Residents voice concerns about propane storage

Matt Beamer
By Kristin Rover
Sun staff

Union Township residents expressed concerns about the possibility of a propane business coming to the area during a zoning hearing April 10.

The propane business plans were included in a zoning change application for 3932 Nine Mile-Tobasco Road.

Union Township Zoning Administrator Cory Wright said the applicant is requesting zoning change for part of the property from single family residential to planned developmenet to be used for office and commercial use.

Wright said the owner of the property has plans to use the property for warehouse office space as well as a propane business that will be operated by another company.

The owner of the property, Dale Adams, and Queen City Propane CEO Mike Peterman, attended the meeting to discuss the application.

Peterman said his propane company frequently services the area.

“We see a need for propane storage in the area from an economic standpoint,” Peterman said.

Peterman said he would expect a tanker truck to service the propane storage tank once a day and usually in the morning.

Residents who attended the hearing expressed concern about the dangers of propane, the close proximity of the tank to homes in the area, traffic from tanker trucks on the road, and more.

Ed Woods, a Pierce Township resident who said he was speaking on behalf of his mother-in-law who lives close to the property, said his biggest concern is the propane being so close to homes.

“In 1998 in Batavia there was an explosion,” Woods said during the hearing. “Technology can fail and things can go wrong.”

Woods asked trustees if they believe that a residential area surrounded by homes is the right place to have the propane tank.

Elizabeth Zerhusen, who lives on Ellen Drive next to the property, said her husband works in the gas industry.

“It’s not the gas that is my concern, but the amount of gas,” Zerhusen said. “Any moment of any day something may happen.”

Zerhusen said she moved to the area to raise her family and doesn’t want to have to worry about a potential accident.

“I don’t understand why a residential area would be the best place for something like this,” she said. “I wish you would put yourselves in our shoes.”

Peterman said there are many regulations and requirements in the propane industry, and their company is careful to make sure all of the regulations are met.

“The tank will be certified,” Peterman said.

Peterman said they have been working closely with the Union Township Fire Department to develop a safety and security plan.

He said the industry has come along way since the explosion in Batavia.

“The technology has become so much better,” Peterman said.

In addition, Peterman said they plan to implement safety precautions including electronic security, fencing with barbed wire and notification devices.

Wright said the zoning commission requested approval of the zoning change after their hearing.

Trustees discussed the proposal before voting.

“We received a lot of information,” Trustee Matthew Beamer said about the request. “Certainly we rely on the fire department and the proper agencies for inspection and safety.”

Trustee Lloyd Acres said he understands all the concerns from residents, but he said the hearing is only to rezone the property.

“I think it is a nice development,” Trustee John McGraw said about the proposal. “But if I lived on Ellen or Nine Mile I’d be concerned myself.”

After no motion was made at first, McGraw asked about tabling the discussion, but then made a motion to approve the zoning change.

“With the modification that the propane be taken out of the request,” McGraw said.

McGraw and Acres voted yes and Beamer voted no after the motion was made.