Proposed gas station in Camas draws opposition

City considers complex with eight gas pumps, car wash, store near Union HS

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Several Camas residents came before the Camas City Council last week to voice their opposition to a proposal that would build a gas station, convenience store and drive-through car wash off Northeast 13th Street near Northwest Friberg-Strunk Street in Camas.

The 0.97-acre site, which currently contains a single-family home and two outbuildings, is located adjacent to Camas Meadows Golf Club and less than a mile from Union High School and the Harmony Sports Complex.

The applicant, Taz Khan, of Camas, has proposed demolishing the existing structures to make way for the construction of a 4,100-square-foot convenience store with eight gas pumps, a drive-through car wash and 20 parking spaces.

According to documents filed with the city of Camas, the new development is expected to employ two people and generate 2,281 new vehicle trips per day, including 60 new trips during the morning rush hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 81 new trips during the evening commute between 4 and 6 p.m.

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, during the Camas City Council’s regular meeting, eight Camas residents spoke against the proposed development, saying they were concerned the gas station would negatively impact local traffic, the environment and the health and safety of those living, playing or going to school near the site.

“These are real concerns,” Russell Wegner said of the opponents’ environmental, traffic and safety worries. “I feel this is a mistake to proceed in this location.”

Wegner’s daughter, Tamra Wegner, said she was concerned the gas station would pollute the air and groundwater.

“(The station would release) 24,000 liters of vapors each month,” she said. “Vapors travel approximately 600 feet in all directions, depending on the winds. And diesel (fuel) can put out double that amount. We know it rains here — a lot. Where are all of those compounds going to? … With all of our rain, how many miles can the runoff go?”

As a teenager who frequently walks in the area, Tamra Wegner said she also was concerned the proposed gas station complex would impact the “health of kids walking to and from school.”

“We already have four gas stations in that area,” Tamra Wegner said. “In other states, new gas stations are being banned or banned from adding new gas pumps. We want to reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions right now.”

She urged Council members to consider how important environmental issues are to Camas’ younger generations.

“This issue will be affecting my generation more than any of yours,” she told the Council members. “This is my future. And the big question here is — is this the kind of future we really want?”

Other speakers, including Arianna Nosrati, a 20-year-old Camas native who is in their senior year at University of Washington-Vancouver, agreed.

Nosrati told Council members they had spent the past three months participating in research at the university’s animal laboratory, studying zebrafish.

“They live in freshwater and resemble a lot of the amphibians in our freshwater across Camas,” Nosrati said, adding that the research focused on how the zebrafish responded to acidic environments, such as those caused by pollution from chemicals found in gasoline and diesel fuels.

“When they experience acidic changes, there are deformities … in frogs, small amphibians and all the diverse creatures we have in our wetlands,” Nosrati said. “Years down the road, this results in an inability to grow and thrive. And then there is no prey for the animals that feed on them — for the blue herons, red-tailed hawks and bald eagles that are here. I would hate to see something like an acidified area (harm) these beautiful creatures.”

Several others who spoke to the Council last week — including Ruth and William Small, a couple who live close to the proposed gas station complex — said they were concerned about the business’ future traffic impacts.

“My main concern is the traffic,” Ruth Small said. “It’s just terrible right now. … That intersection is so busy now. I can’t understand why we would allow in-out traffic off that intersection with people coming and going from a gas station.”

William Small agreed, and added that the area is also set to accommodate a large warehouse that will likely add semi truck traffic to the neighborhood.

“They’re building a warehouse on the southeast corner (of the intersection closest to the proposed gas station). A huge warehouse. There will be a lot of trucks there,” he said. “And you’ve got the high school (less than one mile away). I just don’t think we need a gas station in that vicinity.”

Another speaker, Mike Ogden, said he also lives in the Morning Meadows neighborhood located close to the proposed gas station site, and is the parent of four children — two of whom graduated from Union High School, one who attends the high school now and another who will go to Union High next year.

Traffic in the area has “become shockingly dangerous,” Ogden told Camas officials. “When I saw this proposal … feet from that intersection, combined with young drivers? It’s going to be a nightmare.”

Ogden also said he was concerned about possible environmental impacts from the gas station.

“I’m opposed to this and hope the City Council will take (these concerns) into account,” Ogden said.

Two days after the Council meeting, the city of Camas released the results of its State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist, which found the project is unlikely to have any significant adverse environmental impacts.

The SEPA documents provided by the City note that “long-term emissions will be produced by automobile traffic and normal commercial/retail uses, as well as possible vapor from the gas tanks.”

The documents also state that “stage 2 vapor recovery systems will be included in the gas storage tanks and delivery systems.”

The SEPA checklist also states that approximately 80% of the site will be covered with impervious surfaces and that an Oregon white oak tree — considered a critical habitat for a variety of wildlife — will “be removed and mitigated at a 6-to-1 ratio.”

The SEPA documents note that the business would take certain measures to reduce or control environmental health hazards, including installing “emergency shut-off switches … inside the convenience store and outside at the gas pumps;” monitoring underground tanks for leaks; and having “overfill protection, gravity return of undispensed product, breakaway valves and stage 2 vapor recovery systems … included in the storage tanks and delivery systems.”

This is not the first time Camas residents have opposed a gas station project in recent years. In August 2022, a proposal to build a slightly larger gas station-convenience store complex at a busy Camas intersection — across the street from the Prune Hill Sports Park and about 300 feet from Prune Hill Elementary School — left local families fuming about possible environmental, health, traffic and safety issues. Dozens of opponents spoke out about that particular gas station, which required a conditional-use permit to operate. In the end, Camas Hearings Examiner Joe Turner approved the conditional-use permit, saying he did not have jurisdiction to reconsider the City’s SEPA determination of non-significance regarding that gas station’s environmental impacts, and that traffic concerns, though “unfortunate and frightening,” were “not evidence that roads in the area are inherently unsafe.”

The City will take comments on its SEPA “determination of non-significance” related to the 13th Street gas station proposal through Thursday, March 7. Comments on the proposal can be emailed to or mailed to City of Camas SEPA Official, Community Development Department, 616 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas, WA 98607.

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited to reflect the correct spelling of Russell and Tamra Wegner’s names.