The City Council has voted unanimously to ban any above or below ground storage tanks of 1,000 gallons or more of flammable or explosive material (i.e. gasoline) from being installed within 300 feet of residential property in the city of Cranston. Many residents who opposed the construction of a Cumberland Farms on Park Ave. spoke at the Council meeting last week to voice their support on the ordinance.
That ordinance was sponsored by Ward 1 Councilman Steve Stycos, who said he proposed the change after the two attempts by Cumberland Farms to get a gas station in Edgewood. He said he opposed both of these from the get-go, and pointed out that the Federal Housing Administration wouldn’t give mortgage insurance to people buying homes within 300 feet of underground gas storage tanks.
Stycos said that during the hearings on Cumberland Farms, a Rhode Island Housing official testified that nearly 40 homes would have been affected had the gas station been built in Edgewood.
The ordinance does not apply to existing service stations within 300 feet of residences. Stycos said he wanted to have them banned for those tanks that have been inactive for two years, but other members of the Council opposed this and amended his ordinance to make the ban “effective immediately.”
Lynne Michaelson, an Edgewood resident opposed to the gas station, told the Council of other cities and states around the country that have similar storage tank bans, and said that making this law would create a “safe separation between hazardous, flammable material and housing.”
Sheila Ressiger said that this ordinance would improve the safety and well-being of Cranston residences, and was a “very sensible precaution to take.”
Kim Ladeffian, another resident of the Edgewood area, said her neighborhood already has 9 gas stations, and an ordinance like this should have already been in place to reduce the number of storage tanks around houses in the area.
“We should not even be having this discussion because of its ridiculousness,” she told the Council. “We should not be subject to whether or not a thousand gallon or more gas tank can be put in people’s back yards.”
Jeff Gale, a candidate for Ward 1 City Council in the upcoming election, said the most important aspect of this is the first-time homebuyer loans that would have been affected had more service stations be put within 300 feet of residences.
“This is a positive thing for the city,” Gale said.
Franchesca Bishop said she wanted the Cumberland Farms proposal to be the last one of its nature.
“I want to make sure that no other resident ever has to go through what we had to, because they shouldn’t have to,” she said in regards to the meetings and deliberations the Council had over that proposal.
John Donegan added that this ordinance would “put many of their [Cranston citizens] concerns at ease” over whether a gas storage tank would be nearby their homes.
“This would end any doubt that if this or any such proposal were to come up again,” he said. “It would save people a lot of time wondering what the Council is going to do. I think it’s pretty clear the residents of Edgewood want a gas station in their backyard, nor do I think any other residents of Cranston would want a gas station built in their backyards.”
Councilman Stycos said he wished the ordinance hadn’t been amended at all, but was happy with it getting passed.
“I would have liked that addition, but the most important thing is that the ban on new stations within 300 feet of residences passed,” he said.