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Gas Station Next to My House

by Yanci Arreola
(Safford AZ)

Visitor Says: Hi my name is Yanci Arreola. I've lived in Safford AZ for 3 years.

About 2 years ago we had a realtor come up to us trying to buy our property. My neighbors and I agreed to sell. They said it would take a couple of months. Well 2 years later they come up to us saying they are not buying us out but are requesting to rezone this area.

I've looked up some pros and cons about living next to a gas station and none of them look good at all especially if we're talking about health, safety, noise, light issues. I have two kids and that gets me even more worried.

We have a meeting with the planning and zoning commission tomorrow. I'm very nervous so my question is what should I do other than attending the meeting? Also is there someone I can contact to express my concerns? Will my opposition stop them from building or at least buying me out since I will be the most affected with this situation?

Editors Reply: Probably we are a couple of days late in giving you good advice about the planning commission meeting, but the good news is that in almost every city and county, the commission does not make the final decision about whether a rezoning occurs. Instead the planning and zoning commission makes a recommendation to the city or county council, whatever it may be called, and that council makes the final decision.

We hope that all of that was explained to you when you attended the meeting.

To be honest, none of us who write for this website would want to live next door to a gas station either. They generate a little bit of extra traffic. If they have a convenience store attached, and almost every station that is built right now does, then they become a much bigger nuisance. Those with a store may generate lots of extra traffic.

As you point out, a station with a store opens up the potential for your kids wanting and being able to buy candy and general junk all too easily, not to mention cigarettes and liquor if they are teenagers.

In addition, you have to be worried about what kinds of silly behavior your children may see right next to their home.

More remote possibilities, but still possibilities, would be a hold-up or a fire or explosion. It is for these reasons that typically a zoning ordinance does not permit residences and gas stations in the same zoning district.

But of course your residential district might be right next door to the commercial zoning that adjacent property owners are seeking.

You ask what else you should be doing. Our website system does not allow us to give you the direct link, but do go over to the side of the page, click on Zoning, and then click on Re-Zoning Opposition near the top of the photo links. That page, at www.useful-community-development.org/re-zoning-opposition.html, gives you a number of tips for your particular situation.

In sum, you really need to organize your neighbors to come with you to any future meetings that will be held.

Then you ask whether your opposition would mean that the rezoning will be denied. No, it doesn't. Opposition from neighbors is one factor, and sometimes a very important factor, but almost every city council will at some time or another make an unpopular decision.

It is very important that you express yourself in plain language. It isn't important to be a great speaker or extremely knowledgeable, but do be willing to learn.

If you do not know the city council members who will be making the decision, get to know them. In many places the city or county is divided up geographically, so you have one or maybe two particular people who represent your area. If so, those are the people you especially need to influence. In fact, invite them to come to your house or your yard to meet your neighbors and to visualize for themselves how harmful a gas station in that location might be.

Your city hall will give you the contact information for the city council persons who will be making the decision. Sometimes home addresses and phone numbers are given out, but more often now, you have to leave a message at city hall. Usually they have e-mail addresses too, so be sure to use that avenue of communication.

A city council cannot force someone who wants a rezoning to buy you out. They might make that suggestion to the property owner, but they have no power to make sure it happens.

Good luck to you and your neighbors.


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Re- Gas station
by: Jonah

Visitor New Question and Comment:> I'm planning to put up a tuition center at the commercial space of the gas station in town. I would like to ask for your help. The tutorial center will cater to preschool, grade school, junior and senior high. Some say that it is okay, and others say it might be hazardous.
TIA!

Editors Reply: This is really a new question, but all right, we'll give it a brief answer here.

A gas station certainly isn't the most obvious place for a tutoring center. Often today's gas stations are built with an extra space so that a convenience store or fast food restaurant can be added.

The first question is whether this gas station is covered by a zoning ordinance. Ask the town or city, if this area is part of one, or ask the county if you are pretty sure that there is no town or city government. If there is a zoning ordinance in effect, you will need to abide by it.

If there is no zoning ordinance or if the zoning allows this use, the next question to ask yourself is how you and your prospective customers will feel about safety. There are several kinds of safety involved, but the two major ones might be a congested traffic area where children might be going out to cars without adult supervision, and also the health risks of regular and repeated exposure to fumes.

Pedestrian safety for kids and parents is critical, but some designs where there is a clear separate entrance from the one most commonly used by gas customers might be all right, especially if there is likely to be parking right by that entrance almost all the time. The gas station owner might allow you to post some parking spaces for use of your customers solely.

So on pedestrian safety, you have to evaluate this yourself based on site conditions. Ask some parents too; after all, what your future customers think might be equally as important as what an objective observer might think.

Regarding fumes, there is a good reason for warnings about repeated exposure to fumes on your gas pump. Children are even more susceptible to gasoline fume health issues because they are shorter and therefore closer to where the gasoline fumes may be inhaled. They also have a larger ratio of lung surface area to weight than do adults.

So while we wouldn't want to be fear mongers about terrible things that could happen to children from breathing gasoline fumes almost every day as opposed to when mom or dad pumps gas, we would urge you and parents to be cautious.

If you can possibly find another location, we would urge you to do so.

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