, noting there is a gasoline station a block away, “and my concern also rests with the Beltline,” she said.

The Beltline bike path, which is eventually to be 2.96 miles long from the former Champion Paper mill to near Millville Avenue, is to have its first half-mile segment built this year, running from the area of Flub’s to Cleveland Avenue.

“That (bike path) also will increase the amount of traffic, as people try to cross over Eaton, whichever direction they’re going on the bike path,” Klink said.

Mayor Pat Moeller said the city’s planning commission, which approved the proposed change, had good discussions about the project with citizens. Moeller said one citizen mentioned “potential light pollution, but it sounded like that would be taken care of.”

There are plans to add trash containers along Eaton Avenue “to help the litter issue, because there are a lot of retail places where people aren’t throwing the trash away from things they buy at the retail locations,” Moeller said.

The planning commission required the number of curb cuts that access the street from the property be reduced to two, which Moeller said should help alleviate traffic issues.

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“I think all of us on council need to kind-of do our homework and take a look at it,” Moeller said. “My concerns are mainly about people turning left out of Speedway, left out of McDonald’s and left out of this. Those are some pretty dangerous left turns if you’re not totally focused on where you’re driving, because those are busy lanes you’re crossing when you’re turning left.”

City Manager Joshua Smith told council that “I truly believe this would be a massive improvement on Eaton Avenue. I think this is a great opportunity to do something.

“I certainly heard your concerns tonight. We will sit down with planning staff and see if we can maybe alleviate some of those, but this corridor in particular has really been high on my list for one that certainly needs a refresh, and this would go a long way toward making this corridor nicer, with demolition of the building that’s to the north, and cleaning up that site.”

Council held the first of two considerations of the proposal May 8, with a vote scheduled for May 22.

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