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Super-Sized Gas Stations Fuel Anger of Locals

Locals are resisting efforts by retail companies to build mega stations, opposition that NACS maintains is fueled by “what-ifs.”
March 25, 2014

​MOON TOWNSHIP, PA – Mega-sized gas stations are attracting growing opposition in the planning stages from residents who are leery of traffic and noise, Trib Live reports.

The large stations, some with full-service restaurants, small grocery stores, and 24/7 operations, have become hangout spots on the weekends for post-clubbing crowds.

“It's unneeded. It's unwanted. It's unnecessary in this district,” said Moon resident Melissa Church at a public hearing about Enon, Ohio-based Speedway LLC's proposal to build a gas station in an area zoned for residences and business.

Church and her husband are among roughly 30 residents who hired an attorney to fight the gas station’s efforts, which would have a 3,900-square-foot store and six, two-sided fuel dispensers. Moon supervisors will decide by May 9 whether to approve it.

According to municipal planner Brian O'Leary, president of the American Planning Association's Pennsylvania chapter, fuel companies are being met with rising community resistance as gas stations move into more developed areas.

“I'd say in the majority of cases we've seen here that involve rezoning, the rezonings have gone through despite neighbor opposition,” O'Leary said.

Some residents and business owners in Marshall claimed victory earlier this year when the zoning hearing board denied Giant Eagle Inc. three variances needed to convert a Kings Family Restaurant into a GetGo gas station. Giant Eagle filed an appeal in the Court of Common Pleas last week.

Jeff Lenard, a spokesperson for NACS, said to turn a profit from fuel sales, stations must either charge more per gallon or sell more gas at a low profit, which is prompting stations with multiple fuel pumps. He said people sometimes resist new stores because of misconceptions about their effect on crime, noise, traffic and neighborhood tranquility.

“In a lot of these (public) hearings, the what-ifs play very well,” Lenard said.