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Fairfax Readies for Chevron Showdown

Emotions run high as the Town Council prepares to deliberate a proposed chain gas station. A vote tonight is unlikely though.

The future of a shuttered gas station on 2001 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard parcel (between Claus Drive and Azalea Avenue) goes before the Fairfax Town Council tonight. Credit: Gideon Rubin
The future of a shuttered gas station on 2001 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard parcel (between Claus Drive and Azalea Avenue) goes before the Fairfax Town Council tonight. Credit: Gideon Rubin

The Fairfax Town Council tonight will wade into some controversial waters as it starts deliberating a land-use issue that some say could reshape the city’s identity in a way they don't want to see.

The 7 p.m. hearing on a proposed Chevron station in the heart of the town’s business district is expected to draw big crowds, evoke strong emotions, and drag on well into the night.

“It’s going to be a good one to watch,” Councilwoman Barbara Coler said.

But it’s unlikely that anyone will leave the meeting with much better idea of how it’s all going to end than when they walked in.

That’s according to Councilman David Weinsoff, who told Patch on Tuesday that he believes the council will want time to digest the volume of information that will be presented by the town staff and the applicant, along with a swell of input from community that includes representatives of an organized an organized opposition.

“That’s a lot of information to digest in one fell swoop,”

Weinsoff said, noting a vote on the proposal on the council’s next scheduled meeting on Jan. 8 seemed like a more realistic scenario.

The proposal has the blessings of the Department of Planning and Building Services, which issued a staff report last month recommending the council approve a conditional use permit for the 2001 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard parcel as a gas station and convenience store.

Prospective owner Arash Salkhi wants to refurbish the 2001 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard parcel (between Claus Drive and Azalea Avenue) where Fairfax Gas operated until about two years ago as a Chevron station with an adjacent ExtraMile convenience store.

PM Design Group’s Ron Jacobs, who submitted an application for a conditional use permit on Salkhi’s behalf, did not respond to a message left at his Santa Rosa office.

A group calling itself “No Chevron in Fairfax” has launched a petition that aims to sway the council to reject the commission’s recommendations.

They say the two locally owned gas stations Fairfax already has are enough, and that approving a Chevron station would open the floodgates to Starbucks and Chipotle and other chain businesses driving out locals.

Additionally, they say it would create traffic hazards, increase pollution, “tarnish” the town’s charm, and that food wrappers and beer cans sold at the ExtraMile store would “sabotage” the town’s zero waste goals for 2020.

The parcel has seen no other use than as a fuel station since the days V8’s roared down Sir Francis Drake Boulevard when it opened as a Durrell’s Chevron station in1951.

Weinsoff said the parcel could be returned to “background levels” that would allow it to be repurposed, but he acknowledged that would involve compliance with hazardous waste and cleanup laws that could involve underground tank leakage.

“You can clean anything up,” he said. “It’s just a question of money.”

Weinsoff insists that he hasn’t made a decision on how he’ll vote on the proposal, but he acknowledged that filling the vacant lot is a priority.

He said that there is support for the Chevron among his constituents who haven’t been as vocal about the issue as those on the other side.

No councilmember has yet taken a public stance on this issue.

“One is always looking for ways to be the bills and sales tax is in the mix in that,” Weinsoff said. “Do I want it to be an empty, unused plot of land, no, but the conversation has to be had in full with the community.”

Coler was equally adamant that she hasn’t decided how she’ll vote on the measure, but she sounded as if she’s leaning against it in an interview with Patch on Tuesday.

“We have a lot of people against it who are voicing their concerns to us, but the point of the hearing is to really evaluate the information to make a decision,” she said.

Coler questioned whether the planning commissioners did their due diligence in their evaluation of the proposal.

Coler is a former Fairfax planning commissioner.

“Maybe I missed something in reading the minutes but I’m surprised that there wasn’t much a more vociferous discussion among the planning commissioners about the pros and cons,” she said.

“I’m seeing quite a few cons but I’m but I’m withholding my position until I hear all sides at the public hearing.”

RV dweller December 04, 2013 at 11:10 AM
How exactly is he getting money from this? Calling him names with no proof? That lot has been a gas station forever, why the fuss now? Instead of spewing, give some facts. I hope they put it in just to see the opponents lose their minds over it.
Tom Higgins December 04, 2013 at 12:29 PM
I guess when you live out of an RV you have a special affinity for Gas Stations. But the little town of Fairfax hardly needs 3 in the space of 500 yrds. Not sure what you are talking about. Is David "Not" a career politician? Was his statement "Not" Non Committal? No lies there. Spew? Name calling? I would like proof too. Maybe David will submit his 2012 and 2013 tax returns to see if he is actually getting more that he is guaranteed through his salary as council member which I think is 26,000$. If you look at the Town Organizational Chart, you will see that the Tax Paying Residents are at the top of the food chain. With the overwhelming town outcry to abolish big business and stop this gas station from happening, why is there even a need for a vote. The people have spoken. NO NEW GAS STATION!
RV dweller December 04, 2013 at 01:16 PM
RV stands for Ross Valley.
Sierra Salin December 04, 2013 at 04:19 PM
R.V dweller is a anonymous troll. Comments such as "I hope they put it in just to see the opponents lose their minds over it," show what sort of community heart he has. Tom, council members get in the neighborhood of $400 per month, and if you break that down into the hours most of them spend dealing with issues, well, none of em are in it for the money. That would barely supply the drugs or alcohol most folks would need just to deal with all sides of any issue, and few issues are "black n white." Most folks are non involved most of the time, and start squeaking and have to come up to speed/get educated, and miss most of what came before. Why not be more interested and informed in general? Whatever else may or may not be going on, political views/actions or not, the Town Council members, more often than not, takes turns, and cycle through the Mayor position, and it has little relevance to the Chevron issue. What does have relevance is the individual councilors leadership, actions, and records, regardless of being Mayor or not.
RV dweller December 04, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Sierra- 1) what does being anonymous have to do with anything? If I said call me 'tom' does that make it more credible for you? Love how you throw around the word troll if someone disagrees with you. 2) it was a gas station before, and now it is an eyesore. If it was another gas station - not the end of the world. Just because i do not agree with your point of view, you deem my opinion negative.
Syrah December 04, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Don't worry RV, Sierra is just having a bad week because he lost $6 at Chase Bank the other day. Let's pray for his well being.
Sierra Salin December 04, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Hmm, anonymous.... Why do you continually obfuscate and try to hide? Why do Anna and RvDweller have the same postings, and show the same in my emails? Because they are the same Troll, as is likely Syra. Same person. Trolls do trollish things...... And, we still know you, whatever name you hide behind. I hope some day you grow up and do something worthwhile with your time. Join me at Chase sometime, or speak up tonight perhaps?
Syrah December 04, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Nope, wrong-o. I'm me and only me. You should really watch that name-calling though, it's not a good look for you. Good luck with your $6 bro, lol.
Sierra Salin December 04, 2013 at 07:36 PM
I see you switched Anna back to RV Dweller. A troll by any name is still a troll, Syrah, I mean, Anna, I mean R.V Dweller. $6? No, I did not cash the check. They would not give me a receipt and refused to cash it without.

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