City planners OK gas station changes

April 9, 2019

Changes made by the Fort Wayne City Council to the city’s zoning ordinance as it applies to new gas stations were approved Monday by the Plan Commission. 

The new version of the city’s ordinance limits where new gas stations can be built in several zoning districts: neighborhood center, downtown edge and limited commercial. Specifically, new gas stations would not be able to apply for a special use in those districts if located adjacent to or across the street from a residential area. 

“It (also) allows some flexibility to replace the canopy, add pumps, which goes beyond the non-conforming provisions for other buildings and structures,” said Kim Bowman, director of the Allen County Department of Planning Services. 

In cases where a gas station wanted to locate next to a residential area, the developers would need to have the property rezoned to general commercial use, a process which requires City Council oversight. 

Monday’s vote, in which Commissioner Judi Wire was the sole no vote, marked the end of a monthslong negotiation between city officials and gas station owners over the amended ordinance. 

The process began in November, when the City Council passed a resolution directing the Plan Commission to remove the special use provisions for gas stations. 

In January, the Plan Commission deferred action for a month, following sharp opposition from gas station owners to the original proposal championed by City Councilman Glynn Hines, D-6th. That proposal, before it was amended to its current version, would have permitted new gas stations only in areas previously zoned for commercial use.

Under the original plan, special uses would not have been allowed for gas stations trying to locate in any of the aforementioned zoning districts, as well as limited and general industrial districts. 

In March, the process was briefly put on hold again as City Council members returned to the negotiating table to speak with gas station owners. The final version of the amendment was approved by the City Council on March 26, sending it back to the Plan Commission for review. 

The amended ordinance will now go to Mayor Tom Henry’s desk for signature.