A proposed gas station and car wash in Blackburn drew a large passionate crowd to the most recent city council meeting (March 11).
For more than an hour, neighbours who live near 778 Foreman Rd., which is the site of the proposed gas station, voiced their concerns regarding the development at the public hearing.
Initial zoning applications for the development had been previously approved, but the car wash was back on the agenda for a rezoning application that would increase the size of the commercial property.
The property was already zoned for commercial use prior to amalgamation with the city of Prince George. The current zoning application would increase the size of the property to allow semi-trucks more room to turn around safely.
Bruce Kidd, the owner and developer purchased the property in 2016 because it was already commercially zoned, as he intended to build a gas station and three bay car wash.
“We will move forward regardless of the outcome of events,” explained Kidd during the hearing. “This whole issue merely comes around safety. The city feels it would be safer to move the entrance over.”
However, residents in the community expressed multiple concerns with the development. In addition to over an hour of comments at the public hearing, the city received 13 correspondences in opposition and a petition of 28 signatures.
“We are all against building a gas station with car wash at this location,” writes resident Bradley Smith. “If approved would bring increased traffic, as well as significant noise and light pollution. I also believe the security of our homes could easily be jeopardized not to mention the peace of rural living would be gone.”
Other concerns voiced by residents include pedestrians crossing the road at a dangerous intersection, the size of the semi-trucks and big rigs accessing the site and damages to the waterways and pond in the area.
“Tonight’s application has generated confusion surrounding the purpose of the amendment,” explained Ashley Elliott, Planner with L&N Engineering, during the hearing.
“Multiple times the application has been referred to being required to facilitate the gas station which is a bit misleading because a proposed gas station and car wash already fits neatly within the existing zoning and doesn’t require an amendment bylaw to facilitate the development.”
Coun. Kyle Sampson also spoke to clarify the purpose of the amendment before council.
“The currently zoned property is zoned for a gas station of commercial use and does allow for access to big rig vehicles, so without the new zoning the intention is to move forward with this development which would allow big rig access,” said Sampson.
“The suggestion of administration was to enhance the safety of the site by giving a bigger buffer for these big rigs, so with or without the zoning the intention is to move forward with the currently zoned property by the developer.”
After the hearing many passionate comments from multiple speakers who nevertheless opposed the zoning amendment, council ultimately voted to approve third reading of the amendment bylaw.