It was a packed house at the St. Johns Community Center on Monday night, Dec. 14, as the proposed plans for a new 7-Eleven convenience store at 8157 N Lombard St. were unveiled, followed by questions and comments for 7-Eleven representative Tom Noble.

There are already two 7-Elevens in St. Johns, one of which is nine blocks from the site, and a Plaid Pantry. St. Johns residents, who cheered earlier in the neighborhood association meeting over plans for a long-anticipated Ace Hardware, expressed concern regarding the prospect of another convenience store.

If all zoning requirements are met, the development most certainly will become a reality as the developer’s chosen design review process does not require public input. Opposed neighbors only recourse is to write their city planner with land-use zoning specific arguments: building versus lot coverage, crime, or traffic issues.

One zoning issue raised by the site plans, currently under Portland Bureau of Development Services review, is the amount of building percentage versus lot space. A carport stretching along the north and west sides of the storefront may be an attempt to reach this code requirement, but it raises significant safety issues.

“This carport structure will create a covered area from the building that extends out over the adjacent parking area. Of concern is the lack of visibility to the northwest and north sides of the building. These areas will not have windows and are located at the back of the development out of the line of site [sic] to N Lombard,” says Angela Wagnon, crime prevention coordinator with the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, via email.

“There are existing problems in the St. Johns area with transient camping around the business core area as well as observations of individuals using and selling drugs. This covered area has the potential to be attractive to these kinds of activities,” she adds.

Others concerns include questions of adequate lighting and the dangerous nature of the site’s intersection, just southeast of St. Johns’ main square. The design calls for entrances on N Oswego and N Richmond, rather than the busier Lombard, probably in an attempt to abate traffic concerns and a possible appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals.

The site also falls within the St. Johns Main Street Coalition boundaries. Ideas on what kind of business development residents would like to see are necessary and welcome.

A definite answer on whether the large billboard currently on-site will stay or go has not been reached.

The developer, MAJ Development Corporation, was not present, but because a representative of the parent company, in this case 7-Eleven, was, the obligation to attend a public meeting, as per the Good Neighbor Plan, is fulfilled; it is unlikely they will schedule another.

Both Tom Noble of 7-Eleven and MAJ Development did not return attempts to contact them by phone and email.

Residents are encouraged to write their city planner.

More information is available on the St. Johns Facebook group.

Contact city planner Jill Grenda, jill.grenda@portlandoregon.gov, to express zoning concerns or issues, or for more information.