Thanks for helping to keep our neighborhood safe and healthy!
The Town of Beaufort Board of Commissioners voted on 9/27/2021 to DENY the request for a Special Use Permit for 1550 Lennoxville Road (current Austin Vet location) to accommodate a Jim Dandy gas station and convenience store.
We recognize that Beaufort needs an additional gas station. However, the location at 1550 Lennoxville Road is in the middle of a residential area, and the negative impacts to residents (not just those adjacent to the property) will be tremendous. There are other areas in Beaufort that are more appropriate and safer for this type of business.
- Please see this recent article in the Carteret County News-Times about this issue.
- Letter to the Editor – Carteret County News-Times: Please Apply the Same Consideration (PDF)
- WCTI NewsChannel12 video and online story
- Beaufort planners recommend commissioners deny permit for gas station on Lennoxville Road (Carteret County News-Times)
- Letter to the Editor – Carteret County News-Times: Please Protect Our Community
- Letter to the Editor – Carteret County News-Times: A More Suitable Location (PDF)
- Beaufort commission to review gas station permit application again Monday, determination possible (Carteret County News-Times)
- NEW – Beaufort commissioners deny permit application for Jim Dandy on Lennoxville Road (Carteret County News-Times)
Zoning – It’s Not Even Allowed Here!
The property at 1550 Lennoxville is currently zoned L-I. The L-I zoning allows for a gas station if all criteria required for the Special Use Permit are met. According to the Beaufort Land Development Ordinances, a gas station is defined as:
“[a] building or lot where gasoline, oil, greases, and accessories are supplied,
stored, and dispensed to motor vehicles. A gas station can also be where batteries,
tires, gasoline, and other similar services are rendered. Fuel storage shall only be
for on-site retail sales.”9
The L-I zone DOES NOT allow for a Convenience Store. According to the Beaufort Land Development Ordinances, a Convenience Store is defined as:
“[a] retail store designated and stocked
to sell primarily food, beverages, gasoline, and household items”.8
The proposed gas station and convenience store will greatly increase traffic and traffic congestion from cars, commercial trucks, vehicles with boats, motorcycles, and large fuel supply vehicles.
- All surrounding neighborhoods will experience increased traffic as vehicles cut through to get to the Jim Dandy.
- Children, especially school bus riders, will be at increased risk for injury and death.
- Pedestrians and cyclists, including riders on the future bicycle path that crosses in front of this area, will be at increased risk for injury and death. In the Guiding Principles section of the Beaufort Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, Principle #1 is “Pedestrian and Bicyclist Considerations Come First.”
- Drivers using Ocean St. will be at risk for accidents due to reduced visibility from vehicles entering and exiting the parking lot.
- Because of the limited space, large fuel delivery trucks will need to make tight turns and may block private driveways. Traffic exiting from Ocean St. will be impacted.
- Vehicles towing boats will block access to either Ocean St. or Lennoxville Rd. when turning or backing in or out.
- Additional traffic and congestion can contribute to road rage.
The first site plan submitted by the applicant received push back from both the Beaufort Planning Board and the Board of Commissioners.
The applicant then reached out to NC DOT who provided comments to indicate that the traffic issues are WILL REQUIRE a concrete median in the middle of Lennoxville, as well as traffic control measures.
How will fuel delivery trucks, food delivery trucks, beer/beverage delivery trucks, waste pickup trucks, vehicles towing boats / RVs navigate this safely without impacting traffic and residents on Ocean St.?
- J. M. Davis Industries, Inc. was contacted by the NC Department of Environmental Quality in 2020 for out-of-compliance gas storage tanks. The company was cited for 3 violations and 7 deficiencies, all of which required corrective action (PDF). The Environmental Specialist noted the following:
- The failures noted in the above report show a lack of monitoring and a failure to follow processes for Underground Storage Tanks (UST), according to state and federal regulations. J.M. Davis is not a new company – they have multiple facilities and have been in business for many years. Shouldn’t a company that claims to care about the environment and safe fuel operations be doing a better job at confirming that their underground tanks aren’t leaking hazardous chemicals?
- 1550 Lennoxville has already experienced leaking fuel tanks AND a clean-up effort from the previous gas station that leased the property from 2003 to 2008 (Exprezit!). DEQ Site Locator Tool. See this Report (PDF) that discusses previous fuel discharge, cleanup, and groundwater issues.
