August 4, 2021
TO THE EDITOR:
On Aug. 9 the Beaufort Board of Commissioners will consider whether a Jim Dandy gas station and convenience store will be built where today’s Austin Vet Hospital sits on Lennoxville Road.
A recent writer to your paper asked, “Why Shouldn’t a Gas station go on Lennoxville Road?”
As a new homeowner on Beaufort Walk, scientist, and hopeful mother of a family on this street someday, let me answer this question your reader posed the residences near this gas station – we are extremely concerned for the health and safety of our environment and for our families.
I moved to Beaufort because I have a passion for our beautiful town. I am a Fisheries Biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where my life-long passion is preserving the environment. I have also worked at several local bars and volunteered in our community. I simply love Beaufort and our community.
My home is one of the many residences where Jim Davis plans to place 30,000-gallons of gas within 20 – 200 ft of our homes. In fact, over 200 Beaufortians are also close by. We have shared with the Beaufort Planning Board numerous reports from PhDs, toxicologists and epidemiologists, which delineate that close proximity to daily release of Benzene fumes (under 1,500 feet) causes leukemia in children. I also grow produce in my garden, which I donate to food pantries, and am concerned about the health impacts of these chemicals in our ecosystem.
We have met with Jim Davis to hear his vision for this convenience store and gas station. He was quoted in the News-Times saying he wants to build the station as a “commitment to community that I believe I exhibit in other markets.” But we researched his other stores. The NC Department of Environmental Quality records cite his company for numerous violations at existing Jim Dandy stores in our area:
• Failure to meet corrosion protection requirements
• Failure to provide leak detection monitoring
• Failure to complete primary operator training
• Failure to meet upgrade requirements
• Failure to provide periodic inspection of the lining of underground storage tanks within 10 years of installation
These serious violations pose dangers to public health and safety! If past history is any indication, can we expect the same lack of compliance at future Jim Dandy locations?
Furthermore, the town has confirmed this special use permit (if obtained) is transferable. That means even the best-intentioned Jim Davis can obtain the special use permit and turn around and sell this access to Shell, Speedway, or Sheetz by exploiting the neighbors’ health risks. Do we want to expose residential homes to this type of negligence and danger?
1550 Lennoxville used to be a gas station between 2003- 2008; however, this site was so poorly maintained that it required environmental clean-up actions for it to be safely used again. Where this previous gas station sat, should not be the “settled upon” location for a Jim Dandy when the surrounding area has changed since its residency. Our local environment has suffered enough from this type of pollution, please don’t repeat the past.
Beaufort desperately needs an additional gas station, but not in the middle of our neighborhood. The neighbors of 1550 Lennoxville Rd. would gladly help find another, more suitable location for a gas station in Beaufort that doesn’t present such dangerous hazards so close to home.
Board of Commissioners, please protect us! We are hopeful mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers of children of Beaufort. Please don’t locate an environmental hazard in the middle of a residential neighborhood, endangering more than 200 Beaufortians.
Thank you for protecting this community.