Bishop City Council: Of Gas Stations and Churches

With controversy barely concealed, the Bishop City Council voted to approve environmental documents on a new gas station and convenience store in the Kmart area plus an expansion of the Neighborhood Church.

First, the Vons gas station. The traffic circulation in the area already requires major maneuvers to there from here with no turns this way and that and heavy traffic in and out of Vons to Main St.

Carl Hoy, environmental consultant for Vons said they would put up signs to direct traffic to Wye Rd. Observers pointed to the already heavy traffic on the street and the likelihood of more problems.

Kenny Lloyd asked about groundwater levels and underground fuel tanks. Mr. Hoy said they would handle floating the tanks in high groundwater. Lloyd objected to filling of fuel tanks right in front of the store.

With little other fanfare, the Council voted unanimously to okay the environmental document on the project which now goes to the City Planning Commission.

Enter religion and a church named to match its location – Neighborhood Church, which has long existed in a residential neighborhood in east Bishop, right next door to Mayor Frank Crom.

Crom and Councilman Bruce Dishion excused themselves from the discussion. They said they owned property interests in the area. The Church wants to build an 11,000 square foot gym and fellowship hall.

Rueben Mejia, consultant for the City, supported a mitigated negative declaration. He said there are ways to mitigate potential aesthetic, noise and traffic problems, but will those ways satisfy critics?

Administrator Rick Pucci read a letter from Mayor Crom’s wife, Virginia. He did not read the other public letters into the record. Mrs. Crom claims the whole project doesn’t meet codes. Mrs. Crom’s objections run high. She has been seen and heard screaming at Church representatives cleaning the dirt parking lot across from the church and the Crom house.

Other neighbors didn’t scream, but did complain about the height of the building and potential noise. Penny McCoy talked about the valuable spiritual and social assistance the Church has provided for her and her family.

Pastor Ben Peavy revealed several programs that the Church supports to help the City’s young people and families.

Attorney Kenney Scruggs, representing the Church said that the new project would address visual concerns and that parking had been found adequate.

The three Councilmembers on this issue voted yes on the environmental document and now, on to the Planning Commission.

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