I hope y’all are having a great spring. There has been lots of news and I apologize for the long two month delay in writing.
Bob Barman and his team have withdrawn their gas station near Bethany Lake design application that required a variance request from the County. However, they submitted an application with the County for a third design. The County sums up the situation:
A new application for a proposed Chevron fuel station at the intersection of West Union Road and 185th Avenue has been submitted by applicant Robert Barman, CJRW LLC. It is being reviewed for completeness by our Current Planning staff. Information will be posted when it is available.
We will cover more about that later.
In the last few months I have met with 3 of 5 County Commissioners about the gas station proposed near Bethany Lake. In general I can sum up these meetings with three bullet points:
To which I generally reply:
Please consider making your voice heard to our County Commissioners. They are the only folks that can make a positive change here.
The next major event on this campaign to get the County Commissioners to act and pass laws for gas stations is with the Long Range Planning process which will start happening in June or July. I will post more about that as the County announces the process.
An important argument we have been making on this campaign is that putting gas stations close to public infrastructure is a fiscal mistake. And the Seattle Times carried a story covering this issue. In particular they talk to one gas station owning family that sees their gas station properties as liabilities instead of assets due to the potential damage they can cause- so much so they don’t want family inheriting the property.
..there’s a sense among environmental advocates that crumbling gas stations, combined with the many abandoned or forgotten sites, are causing injury by a thousand cuts. The state Legislature calls them a “a serious threat to human health and the environment.
The Seattle Times article above directly addresses the financial liability that these gas stations become as they age. And during the recent community meeting that was hosted by the developer, Bob Barman and 3J Consulting, the team was unable to answer basic questions on how they plan to fund the eventual cleanup of their gas station when asked:
Q: How do you guarantee the stewardship though? Are you prepared to fund a trust or put liens against other properties to guarantee funding in case of an accident? A: We are not new: we have been recognized as great stewards. We will not be funding a trust or put liens against other properties.
Essentially the developer is saying “trust us”. And I think the County needs to act to ensure our tax dollars and public resources are protected by something more than trust; particularly when there is decades of evidence about the multi-year $1M+ quagmires gas station cleanups become.
I would like to end this newsletter with a story from a book I was reading my daughter a few days ago.
“You’re glumping the pond where the Humming-Fish hummed! No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed. So I’m sending them off. Oh, their future is dreary. They’ll walk on their fins and get woefully weary in search of some water that isn’t so smeary.” - Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
P.S. Thanks to Audrey Farrell for this photo of ducks and a sunset at Bethany Lake. Beautiful!