“We want business in Brookfield,” Brookfield Trustee Dan Suttles said. “We don’t want to be standing with our arms up and saying, ‘Not here.’”
However, township officials find themselves opposing part of a developer’s plan to build a Fast Break gas station and convenience store in the 800-900 block of South Irvine Avenue/Route 62.
IN LLC, a company that gives its address as the Red Dragon convenience store in Niles, bought four properties between May’s Auto and Circle K, and has received demolition permits to tear down the three structures on those properties.
Suttles said three people have been representing the development, Naser Alwanni, Ike Omran, and architect Joe Gonda of Buckeye Civil Design. Attempts to reach Alwanni and Omran were not successful.
Trumbull County Planning Commission in May approved the consolidation of the lots for a gas station, but on a condition that the development not have access to Dutch Lane, the alley that runs along the west side of the property, which is parallel to Route 62, the roadway on the east side. The condition was made so that property which otherwise violates Trumbull County Subdivision Regulations by having double frontage could still be developed, according to meeting minutes.
The developers applied for a variance to allow access from Dutch Lane, which would make it easier for customers and delivery trucks to enter and leave the property, but township officials are balking at the request, and the planning commission said that, as a rule, it defers to the township.
Dutch Lane is a heavily traveled shortcut for motorists who want to avoid the traffic light at Route 62 and Addison Road, but it is only 20 feet wide and was not built for “consistent two-way traffic,” said Suttles, adding that Code Enforcement Officer Pete Ross, Road Supt. Jaime Fredenburg and Police Chief Dan Faustino were consulted in establishing the township’s position.
Township officials also are worried about sight distance, particularly for motorists traveling from the property onto Dutch Lane, because the building is required to be setback at least 50 feet from Route 62. The latest plan has only four feet between the building and Dutch Lane, Suttles said.
Officials also are concerned about an increased volume of traffic at the intersection of Dutch Lane, Addison Road and Brookfield Avenue, which has been the site of many fender-benders over the years, and was the subject of a 2019 safety study.
“We’re cautious, because we don’t want to create a problem where it’s gonna be more dangerous at the intersection,” Suttles said.
The developers are in a pinch because the Ohio Department of Transportation has said it will only allow access to and from Route 62 if the property has a secondary access, Suttles said. Even with access from Dutch Lane, ODOT will allow only right-in and right-out turns from Route 62, he said.
ODOT spokesman Ray Marsch said ODOT issues permits for access to state and federal roads. Route 62, a federal highway, requires “a higher level of access control” because of traffic congestion, crashes, existing drive density, and/or development potential.
“These types of roadways typically do not allow direct access to the state or U.S. route if the property has other, reasonable access from a local street,” Marsch said. “If access is permitted to the state or U.S. route, it is typically in the form of right-in/right-out.”
The developers suggested making Dutch Lane one way heading north to south, but Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith questioned how tanker trucks would manage Dutch Lane, Suttles said.
“The last thing we want is delivery trucks, including gas trucks, to access Dutch Lane and try to navigate that, also,” Suttles said.
The Trumbull County Planning Commission’s Plats and Zoning Committee meets April 5, and the full commission meets April 12. Brookfield will be represented at both meetings, Suttles said.
“We’re taking a pretty strong stance,” he said. “We’re not going to agree to (variance). Our number-one concern is the safety of our residents and people who come into Brookfield. We just think we would be creating a more unsafe intersection.”