Neighbors rally against Bethany Lake gas station at hearing
Neighbors in the Bethany area pleaded their case once again for the county to prohibit the development of a gas station near Bethany Lake.
The two-hour meeting before the Washington County public hearings officer Thursday afternoon, Nov. 17. Area residents asked questions and expressed their concerns about increased traffic and underground fuel storage tanks near a wetland in the Bethany area.
The proposed gas station and convenience store at Northwest 185th Avenue and West Union Road has been the topic of ongoing environmental and safety concerns by area residents. This has led to a petition to change Washington County's land use rules.
In August, Barman submitted a third design for the proposed gas station — which would also include a convenience market with drive-thru — on the site of the former Mad Greek Deli, near Bethany Lake and the Rock Creek Greenway wetlands.
Washington County planning staff recommended the project be approved at the meeting Thursday, as county planner Paul Schaefer found that the plans comply with the Washington County development code and transportation plans.
Eleven residents spoke in opposition to the development Thursday. No member of the public spoke in favor of the project.
Paul Lloret, who lives in the area, said he was mostly concerned about the possible environmental impacts if an underground gas storage container leaks.
"If there's a big rain and something fails, it's going right into that creek," he said. "It borders on negligence in this age to put a gas station next to a lake. Nobody in good conscience or good faith should be considering that."
Susan Nolte agreed that if leakage occurs, it may be through the pipes, which is difficult to monitor.
"It goes back to this site being a very, very, very poor location for a gas station and underground storage tanks."
Before the latest redesign, the application for the building included 10 gas pumps and 52,000 gallons of underground fuel storage tanks. Now, the number of pumps has been reduced to eight, the underground fuel storage has been reduced to 40,000 gallons, and a drive-thru has been added to the design for the 1.21-acre site.
Because Washington County doesn't have rules hindering the development of gas stations near sensitive environmental areas like a wetland, in this case, leaders of the neighborhood organization Neighbors Against Bethany Lake Gas Station are asking the county to change its land use rules, in addition to fighting the proposed gas station.
Outside of environmental concerns, residents said that if more than a few cars are lined up to get gas, the vehicles will begin to back up into traffic along Northwest West Union Road.
"Essentially shutting down traffic going eastbound on West Union can't possibly be an acceptable situation," George Cabaniss said.
Neighbors have been fighting the proposed gas station and convenience store for months. Neighbors Against Bethany Lake Gas Station has gathered over 200 signatures against the project, citing environmental, traffic and other concerns.
After the public comments, representatives and designers for the project said that the underground storage tanks and the respective permits were of concern for the Department of Environmental Quality, not the county, and that the project meets all the required county codes.
Public comment was expected to be heard in October, but the hearing was delayed until November. Project applicant Bob Barman said at the time that the extension was to accommodate a member of his presenting team who had a scheduling conflict.
It will take until Jan. 11 before hearings officer David Doughman decides on the development proposal. That decision can be appealed.
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