Steamboat Springs Four City Council members made a clear stand Tuesday night that they were not willing to risk the health, safety and welfare of the community for a gas station.
In a 4-3 decision, the council denied plans for the South Side Station at Walton Creek and stated concerns that potential gas leaks could harm nearby drinking water.
Council members Arianthe Stettner, Paul Strong, Loui Antonucci and Kathy Connell all voted against Steve and Denise Peterson's final plans to build a new 4,460-foot commercial building on U.S. 40 at 955 Weiss Drive. The building proposed a gas station, car wash and liquor store.
"There have been some studies and questions that have been raised by members of the community," Stettner said before casting her vote. "And they create great concern with me and we only have one chance to do things right."
The proposed site of the new gas station is about 1,000 feet from a horizontal water well known as an infiltration gallery. Operated by Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, the infiltration gallery collects groundwater through perforations in a large PVC pipe.
The city operates a similar well on the opposite side of the Yampa River.
"The fact there is a gas station and car wash in close proximity to the city water supply and infiltration gallery during a time when water is an ever-increasing valuable resource is a huge concern," Stettner said. "We are charged with the health, safety and welfare of the community."
As City Council President Connell added, the planned development was added growth along the U.S. 40 corridor, something that is a growing concern in Steamboat.
She linked it to the South Village at Steamboat plan that was brought before the Council last week. It would bring in commercial space at the U.S./40 Mt. Werner Road interchange.
"I am troubled by the fact that we are looking at another gas station, liquor store and car wash at the gateway entrance into town. Just last week we dealt with the same thing," Connell said.
Despite some Council members' concerns, developer Denise Peterson said she felt the plans had gone far beyond any environmental requirements.
"Clearly their minds were made up prior to the meeting," Peterson said. "We went state of the art, above and beyond any gas station in Steamboat."
All the representatives speaking for the Petersons told the Council Tuesday night that the applicants had gone much further than most gas station owners in installing environmental safeguards and were well beyond state and federal regulations.
The Petersons were planning to install two underground monitoring wells designed to detect any contamination of groundwater. They would have also installed double-walled storage tanks and piping beneath the gas station.
During the planning commission meeting on May 30, Mount Werner Water Manager Bob Stoddard told the board he was satisfied with the system and said it would take 17 years for an leakage to get to the well site.
Councilmen Bud Romberg said he felt there were a number of safeguards built into the plan and wanted the opportunity to see if the environmental issues could be worked out.
Council members Nancy Kramer and Steve Ivancie joined Romberg in approving the plan.