Santa Rosa County, Florida Healthy Neighborhoods Alliance Wins Gas Station Safety Zone Battle
On December 12th, the Santa Rosa County Commissioners voted unanimously to enforce a law requiring a 500-foot safety zone between homes and new gas stations. This safety zone protects the public from gas station fire and explosion danger as well as reducing the adverse health effects of the chemicals released from gas station fuel storage tanks and at the pump.
The Santa Rosa County Commissioners were asked to ignore the safety zone law so a new gas station could be built in Navarre, FL. Setting this precedent for one gas station could result in the exposure of many other Santa Rosa County homes to the threats posed by new gas stations.
The Santa Rosa Healthy Neighborhoods Alliance was formed by Navarre residents who were alarmed by a proposal to build the gas station so close to their homes. Since the site was only 250-feet wide, the gas station would be within a few hundred feet of homes. This proposal violated the Santa Rosa County law requiring a minimum 500-foot safety zone between new gas station storage tanks and residentially zoned areas. The Navarre gas station applicant requested a variance to the safety zone law which was denied by the County Zoning Board in October. The applicant appealed the Zoning Board decision to the Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners.
Alarmed by the prospect that the Commissioners might reverse the denial, the Navarre residents formed the Santa Rosa Healthy Neighborhoods Alliance. The Alliance was organized by reaching out to others living near potential gas stations sites throughout the County. The message was:
“If the County Commissioners allow a new gas station within 500-feet of the Navarre homes, one could be allowed near any Santa Rosa home.”
With our assistance:
- A webpage was created by CEDS to explain why the 500-foot safety zone is essential to protecting public health.
- CEDS helped the Alliance win the support of other Santa Rosa County citizen groups, a number of which signed on to a letter urging the County Commissioners to fully enforce the 500-foot safety zone law: https://wp.me/aaUd8q-Wz.
- CEDS also created an online petition which was signed by 151 people living throughout the five County Commissioner districts: https://wp.me/aaUd8q-WA.
- CEDS assisted the Alliance in encouraging the petition signers to call or email their Commissioner and urge upholding the safety zone law.
- Finally, we helped the Alliance produce a large turnout of folks at the December 12th hearing who spoke about the very serious health effects of gas station emissions and the importance of maintaining the 500-foot safety zone.
These efforts resulted in the unanimous December 12th vote by the County Commissioners to uphold the 500-foot safety zone law which nixed the gas station proposed dangerously close to the Navarre homes.