Sarnia has cleared the way for a developer to build a gas bar, restaurant and convenience store at the northwest corner of Modeland Road and Berger Road.
The rezoning application, approved last month by city council, also allows for a carwash, dog wash and restaurant drive-through on the 1.5-acre property.
The new commercial plaza will have two traffic access points – from southbound Modeland only because of an existing median; and Berger Road, through an easement across the Suncor Nature Way trail.
Despite green-lighting the proposal, councillors worried about its impact on the environment and future housing.
The low-lying former farmland is in a drinking water Intake Protection Zone and is vulnerable to flooding. All new buildings there must be raised to a standard elevation.
Because the gas station’s fuel tanks will be buried, several councillors wondered what would happen if they leak or spill.
“My problem is this gas station is on the floodplain,” said Coun. Anne Marie Gillis.
Planning director Alan Shaw said staff reviewed a risk management plan prepared by D.C. McCloskey Engineering and found it sufficient.
“It seems that a lot of the protections that weren’t in place before are going to be in place now,” said Coun. Mike Kelch, referring to a 2008 application for the site.
Kelch said because the plaza sits directly on the trail its owners should consider providing publicly accessible washrooms for cyclists and walkers.
“You’re going to build a facility, I want it to be trail-friendly,” he said.
Gillis voted against the project, saying increased noise from the carwash, the traffic and drive-through will be “a real game-changer” for residents who live in the area.
“I would like to see commercial development embracing the environment more than what you’ve done here,” she said.
Councillors Brian White and Bev MacDougall also voted no, saying the project will hurt the livability of a neighbourhood that is still under development.
Council was told a noise barrier would be used to reduce its impact on neighbours.