- J.M. Davis previously owned fuel Underground Storage Tanks (UST’s) that were leased to the Harker’s Island Tackle Shop at 989 Island Road. A release from the UST system was confirmed on 6/6/14. (PDF). The surrounding area was both commercial AND residential, with houses within 100′ from the property. This property ALSO has groundwater contamination (PDF) and now has Perpetual Land Use Restrictions attached to the deed.
- In 2019, a group of scientists studied the fuel vapor emissions from gas station vent pipes. Their findings are alarming:
- “Vent emission factors were >10 times higher than previous estimates.”
- “Little is known about when releases occur, their magnitude, and their potential health consequences.”
- “Recorded vent emission factors were >10 times higher than estimates used to derive setback distances for gas stations. Setback distances should be revisited to address temporal variability and pollution controls in vent emissions.”
Noise and Light Pollution
- Customers of the convenience store and the gas station will be arriving starting in the early morning through the evening, seven days a week. This will greatly increase the noise generated into the surrounding neighborhoods, especially on weekends when residents are home and enjoying their own outside spaces.
- Some patrons of this type of business do not turn off their vehicles or music while shopping or fueling.
- Modern gas pumps often play audio and video advertisements each time the pump is activated.
- Additional hours of bright lighting will directly impact neighboring properties.
- Based on the initial site plan, parking for the convenience store will be oriented toward the residential areas, increasing the likelihood that vehicle headlights and stereos will create light and noise issues for nearby residents.
Potential for Crime
- Convenience stores are easy and common targets for robberies, at all times of the day.
- The Jim Dandy location in Morehead City (20th St) was robbed at 8 am on 05/19/2021, a Wednesday morning. The perpetrator was arrested and charged with four counts of kidnapping and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
- This robbery at the Jim Dandy in Havelock occurred at 2 pm on a Monday. The subject was charged with Felony Larceny, Felony Flee to elude arrest, Larceny of a motor vehicle, and Possession of a stolen vehicle. The local school was on lockdown, as the police were concerned about a hostage situation.
- Convenience stores, especially those with alcohol and tobacco sales, can increase loitering and crime in the surrounding areas. The neighborhoods close to 1550 Lennoxville support a large percentage of full-time residents, including children and older individuals who live alone. Adding this type of business could risk the safety of these vulnerable populations.
- FBI Uniform Crime Reporting – 2019 Report of Crime in the United States. Convenience stores are robbed twice as often as gas stations. Convenience stores and gas stations combined comprise almost 10% of all robberies in the US.
- Carteret County has seen an increase in crime due to addiction issues. WNCT9 article (March 2021) with statements from Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck:
- “We all have to understand that we have a heroin problem today because of the prescription opioid problem we had over the past 15-20 years”
- ” ‘A lot of people who are sitting in this jail today are here because of their addiction issues,’ Buck said. He also said he saw crimes increase related to people trying to fuel their addictions.”
Health and Safety Issues
- Gasoline is a toxic and highly flammable liquid. Continuous exposure to both the liquid and vapor forms of gasoline have significant health implications. Even a cursory search in PubMed provides ample study references that show an increased risk of cancers of the kidney, stomach, brain, pancreas, prostate, lung, and skin as well as hematopoietic and lymphatic leukemias. Additional ScienceDirect reference.
- Convenience stores rarely offer healthy sources of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Instead, they usually offer high‐fat food, sugary drinks, fast food, take‐away or snack food, and other unhealthy food options. Study: Association between access to convenience stores and childhood obesity: A systematic review.
- The increase in litter and trash would not only be unsightly but could attract wildlife and pests.
- Gas station canopies can and do collapse in high winds, and can become projectiles. Watch what happens to this canopy in Topsail Beach during Hurricane Florence (2018):
- The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report from December 2020 provides troubling statistics regarding the risks, costs, and lives lost to fires specifically from ‘Service or Gas Station’ locations:
- “Many service stations have convenience stores. While electrical distribution or lighting equipment was the leading cause of structure fires at gas or service station properties, cooking ranked second.”
- “More than half of the fires (56 percent) at these properties were vehicle fires.”
- “Thirty-eight percent of the outside trash or rubbish fires were intentionally set.”
- “From 2014 through 2018, local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 4,150 fires in or on service or gas station properties per year. These fires caused an average of three civilian deaths, 43 civilian fire injuries, and $30.0 million in direct property damage annually.”
