Proposed Gate Gas station location causes controversy

By Rob Sweeting - Anchor, Jason Mealey - Producer/assignment editor

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. - A fight over a proposed gas station has started even before the matter is brought to the Atlantic Beach City Commission. A crowd gathered Monday evening to voice complaints about a Gate station that could go up next to the Beach Diner.

Residents of the beach community say the station would put a squeeze on parking for the popular restaurant. The Gate Petroleum Gas station project wasn't even on the agenda. But concerned residents brought up the matter before the commission.

They were there to say no to what they say would be a "mega" gas station and convenience store. The strip mall adjacent to a longtime favorite, Beach Diner, is being bought by Gate Petroleum.The diner's owner says he's been there for a long time and he thinks a mega gas station may not be the right fit.

"On October 2014, when Gate Petroleum purchased the property at that point we were getting parking. We've been there for 18-years with 12-years remaining on our lease. And we've got no desire with wanting a gas station in areas that need gas stations. But at the end of the day there is a time and place for everything," Bary Adeeb, Beach Diner owner said.

So friends of the Diner took their fight to city hall for a scaled-down station. They put on their T-shirts in support of the diner.

"I can't get started without thanking a band of community folks. They banded together two weeks ago. And I can't help but get started without thanking my staff, our loyal customers, our friends and supporters that have pulled together in the last few days," Adeeb said.

The supporters are getting ahead of the game to let the city know the diner doesn't want its parking limited any more than it is. A Gate attorney says that will be up to a judge.

"Between Gate Petroleum and Mr. Adeeb we have tried to reach a settlement. That has not been productive or successful. We were unable and we are asking a court. The judge will tell us how much parking Mr. Adeeb is permitted, That decision of the court will in part determine the design and configuration of the station," said T.R. Hainline, a Gate Petroleum lawyer.

Gate still has to go through the permitting process and the city has to approve the project before it moves forward. There is no word on how long that will take.

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