Gas Station Restrictions Letter for Washington County Land Use Staff
We want to see Washington County pass laws (land use codes) that will ensure an application for a gas station near public parks, wetlands, or other sensitive areas can never be considered again. The next step on this mission is working with Washington County Land Use Staff to start a program to update the code.
Want to sign the letter? Please read the letter below and email firstname.lastname@example.org to add your name to the letter.
To: LUTplan@co.washington.or.us CC: Pam_Treece@co.washington.or.us Subject: Gas Station Siting Restrictions for Sensitive Areas
Hello Washington County Land Use Staff-
We are citizens and organizations that want to see Washington County put land use restrictions on gas stations near sensitive areas. Data from Oregon DEQ, Federal EPA, and other organizations clearly show the economic, health, and environmental risks that gas stations and their underground petroleum tanks pose (see reports). And land use restrictions are the right tool to reduce and isolate these risks from sensitive public and private lands.
In fact, many other municipalities have made similar land use code updates coast-to-coast from Petaluma, California to Montgomery County, Maryland (see municipal codes).
Our request: We want Washington County land use codes updated to require that gas stations, currently operating gas stations excluded, be a minimum of 1,500 feet from any public park or playground, school, hospital, church, theater, dwelling unit, public library or building for public assembly; or any wetland, stream, river, flood plain, or environmentally sensitive area. We also want to see this applied to all zones across the County without an option for variance to ensure equitable and objective application of this requirement.
We believe this is an urgent issue: here are just two catastrophic examples from 2021 of how gas station storage can fail and endanger public lands and infrastructure:
- 14,000 gallons were released under Highway 99 in Monmouth Oregon April 2021. This caused damage to public property, ground water, created traffic issues, and uncalculable ecological damage. (Oregon DEQ Blog)
- 1,300 gallons of fuel to leaked after a driver hit a gas pump in Pasadena California in December 2021. The fuel was pulled into the Alhambra wash where hazmat crews did their best to cleanup the spill (video, news).
We have a shared belief that land use codes should both encourage economic development and “provide for the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Washington County” as the Washington County Community Development Code states (municode). And we believe that the data and reports we have provided supports the case for restricting gas station siting to promote the health, safety and welfare of the County.
Do you agree with this letter? Please send an email to email@example.com to add your name.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How did you arrive at the 1,500ft setback requirement?
A: We chose 1,500 ft setback because it was the highest municipal restriction we had found in our research short of an outright ban on new gas stations. For example it is the setback in Rock Hill, CT. The minimum consensus amongst municipalities we researched seems to be around 500 ft. You can see a few examples and direct links to example codes on this page: https://www.postpump.org/gas-station-land-use-codes
Q: Is there Washington County Community Participation Organization (CPO) engagement?
A: Yes, presentations were made in Feb. 2022 to both CPO1 and CPO7. There was positive reception at both meetings and many members signed the letter after the meetings.
Q: Are County Commissioners aware of these requests?
A: Yes, a number of public comments have been made on the topic to both the Board of Commissioners and the Planning Commission.
Q: Do you understand that future changes to land use code will not affect accepted land use applications?
A: Yes. Although this campaign is an offshoot of the opposition to Land Use Case L2100244 we understand that any changes to code will not affect the outcome of this case. However, we are motivated to ensure that gas station developments with the potential negative economic, environmental, and health impacts of that development are not considered again in Washington County.