ALBANY PARK — Neighbors Wednesday night voiced their opposition to plans for a new gas station at the intersection of Kimball and Montrose avenues.
A proposal was recently submitted by 7-Eleven to add four double-sided gas pumps in its parking lot at 4346 N. Kimball Ave.
Neighbors, however, circulated a petition opposing the pumps, citing traffic and environmental concerns, and questioning the need for another gas station. The alderman for the neighborhood and from the neighboring ward now say they oppose the project.
This would not be the first time the property housed a gas station, according to reps for the project.
“We bought it from Citgo in 1985 and it was an extremely old gas station. After our acquisition we had to remove the fuel because it was an extremely dirty site,” said Mark Bettenhausen, a senior real estate representative with 7-Eleven. “When we came in and bought this in the 1980s we cleaned up the whole site.”
In addition to the new gas station, the property would also get an overall facelift that includes new landscaping, a renovated store, added security cameras, a public bathroom, new fencing and lighting, Bettenhausen said.
Those upgrades require the gas station addition to be economically viable for the site, he said.
The gas station and renovation plans need approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to move foward, said Ald. Carlos Rosa (35th), the alderman for the ward.
If approved, the store would be closed for at least 90 days while crews give the store and property a facelift and add the gas station pumps and related infrastructure, Bettenhausen said. If built, the gas station would get fuel deliveries multiple times during the week during “non-peak hours.”
“These fuel tanks we’re putting in here are double lined and meet all the standards across the country and the state of Illinois,” Bettenhausen said.
In addition to yearly inspections, the state also requires the pumps and lines for the gas station to be tested every 30 days. If anything ever happens underground, monitors will be set off. The state requires an alarm to be addressed within the first 24 hours, he said.
Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, a petition against the addition of the gas station was circulated in the neighborhood. A petition with 40 signatures was submitted to the Zoning Board by Margarita Reina on Aug. 16.
“There’s no need for another gas station in the area,” Reina said.
The petitioners’ concerns include environmental and health risks, increased traffic putting pedestrians at risk, increased crime and a negative impact on property values. The petition also said there are five other gas stations within a 1.5 mile radius of the site 7-Eleven.
Both Rosa and neighboring Ald. Rosanna Rodriguez (33rd) submitted letters of opposition to the gas station after learning of the community’s concerns. Their concerns echoed the ones found in the petition.
During Wednesday’s meeting, one resident asked why 7-Eleven chose to add a gas station to their store when so many other gas stations are nearby.
“We have a strategy across Chicagoland where we desire to have locations, we have a team in Dallas who pinpoint the best places in any city of where to put a gas station,” Bettenhausen said.
Bettenhausen was also asked why 7-Eleven didn’t instead chose to redevelop the site into a mixed-use building that uses more of the property’s square footage like the company has done in other areas with a high volume of CTA commuters.
The reason was that the company didn’t see the area as having enough pedestrian traffic to justify not having a parking lot for the site.
Other neighbors raised environmental concerns.
“They worked so hard to get those Citgo pumps out and clean the area up to make it safe. So why do they want to go and put another gas station there? It doesn’t make sense to me,” Juan Ibarra said.
The Zoning Board of Appeals will meet at 2 p.m. Sept. 20 at City Hall to review the proposal for the gas station.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.