Plans for a new Bucky's gas station on the site of the former Louis Market in Benson are moving forward, despite objections from neighbors worried about traffic, noise and an uptick in late-night crime.
The Omaha Planning Board voted 5-1 on Wednesday to endorse a zoning change for the site, located near the intersection of North 58th Street and Northwest Radial Highway. The property, which was home to Louis Market grocery since 1957, has been unoccupied since the store closed in early 2012.
A proposal from Bucky's to build a gas station and car wash on the site, which first went to the Planning Board two months ago, has drawn criticism from residents in the Bensonhurst neighborhood and led to meetings between neighbors and the project's developer. The board's vote was delayed twice as the developer adjusted the plan.
Wednesday, Larry Jobeun, an attorney representing the developer, told the board that the new gas station would be built with the neighbors' concerns in mind, including landscaping and a generous amount of space between the gas station improvements and surrounding homes.
But neighbors said they're concerned about a backup of traffic, nighttime lights that would allow the station to be open around the clock, and potential for crime at a 24-hour business.
Rachel Howell said a constant stream of cars and trucks could be a big risk for people walking along the neighborhood's streets.
“We do have quite a few pedestrians who are always pedestrians in the area,” she said. “You can look at a couple different residential areas to the east and west and see those are folks that don't necessarily drive, ever.”
Adam Nordstrom, executive director at Teen Challenge of the Midlands, a residential facility for young people located near the property, said he has similar worries.
“The placement of the driveway is a huge concern for us, because we have guys coming and going,” he said.
Jobeun told the board he expects neighbors will think differently once the gas station is built.
“I think it's actually going to be a noticeable improvement to the area, based on the vacant building that's currently there,” he said.
The board's recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council for consideration.