Breaking ground on new Atlantic Beach gas station brings back debate

Despite contractors' changes to ease concerns, some residents oppose development

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Breaking ground on a new gas station in Atlantic Beach has brought back a community debate.

Despite changes that contractors made to ease concerns, some neighbors said they're still against the development. 

The Gate gas station, which is being built on property next to Beach Diner on Atlantic Boulevard, will have seven pumps and a 6,400-square-foot convenience store that will be open 24/7.

Whether they're for or against the project, Atlantic Beach residents continue to debate. Some people said the construction is underway -- whether they like it or not. 

Residents, including Debbie Arsenault, have been against the development since it was proposed about three years ago. Opponents voiced concerns about traffic and decreasing property values. 

"It's going to be right at their back doors. This is a small community. We don't need stuff like this," Arsenault told News4Jax on Friday. "I'm just a little disappointed to see construction has started."

But others have embraced the change, saying the old commercial plaza was an eyesore. 

"It was really run down. It needed to go," said one Atlantic Beach resident named Jim. "It's nice to see something taking it's place."

For years, the gas station has been in the spotlight with protests against construction, public meetings and a lawsuit. Instead of the original plan to build a 14-pump gas station, contractors modified their renderings to a smaller seven-pump gas station and convenience store.

During a previous forum, Gate also announced plans to landscape the area close to homes and strategically place entrances and exits to keep heavy traffic on Atlantic Boulevard instead of the back roads.

"I'm for it," Jim said. "It's more jobs and there's definitely a need for it."

Contractors told News4Jax the Gate gas station is expected open sometime in spring 2018.