Gas station owners sound off on ice ordinance, council to take a second look

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published February 20, 2019

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SOUTHFIELD — A handful of gas station owners joined forces at a recent City Council meeting to share their opinions on a new ordinance regarding outdoor ice machines. 

The debate began at the Nov. 26, 2018, meeting, when Southfield City Planner Terry Croad told the council that his office had been reviewing a text amendment to Section 5.169 of the city’s zoning ordinance, which pertains to merchandise outside of stores. 

Croad said the ordinance states that there shall be no outside storage or display of any kind, except for the display of new merchandise related to the “primary use of a gasoline station.” 

The issue came before the council’s Legislative Committee twice, and it was also discussed in a study session before coming to the council that November, Croad said at the meeting. 

In a previous report, Croad said that 45 percent of the gas stations in the city were noncompliant with the original ordinance. 

Croad said in a previous report that city officials were also concerned with how the ice chests could block accessible pathways. 

At that Nov. 26 meeting, the council approved the text amendment regarding the ice chests 6-1. Councilman Donald Fracassi voted against the amendment. Fracassi said at the meeting that he believes the ordinance will impede gas station sales and will be a hindrance to small-business owners. Several gas station owners took their three minutes at the podium during the communications portion of the Feb. 11 meeting. 

George Denha, the owner of the BP gas station at 29150 Northwestern Highway, said he doesn’t  see a reason for the ordinance, and he believes ice chests are a necessity. 

“We’d like you guys to compromise with us and leave us in business, because we are here to help you and you help us. So we need your help here to leave our boxes outside,” Denha said. “We are a small store. We try to make a living at that location. We don’t have much room.” 

Samir Alhasan, the owner of the Sunoco gas station at 25220 W. Eight Mile Road, said his customers depend on the ice he provides. 

“My place is small, and I can’t put it inside. My customers are low income, and they don’t have ice makers in their apartments because they are tenants. So they have to buy it from somewhere,” Alhasan said. 

Fracassi once again expressed his frustrations with the ordinance. 

“I don’t hear anybody wanting to look at this and review this again. It’s going to have to take somebody who voted against it to bring it back up,” he said. 

Council President Lloyd Crews said the council’s Legislative Committee will be taking a second look at the ordinance, and council members will discuss it further at their next regularly scheduled meeting. 

“I would like to echo the sentiments of Mr. Fracassi. I think the council knows I didn’t favor an ordinance banning ice chests, as long as they didn’t take up a parking space and as long as they didn’t block a sidewalk or handicapped access to the gas station,” Mayor Ken Siver said at the meeting. “I also would like to see this matter reviewed, and perhaps we can come to some solution.” 

A Committee of the Whole meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. and a council meeting for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at Southfield City Hall, 26000 Evergreen Road. 

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