Fort Mill residents concerned with construction of gas station, storage facility near elementary school

Hundreds petition development near school

FORT MILL, SC (WBTV) - An online petition against a retail development in Fort Mill has gained nearly 800 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

Some citizens in Fort Mill are concerned about the type of businesses expected to open at the intersection of Dobys Bridge Road and Fort Mill Parkway. According to town officials, a 7-Eleven gas station and a self-storage facility are a part of the construction plans.

Concerned citizens are worried the businesses will pose a threat to children since the development is located next to Dobys Bridge Elementary School.

“I just thought with how much focus they’ve put into our school system, they wouldn’t put something that’s such a safety hazard and health hazard right next to our school,” Citizen Christina Hayes said.

According to Fort Mill Mayor Guynn Savage, the land was zoned for commercial use between 2006 and 2008.

“Even with concerns, it is a lawful use of that property as it is zoned,” Mayor Savage said. “So we don’t really have an opportunity to tell someone they can’t build in that area when it is zoned for that use.”

She says plans for the development went through requirements set forth by the planning commission, and public hearings were held regarding the issue.

Dobys Bridge Elementary School opened in 2014, according to a school spokesperson. Although plans for the storage facility and gas station were not known at the time of the school’s construction, district leaders did know the surrounding area was zoned for commercial use.

“Those folks that operate and manage our school districts are experts in determining where schools need to be to serve our community and they go through state-required processes that determine if a site is appropriate,” Savage said.

Growth along the Fort Mill Parkway is expected to continue beyond this development. Savage says plans are already in motion for a Harris Teeter and a medical facility to be constructed nearby.

“We certainly welcome anyone’s concerns as we move forward with all our operations, but I do want to express pride in the fact that our staff, the volunteers, and the planning commission and everyone, our partners at the school district. We all work through this together because we all live here and we want it to remain the beautiful place that it is,” Savage said.

The Town of Fort Mill will continue to monitor operations of the businesses, as it does with all businesses in Fort Mill through code enforcement, Savage says.

WBTV reached out to DHEC to find out if they had any concerns over the location of this gas station. A spokesperson sent us this response:

"DHEC hasn’t received any permit applications for installation of an underground storage tank (UST) system at the intersection of Doby’s Bridge Road and Fort Mill Parkway.

"DHEC’s Underground Storage Tank Control Regulations specify installation and operating requirements for UST systems with a goal of preventing releases into the environment. DHEC inspects USTs on an annual basis to ensure owners and operators maintain them in compliance with the regulations. Please note, the UST regulations do not address zoning requirements.

“Additionally, the EPA sets multiple federal air regulations for gas stations and other gasoline distribution operations. These regulations require engineering controls, like vapor recovery systems, to reduce hazardous air pollutant emissions from escaping into the atmosphere as gasoline is transferred to USTs at gas stations and as gasoline is pumped into vehicle gas tanks.”

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