By Jim Bloch
Whatever happens to the vacant Family Video store on the southwest corner of Lapeer Avenue and 10th Street in Port Huron, it will not be a gas station.
On Sept. 7, the city’s planning commission denied Jameel Alhadiss’s special use request for a gas station and convenience at that location.
At the city council’s regular meeting six days later, the council had the option of concurring with the planning commission’s decision or rejecting it, in which case it could choose to hold its own public hearing and take separate action.
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“The applicant has chosen not to appeal (the planning commission’s decision),” noted City Manager James Freed, as heard on the recording of the meeting posted on the city’s website.
The council voted 6-0 to accept and file the planning commission’s decision; Mayor Pauline Repp was absent.
At the Sept. 7 meeting’s public hearing, seven residents spoke against the request: Tyler Obrien-Moldovan; John Stein; John Forstner; Jennifer Spicer; a woman who gave her first name as Amanda; Lexi Eveleth; and Dawn Spicer.
Obrien-Moldovan said that a service station on the property would actually be a disservice to neighbors, according to the minutes of the planning commission meeting. He recommended that city officials show the master plan to the applicant and point out where a gas station would be allowed to open without a special use permit.
Stein said he had concerns about water and sewer issues in the area, which had plagued the video store when it opened.
Forstner expressed concerns about gasoline fumes in the neighborhood. He worried that he would lose the ability to enjoy his yard due to the smell of gas.
Both Spicers agreed, offering that their mother lives next door and is on oxygen; their mom’s windows face the property and the fumes could damage her health.
Amanda said the applicant had been charged with selling alcohol to minors in Saginaw.
Eveleth, who works at a community garden 250 feet from the property, said a more neighborhood-friendly use for the property would be a grocery store, soup kitchen or homeless outreach center.
A number of the speakers said they had walked their neighborhoods and spoken to residents, all of whom shared their general concerns.
The planning commissioners agreed that a gas station presented potential health hazards to the residents in the neighborhood. They had voted 5-2 to turn down the special use permit.
Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.