Bethany Lake gas station proposal postponed until November
It will be another month before the public, including hundreds of opponents, has the opportunity to provide verbal comments on the proposed gas station in Bethany.
At a brief meeting Thursday, Oct. 20, Washington County hearings officer David Doughman announced that a hearing to discuss the proposal will be delayed by nearly one month. In the interim, the county is still accepting public testimony for the record.
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, which has led to a petition to change Washington County's land use rules.
The seven-minute meeting Thursday consisted of Doughman explaining that the applicant, Bob Barman, asked to have the public hearing pushed back to 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17.
As the hearing was deferred for just under a month, no public testimony was submitted or reviewed at Thursday's meeting.
Barman said in an interview Thursday that the extension was to accommodate a member of his presenting team who had a scheduling conflict.
The proposal last came up in August, when 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.
Neighbors have expressed concerns about traffic and environmental impacts, prompting the advent of a community organization and a petition with over 200 signatures.
Because Washington County doesn't have rules hindering the development of gas stations near sensitive environmental areas like a wetland, in this case, leader of Neighbors Against Bethany Lake Gas Station Brandon Philips is asking the county to change its land use rules, in addition to fighting the proposed gas station.
"The economic truth is that that gas stations will go away, and that the law as written today allows gas station owners to walk away and let others clean it up and the taxpayers will pay for it," he said.
"It seems ridiculous to me and a lot of us to be siting a brand-new gas station while (electric vehicle) adoption is taking off," Philips added.
Barman said he has had high levels of support for his other "eco-friendly" gas stations — in Woodburn and in Beaverton at Allen and Murray boulevards — but the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered his team's ability to talk face-to-face with the neighborhood about the plans. He attributes some of the backlash to that lack of interaction.
"In the world of life, can you satisfy everyone? No. That's just not reality," he said. "If it's environmental issues they're concerned about, they have got the perfect person to develop this site, period."
The November hearing will be on the third iteration of the design for the project.
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.
As planned, the building will be two stories, with the upper level for storage.
Community planner Stephen Shane said the staff report for the proposed project would be available in the coming days on the county's frequently discussed projects page. The current application is also currently available on the webpage.
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