Shell Station coming down
By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
Officials with the city of East Brewton agreed Monday evening to go ahead with the process of tearing down the Shell station, stating the condition of the premise is a constant “eye sore.”
The appearance of the service station and the property it sits on violates a number of the city's nuisance law, and the owner of the property could face potential EPA violations if the property remains neglected. The name of the owner was not disclosed by city officials.
Lawton Shipp, a city code enforcer, said that he has contacted the owner several times to get him to clean up his property but has never gotten a response from him. The “eye sore” is a violation of the city's nuisance ordinance, which officials have been revamping for the past year.
The abandoned service station has been a source of problems for the city. A rash of break-ins has caused the ABC board to take control of some of the contents, including taking out all of the alcohol and cigarettes. Officials said that they have noticed recent activity at the station, in which a moving truck has been spotted and unidentified individuals appeared to be legally moving other contents out of the store.
Councilman Wayne Howard said there's a potential EPA issue the city must contend with the unused tanks still underground. According to EPA facts, leaking underground tanks are a major source of soil and groundwater contamination throughout the United States, with the tremendous volume of gasoline, oil and other petroleum products stored in these tanks. Federal and state regulations are in place to reduce the risk of leaks and the cost of major cleanups.
According to Shipp, the property owner is required to get the tanks from underground. He added, however, that a trust funded by the EPA currently pays for the maintenance of the tanks.
The issue regarding commercial development is treated the same as the residential nuisance law. Under the city of East Brewton's nuisance law, the owner is given 120 days from the date of notice if the building is in violation of the law.
After the 120 days, the issue will go back to council members who will set a hearing date. The owner has one week from the hearing date to notify council members of what kind of action will be taken to fix the nuisance. If the owner does not respond, the city has the option to tear down the structure.
Clark said he is in favor of tearing the building down because it would ultimately cost more money for the city to maintain the property.