Annexation Request Denied
Posted: March 8, 2013
The decision by the Eau Claire City Council at its February 26th meeting to deny the annexation request by Kwik Trip Inc. to build a gas/convenience store operation at 3540 Mall Drive was shocking. After all, the City of Eau Claire Plan Commission the previous week unanimously approved the annexation from the Town of Washington.
I watched the city council meeting again this past week in an effort to grasp what the five council members were thinking when they voted against the annexation. It is obvious that a few of those who voted down the request were grandstanding. First of all, since no representative from Kwik Trip could attend the meeting, it appeared to me that the group of elected representatives who were trying to send a message about the high gasoline prices in Eau Claire were empowered by the absence of a Kwik Trip official.
A group of UW-Eau Claire students two years ago conducted a competitive pricing study for the city council to use as a guideline when deciding future policy regarding high gas prices. In no way was the report conclusive.
Council member Dave Duax, who voted against the annexation, along with council members Olson, Balow, Pavelski and Werthmann, cited the results of the university study as his reasoning for voting "no" on annexation. Council member Mark Olson stated that the annexation would not be in "the best interest of the community ".
Council member Bob Von Haden, who voted for the annexation with Council President Kerry Kincaid and council members Mitchell, Emmanuelle, and Vue, stated, "For us to deny the annexation based on this study...is totally wrong and improper ".
In my opinion, the 30 or so decent-paying jobs that would have been created in the city, along with the added revenue from the property taxes on the new Kwik Trip was clearly in the best interests of the community. In addition, Kwik Trip is a good community partner and provides its employees with benefits and profit sharing plans.
The fact that Kwik Trip and Mega Holiday control nearly 70 percent of the gasoline market in the City of Eau Claire should be of no concern to the city council when deciding whether to annex a property.
I was embarrassed for the City of Eau Claire taxpayers who have elected officials that want to make it appear they are trying to reign in high gas prices. Unfortunately, those same council members are not thinking about thenegative message being sent to other businesses that may want to relocate or expand in the City of Eau Claire.