An Arco gas station and ampm store are slated to be complete by May or June this year near Greywolf Elementary School. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

An Arco gas station and ampm store are slated to be complete by May or June this year near Greywolf Elementary School. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Arco gas station concerns persist for school reps

Greywolf Elementary parents continue to ask questions

SEQUIM — Greywolf Elementary School parents and staff continue to express concerns about an Arco fueling facility and a convenience store slated tentatively to be complete by this spring.

Construction on the development started in December 2018, and some school representatives — including School Board members, parents and staff — have expressed concerns about the gas station at recent school board meetings.

Susan Baritelle, Greywolf Elementary School Parent Teacher Association president, said the close proximity of the site to the school has raised safety concerns.

Baritelle said after construction broke ground she began receiving questions from parents and staff about the development.

“Our biggest concern is traffic coming in and out of the easement road and the school’s ‘looper lane,’ ” Baritelle said.

The “looper lane” includes a south entrance to the elementary school grounds from Carlsborg Road and is a shared access easement by the district and private owners for the project site and a few other lots south of the school.

Baritelle said many parents use the looper lane to drop off their children for school in the mornings and pick them up in the afternoons and that the buses also use this road.

Steve Gray, deputy director and planning manager for Clallam County Department of Community Development, said he anticipates that those driving to the gas station are not likely to use the school’s looper lane entrance because of the way the gas station’s ingress and egress is designed.

Gray said there will be an ingress and egress to the gas station from Carlsborg Road, and a deceleration lane is slated for U.S. Highway 101 west of Carlsborg Road where drivers can turn right into the gas station.

“I suspect once those are in and once the business is open for customer service those will be the main entrances used,” Gray said.

“Our understanding has been a shared easement for the school and the four lots along the highway there,” Gray said.

“Where we’ve been seeing a lot of traffic has been the construction traffic which should be diminishing according to the contractor.”

Gray said while there are two designated entrances into the gas station, his understanding is that the developer at this point is not blocking off the shared access of that road.

Communication concerns

School staff and board members also have expressed confusion about why the district and elementary school did not receive prior notice that a gas station and convenience store were going to be built next to the school.

Gray said because the development is built in the Carlsborg General Commercial zone, it is an allowed use that does not require notice to be sent directly to neighboring residents or businesses and a public hearing or comment period also is not required.

However, because the development is larger than 4,000 square feet, Gray said it did require a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review be performed by the county. A mitigated determination of nonsignificance and analysis of the site was made that included an environmental checklist.

According to the county’s checklist for the site, a SEPA review was completed in December 2017, and Gray said the county did publish a legal notice of the SEPA review in the Peninsula Daily News on Nov. 9, 2017, when there was a 14-day comment period after it was published.

Baritelle said several parents and school staff also have concerns about the potential environmental effects of the gas station that could affect school facilities or students.

“The kids are subject to air quality issues and gas station hazardous materials that could run off onto the playground,” Baritelle said.

The environmental checklist for the site, under “Land and Shoreline” use, lists the surrounding adjacent properties of the site, including a car lock fuel station to the north, a Shell gas station to the east, a Chevron station and warehouse to the south and vacant land to the west, but it does not mention the elementary school at the northwest corner.

The checklist does mention the school under “Recreation,” where it states: “An elementary school is located to the north of the project site which may provide informal recreational opportunities for various activities.” It also said in this section that the project will not displace any recreational uses.

Baritelle said she believes that if the school was mentioned as an adjacent property, it may have required a full environmental report instead of just a SEPA review.

She also has concerns about established emergency protocols for the gas station, the speed limits near the gas station, increased traffic near the school, and the possibility of the convenience store selling beer or alcohol in the future.

“Clearly the county reviews the checklist and looks for things that are important or missing,” Gray said.

“We knew what the surrounding areas were, and the place where [the developers] mention the school is in a potential recreation area,” he said.

School board directors have discussed attending the next Clallam County commissioners meeting to express concerns related to the gas station and convenience store, and Baritelle said she also plans to express these concerns at the next commissioner’s meeting as well.

________

Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at ehawkins@sequimgazette.com.

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