Atlantic Beach Crafting new Regulations for Gas Stations
Tight restrictions may be imposed on any new construction.
It will very likely become more difficult to build a new gas station in Atlantic Beach, as the city is considering tighter restrictions regulating what can be built.
The discussion is tied to the large Gate gas station and convenience store that is being built on Atlantic Boulevard, which was approved by the previous commission over the strong objections of may residents. At the time, it was determined that the current city code did not allow the commission to stop the construction of the station.
The current commission is debating whether to impose an outright ban on new gas station construction, as has been done in Neptune Beach, or place very tight controls on the size and location of such businesses. Commissioner Blythe Waters said that in the long run, it really doesn’t make much difference, as the end result will largely be the same. “If we come back with restrictions that meet our citizens’ request, that we are at three fueling stations, no one’s going to build it,” Waters said. “The economics of the industry are such that money is not made off gas. It is made on the number of customers that come in an utilize the convenience store portion of the (business).
“Therefore, the industry doesn’t see it as viable to build small ‘mom and pop’ stations as long as there are … larger stations then no one’s going to see it as economically feasible.”
She said an ordinance written in a way that would satisfy constituents would effectively be a ban.
The commission agreed that it is important to craft legislation that would allow a larger station to rebuild in the event of a natural disaster, and not force them into compliance with the new laws.
The commission directed the city staff to craft draft legislation that would not allow 24/7 operation of a gas station, that would require a minimum distance between stations; that would not allow for any variances or special exceptions; a buffer to residential areas, and; a limit of either three or four fueling stations.
The city passed a moratorium on new gas stations in 2016, and that moratorium has been extended once. Mayor Ellen Glasser said that it was important that the new code be in place before another extension is needed.