ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – There was a big turnout Tuesday night in Atlantic Beach, where eager neighbors wanted to learn more about a plan to build a large Gate gas station near the Beach Diner on Atlantic Boulevard.
The informational meeting was held by Gate to make sure anyone with questions about the project could get them answered.
Gate Petroleum would like to put seven pumps and a 6,400 square-foot convenience store in a small space next to Beach Diner on Atlantic Boulevard.
This has been a hot button issue in the community. People who live there say adding this gas station would not only compromise safety in the area, others say it would drive down property values.
That’s why Gate hosted an open house Tuesday night to hear the concerns of the community. A group called Atlantic Beach Cares is against the gas station.
"We don't want this to be built," said Susan Perry with Atlantic Beach Cares. "Most of the people are against it. They can see what's going to happen. It will destroy the neighborhood."
With signs in hand, Perry and Susanne Barker of Atlantic Beach Cares aren't afraid to show they're not here to mince words.
"What's the point? Why would anyone think this is the place for a gas station is beyond my comprehension? It simply is not a good idea," said Perry. "Gasoline stations are going to be obsolete in 20 or 30 years because electric cars are really starting to come. Tesla has introduced a $35,000 electric car that will get 210 miles per charge."
"We have over 2,000 people who have signed a petition against this," said Susanne Barker with Atlantic Beach Cares.
Tuesday night, representatives from Gate met with community members at Adele Grage Cultural Center in Atlantic Beach. This will be chance for everyone to talk facts, figures, and concerns.
For Perry and Barker one of those concerns is property value.
"The real estate appraiser said that...he estimated that property values would go down about 20 percent. Because, who wants to live across the street from a gas station?” said Perry.
Some say not only would the gas station add traffic to the area, it may even invite some crime.
Barker says as time goes on, more signs go up, and more people are joining in the fight. Barker looks forward to what will come to at the meeting.
"It is going to solidify the fight against this mega station. It's wonderful that Gate has given us the venue," said Barker.
Barker and Perry said most things would work in the spot instead of the gas station. They want to see something that wouldn't bring in a bunch of extra traffic.
“We really are looking for feedback from the residents to give them information about the facts related to the project and also hear from them and answer any questions that they have," GATE Petroleum spokesperson Misty Skipper said. "What we’re doing is trying to create that two-way dialogue so we can find out any concerns they have, potentially look to address any of those concerns, and also make sure that they’re dealing in facts. What we have designed here is a neighborhood store. Its been designed by an Atlantic Beach architect to fit the character and the community here. And also it’s significantly smaller than what we’d put in the intestates or the Town Center. It’s being designed specifically for this area."
The plans are not set in stone yet. The City Commission still has yet to review the proposal.