7-Eleven developer to learn fate

Commission set to hear matter on Mon., April 1


SCHEDULED HEARING—A public notice sign alerts neighbors to an upcoming planning commission hearing for a vacant lot across the street from Thousand Oaks High School. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers

SCHEDULED HEARING—A public notice sign alerts neighbors to an upcoming planning commission hearing for a vacant lot across the street from Thousand Oaks High School. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers

While a 24-hour corner gas station and convenience store kittycorner from Thousand Oaks High School might be handy for students and parents nearing campus with an empty gas tank or a hankering for a Slurpee, some neighboring residents oppose such a development.

Both sides will have the opportunity to voice their opinions Monday night at City Hall—if the developer goes ahead with a scheduled hearing before the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission, which will vote yes or no on the proposal.

This isn’t the first time Megdal, the firm behind plans for a 24-hour 7-Eleven gas station at 2100 N. Moorpark Road, has been on the commission’s docket.

A hearing set for Oct. 22 was canceled hours before the release of the agenda after Megdal reps requested more time to meet with the public.

It’s unclear how much progress the Beverly Hills-based developer has made during its past four months of outreach, which included two community meetings.

At an Oct. 11 meeting with the public, unhappy residents said they were concerned the development would create the same problems they said plague the city’s 7-Eleven locations on Wilbur Road and Kimber Drive: vagrancy, traffic, loitering, panhandling and crime.

Others said the increase in traffic at Avenida de Las Flores and Moorpark Road would present a danger to students walking to and from school.

Megdal’s proposal includes a gas station with a “fresh fare” convenience store, where 30 percent of the space would feature a selection of sandwiches, fruit, cheese, hummus and other healthy options.

In a show of good faith to the school district, it would not sell alcohol or vaping supplies but would carry cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Megdal’s previous plans for the site, including a Hawaiian-style restaurant and a Starbucks, were abandoned after failing to gain support from TOHS administrators, the developer has said. The site had housed a gas station for 40 years but has been vacant for more than a decade.

The 20,000-square-foot lot is near single-family homes.

Taylor Megdal, president of Megdal and Associates, has said the owner, Back Bays Trust, spent thousands to clean up polluted soil at the site and now wants to put the property back into commercial use.

Meanwhile, at the March 19 Conejo Valley school board meeting, members voted 4-1 to send the city a letter drafted by a district ad hoc committee listing their concerns.

“As CVUSD respects the jurisdiction of the Planning Commission and City Council on this issue, the purpose of this letter is not to take a position one way or another, but to communicate those issues of concern to CVUSD as a community partner and stakeholder in the eventual outcome,” the letter begins.

Included among the district’s worries: traffic safety; security and student safety; alcohol, tobacco and vaping products; and student health and nutrition. Ad hoc committee members expressed doubt that the firm’s verbal agreement not to sell alcohol or vaping products will hold up long term.

If Monday’s vote takes place as scheduled, it will be four planning commissioners—not five—who will decide the hot-button issue.

Recently appointed commissioner Kevin Kohan has said he will recuse himself from the 7-Eleven vote because he worked with Megdal on the project in his role as senior environmental planner for Stantec Consulting.

The recusal would be the second in as many meetings for Kohan, who removed himself from a March 18 vote on an application to construct a self-storage facility near Willow Lane and S. Skyline Drive because Stantec had also done work on that project.