Convenience store giant 7-Eleven made a pitch Monday night to build a gas station, convenience store and car wash at the corner of County Road 466 and Rolling Acres Road.
Representatives of 7-Eleven offered a slick presentation before the Lady Lake Commission about a “modern” 7-Eleven that would be “attractive” and “inviting,” according to Tara Tedrow, senior associate at the Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed law firm, representing 7-Eleven.
The 7-Eleven would be located on 1.405 acres at the northwest corner of the intersection, north of Village Palms and west of Recreation Plantation.
The convenience store would be 3,486 square feet. There would be a total of 16 fueling positions. It would be located less than a mile from the new Wawa going in at U.S. Hwy. 27/441 and Rolling Acres Road.
Tedrow and a colleague presented numbers that made it appear that the location of 7-Eleven would actually help alleviate traffic at the notorious intersection. There was even a claim that 67 percent of the trees on the property would be saved.
Tedrow argued that 7-Eleven was a better fit than a restaurant, because a gas station is not a “destination” and would not create additional traffic like a restaurant.
The reception from commissioners was cool, but they didn’t slam the door on 7-Eleven.
A main concern is that Rolling Acres Road has been declared a “failing” road and Lake County has shown no urgency in updating it to a four-lane road.
“Rolling Acres is a failing road. It is a horrendous road,” said Commissioner Ruth Kussard. “There have been backups of cars (on County Road 466) all the way back to Atria (assisted living.)”
Her fellow commissioners agreed.
“This corner is a traffic hazard all day long. Now we’re going to have tanker trunks coming and going? That’s the big hangup with me,” said Commissioner Tony Holden.
Mayor Jim Richards said he would personally prefer driving through The Villages rather than braving the intersection, known for its many accidents.
“I cannot in good conscience vote for a special exception knowing the condition of this intersection,” the mayor said.
Commissioner Dan Vincent, a resident of Water Oak, did not want to send 7-Eleven away once and for all. He proposed tabling the issue. The commission agreed to do so.
Tedrow indicated she might be making another presentation on 7-Eleven’s behalf before the commission on Dec. 19.
After it was tabled, Lady Lake Planning and Zoning Board Chairman John Gauder predicted this would be a “hot topic” in the community.
“I am glad you’re going to put a pause on it,” he said.