- Many consumers (and employees) are unaware of, or deliberately ignore, safety precautions around gas pumps. Smoking, cell phone use (static electricity) and gas spillage are common and increase the risk of fire.
No Guarantee of how property will be used in the future
- In his petition for the permit, Mr. Davis presents a feel-good image of a “quaint community store” that would honor the background and heritage of Beaufort. However, there is no guarantee that this vision will actually be implemented. It could also change over time based on profitability or economic conditions.
- In addition, as Mr. Davis himself points out, gas stations are subject to sales, mergers, and acquisitions. If the Special Use Permit is granted now, future owners would still be allowed to operate a ‘convenience and gas station’ style business but with no guarantee of their management style or sense of values.
How it looked then is not how it looks now
- While a previous gas station did operate in this location, this part of Lennoxville had significantly fewer surrounding houses in 2003. Establishing a convenience store and gas station in this same area in 2021 endangers many more residents.
Not Compatible with Land Use Plan or Character of Town
- The Town of Beaufort has zoned1550 Lennoxville as a L1 site.
- According to the Beaufort Comprehensive Land Use Plan, L1 is defined as “L-I Light Industrial District. Purpose: This district is established to provide for the industries and for certain commercial establishments which in their normal operations have little or no adverse effect upon adjoining properties.”
- A gas station and convenience store will most definitely affect adjoining properties.
- As Kyle Garner, our town Planning Director, has pointed out, “We have been an adaptive community that once supported maritime trade from Naval stores to menhaden products and bi-products. More recently the community has been transformed into a Town driven by its historic and eco-tourism industry …” We agree with Mr. Garner’s statement and do not feel that the style of business requested in this petition fits into the current character of Beaufort at this proposed location.
Are these the type of Management Practices we should trust?
- J M Davis Enterprises operates 8 convenience store/gas station locations within Carteret and Craven counties. 5 of these locations have been subject to periodic sanitation inspections by county officials in the past 5 years (a sixth location joined in 2021). These reports are posted publicly here (Carteret) and here (Craven), and can be located by searching for either ‘Jim Dandy’ or ‘Handy House.’
- Of greatest concern to the surrounding neighborhoods are the number of violations for Garbage/Refuse, Ventilation/Lighting, Maintenance, Plumbing, Sewage/Wastewater, and Insects/Pests.
- These records raise questions:
- Almost 60% of the reports call out needed repairs – the same deficiencies often appearing on multiple reports because they were unaddressed from the previous inspection.
- Almost 40% of the submitted reports called out issues with garbage and dumpsters.
- 6 reports called out issues with insects or rodents.
- With a sanitary and maintenance record like this, can we expect a new location on Lennoxville to suddenly be well-managed and well-maintained? Or will it be more of the same – repairs ignored, sewage and plumbing problems, rodents, insects, and garbage?
- A second scorecard on the sanitation report lists violations related to the risk of Foodborne Illnesses. Like the above section, repeat violations were common.
- 41% of site visits – called out over and over again across the 5 years examined – found NO employees that had the mandatory Food Safety training class, a class that can easily be taken online.
- Problems with hot food not being hot enough, cold food not being cold enough, and food being stored for a questionable amount of time were surfaced in 1 out of every 5 inspections.
- Visible mold was found in the ice machines/bins every year from 2017 – 2020… and twice in 2018. Each time, the report called out the need to clean these areas more frequently.
- Is this the type of food management that Mr. Davis is offering to implement at 1550 Lennoxville? No thanks!
Special Use Permit Criteria
To Approve a Special Use Permit, the applicant (Jim Davis, Jim Dandy) must provide proof that ALL of the following criteria have been met:
- The proposed use is an allowable special use in the zoning district.
- The application is complete.
- The location and character of the use will be in conformity with the land use plan and other comprehensive planning elements.
- The traffic circulation is in accordance with current traffic engineering standards and town regulations.
- The proposed special use will not substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting properties.
- The proposed special use will be compatible and in harmony with adjoining land uses and the development patterns of the immediate area.
- The proposed use will not materially endanger the public health or safety of the community if located where proposed and developed according to the submitted and approved plan.
The Board of Commissioners must vote on each of the 7 items. If one or more of the 7 items are not approved by a majority vote, then the Special Use Permit must be denied.