Residents hope to prevent propane neighbor

GAMBLEWOOD — When Jason Parker and his wife Rebecca moved into the Gamblewood six years ago, they didn’t think they would ever be neighbors with a 30,000-gallon propane tank.

But an application is currently being reviewed by the Kitsap County Department of Community Development (DCD) to install such a facility, off State Route 104, just across the street from the Parkers and 329 other families in the neighborhood.

The applicant, Bowman Propane Co. LLC of Tacoma, submitted an application in December 2004 for a satellite propane fueling facility within the Kingston Lumber Industrial Park. The proposed facility would include a 300-square-foot outbuilding, a 30,000-gallon propane tank and stormwater infiltration facilities.

The site will be unmanned but three employees and three trucks would be visiting it several times a day between 7 a.m. and noon, plus some evening hours, and up to three trucks would be parked on site overnight.

Parker and his neighbors, who live within 400 feet of the site, received the information in a notice of application from the county in early January. Such notices inform residents about proposed projects and allow them to respond to the county with any concerns.

Parker, on behalf of the neighborhood and Gamblewood Board of Directors, of which he is the vice president, contacted the county and explained concerns about the facility’s potential impact to the environment, the proximity of the tank to the homes, impacts to the critical aquifer recharge area and the dangers of transporting hazardous materials.

“Health and safety are our No. 1 concerns,” Parker said.

The Gamblewood Board of Directors met last Thursday with staff members from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s office, Kitsap County Health District and DCD to relay their concerns in person. On Monday, the board submitted a letter requesting that the county deny the project.

DCD manager for land use and environmental review Eric Baker said Thursday’s meeting helped lay out some of the issues the county will consider while reviewing the proposal.

“It helped provide a good framework of concerns that the neighborhood had and ones we need to address when reviewing compatibility,” he said.

The use of a propane tank is allowed within that area, Baker said, noting that it’s just a matter of making the facility compatible with the neighboring properties.

The application is undergoing a State Environmental Protection Act review and a hydrogeological report will be required of the applicant in regards to the critical areas.

The point of being proactive is to make sure everything is addressed before anything is approved, Parker said, adding that having the tank explode is one of the neighborhood’s biggest concerns.

“If this thing were to blow up, we’re talking about a 200-mile-hour wind that would blow out windows for quite some distance,” Parker said. “There are so many concerns — we have no hazardous materials team in North Kitsap to deal with a response like this.”

The fact that there are several industrial sites within the vicinity of the industrial park has Parker concerned, too, notably the Kingston Lumber and Kitsap Paintsmith facilities.

“You have a paint facility, propane tank and a lumber yard,” he said. “It seems like an accident waiting happen.”

There is also a proposal for a gas station to be located within the same area, Baker said. The proposed facility is a wholesale gasoline Cenex-type operation, located across the easement road from the proposed tank site. That project is also currently undergoing a review.

To send a letter of comment, mail it to Kitsap County Department of Community Development, Karen Ashcraft, 614 Division St. MS-36, Port Orchard, WA 98366, or for more information, call Jeff Smith at DCD at (360) 337-7022 or call the Gamblewood Community Club at (800) 642-8169.

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