Posted by Sansone / Lauber Trial Lawyers on September 14, 2016SHARE IT
Reliance bank is still pushing their fast food drive thru Starbucks project and trying to avoid an appeal by making concessions, however these concessions don’t meaningfully address the traffic safety issues. At the 9.12.2016 hearing Reliance CEO gave a long speech including the claims that Reliance has to add the high volume fast food drive-thru (Starbucks) because of the change in banking and less visits by customers to brick and mortar banks. He then criticized the Regions bank project currently approved to be built at the Northeast corner of Manchester and Bopp. One very important factor, Regions bank is building bank, and just a bank, and does not need a high volume fast food drive thru at the entrance to two residential neighborhoods and a park to do it.
Recently the post dispatch wrote a short article about the hearing and I must respond to an inaccuracy.
Article Myth: “naysayers were outnumbered by supporters” , i.e. More People Support the Reliance High Volume Fast Food Drive thru than Oppose it:
At the public hearing on 9.12.2016, I did not take a head count, but the room was roughly equal as far as a head count for apparent supporters versus opposition. Fact: More residents actually got up and spoke out against the project than for it, more importantly, everyone who spoke in favor of the project was biased, they had personal or business ties to the Bank or Starbucks. More people against the plan actually got up and spoke, additionally, everyone who spoke against the Reliance Starbucks plan were actually Des Peres Residents. All the astro-turf supporters of the plan, most not residents, were admittedly friends or business associates of Reliance and their executives.
All the individuals that spoke in favor of the plan are described below:
- Reliance CEO followed by their architect
- A non resident, who admitted he was a long time personal friend of the CEO
- A resident shareholder of the bank
- Non resident real estate broker that had the property listing
- A non resident developer of a Starbucks
- A resident who left out that he is a past business partner for Reliance bank and attempted a similar project in Town & Country that was voted down.
- A non resident lawyer with obvious ties to Reliance who spoke on behalf of an anonymous “city resident” in support of the project.
Additionally, remember the Board of Alderman voted the project down 5-1 back in 2015, this was not a close vote and for very good reason. Also a similar project pushed by Reliance was voted down in Town and Country, again for very good reason. For The Post Dispatch to immediately characterize the residents in opposition to the project with the pejorative label of “naysayer” is laughable. Naysayer is defined as someone with habitual pessimistic views despite a general feeling of good or acceptance among the majority. This is a total mis-characterization. There are legitimate safety concerns by the citizens directly affected by this project that outweigh Reliance’s profit motive and non-residents desire for a quick cup of coffee thru a high volume fast food drive thru. Don’t take my word for it, read the Des Peres traffic engineer’s statements below.
Myth: The projected traffic problems are not not sufficient enough to deny the permit. Per Open Letter to Board of Alderman.
Des Peres’ own traffic engineer’s testified at trial that the Reliance/Starbucks plan will cause a “significant decrease in the level of safety”. Keep in mind, this “significant decrease in the level of safety” is not only on Manchester Rd, but also on Harwood Rd., the entrance to a neighborhood with over 216 homes, Harwood Park, and Vinetta Road, the entrance to a 20 home neighborhood. The engineer testified:
ONE: The project is “Likely to increase rear-end collisions on Manchester.” citing [Tr. 704:1-3]
The basis for the conclusion is: (1) the close proximity of the bank entrance to Harwood, (2) very heavy westbound traffic, and (3) sudden decelerations.
TWO: “Left turns […] degrade by two grade levels from a level C condition to a level E” citing [Tr. 731:6 through 734:13] . Level “E” is considered unacceptable by traffic engineering standards.
The basis for this conclusion includes (1) “7.5 seconds is needed to make a safe turn”; (2) “4 second gaps”; (3) 60 left turns in AM only 27 gaps” and (4) drivers will be forced to make “quicker turns out than would be allowed by the expected time gaps available to make a safe turn.”
THREE: “[S]tacking of cars onto Harwood […] precipitous increase in turning movements […] degradation of left turns […] corresponding and significant decrease in the level of safety.” citing [Tr. 795-820.]
Additionally, the City Attorney spoke on September 12, 2016 and apparently is now supporting the project. Stating in part that the traffic safety problems have all been addressed and the decision by the Special Master (not a judge) was made after being fairly considered. Yet, the City attorney previously filed a detailed motion to disqualify the special master for a conflict of interest as well as a detailed motion objecting to his findings.
Des Peres 26 page Motion describing why Special Master is Wrong – this is a long 26 page read, but for the important statements on the traffic safety problems see pages 3-8.
Reliance claims it has addressed the traffic safety issues, but it simply has not. The only concession they have offered to alleviate traffic issues related to Manchester Road and the entrance to the Bank and Hardwood is to round out the radius of the entrance curb. This in no way addresses the left turn safety problems, the cut thru traffic in residential neighborhoods, the degradation of operating levels in the E and F range, and the increases likelihood of traffic crashes.