Richmond Hill’s city council is extending its moratorium on new gas stations until Sept. 7, a move city leaders say will help protect homeowners from having them built to close to residential areas.
The moratorium was passed in May and was slated to end Aug. 3, but council members extended it to allow the chance to “rethink our ordinances regarding filling stations, specifically their placement,” Mayor Russ Carpenter said.
Under the measure, no new applications for such businesses will be accepted until the moratorium expires. Applications and permits already accepted by the city won’t be impacted by the city’s action, according to City Clerk Dawnne Greene.
City Councilman Steve Scholar said the measure will give the city the opportunity to determine how to move forward in developing the ordinances.
“We want to be respectful of our city’s residents in terms of what businesses, particularly gas stations, we allow to be built near their residences and subdivisions. With safety, noise levels and light pollution in mind, we want to examine how to best proceed with where such developments in the city are allowed. We have always been, and will continue to be, a pro-business community. But we also want to provide our residents a safe and welcoming place to call home,” Scholar said.
Since 2014 there have been 12 applications submitted to the city to build gas stations. Only two – one at Harris Trail at Timber Trail and another at Harris Trail and Highway 17 – are under construction. Two more, one at property across the street from Mulberry and another across Highway 144 from the main gate at the Ford Field and River Club are on hold due to the moratorium.
The other applications were either pulled by applicants, awaiting the beginning of construction or were conditionally approved.
Carpenter echoed Scholar, noting the reasons for the moratorium were “namely protection of nearby homeowners.”
“Environmentally, distancing a gas station from where people live is a plus. The property values of residential homes will also be a benefit of the ordinance change. Less noise and light pollution will result as well. It’s a good move for our residents while protecting commercial property rights, too.”