CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Cranston City Council is backing off a controversial proposal for a new Cumberland Farms after Eyewitness News asked members to respond to neighbors’ concerns.
Residents of the city’s Elmwood section sounded the alarm over a plan to build the new gas station at the corner of Park and Warwick Avenues. On Thursday, Council President Michael Farina announced a majority of the council was withdrawing support for the proposal.
Lynne Michaelson’s backyard abuts that property. She and her neighbors say they are worried about the health and environmental impacts of the gas tanks being buried just yards from their homes.
“Our backyard will be 20 feet from the gas pumps,” Michaelson said in an interview hours before the council’s decision.
Emily Olson said her children’s pediatrician warned her about having the gas station too close to her home.
“Her initial reaction was for the health of our three children,” Olson said. “If the gas station goes in, we’ll have to leave.”
The concerns are pushing residents to consider packing their bags. But, moving may not be that easy.
“I thought, ‘Ok, well if this gets approved, we’ll have to move,'” Michaelson said. “Then I learn that my home will no longer be eligible for any kind of HUD insurance. So any kind of first-time homebuyers loans cannot be insured by HUD because they’re within 300 feet of underground storage tanks of gasoline.”
This realization left Michaelson and dozens of neighbors feeling stuck.
“I’m faced with this problem,” Michaelson said. “I can’t live here, but how am I going to sell this house?”
The same proposal was rejected in 2015, and now history is repeating itself.
“After listening to the testimony of residents and hearing their concerns, we have decided to withdraw support for the zone change,” Council President Michael Farina said in a statement issued to Eyewitness News Thursday afternoon. “This decision was not made lightly and we still hope the site will be developed in the future.”
“This was a difficult decision,” said Ordinance Committee Chairman Christopher Paplauskas said in a statement. “I support development but the zone change should not move forward at this time.”
The proposal was set to go before the Oridnance Committee on Monday night.
Emails to representatives for Cumberland Farms were not immediately returned.