Tempeans protest self-serve gas station

The Tribune

Tempe residents spoke out against a proposed wave of the future at Thursday night’s City Council meeting.

A plan, currently under consideration by the council, would permit Gary Williams Co. to build a gasoline station near the intersection of Guadalupe Road and McClintock Drive that would be totally self-service: It would be automated with no on-site employees.

That’s too close for comfort for some residents.

“It’s a traffic free-for-all out there,” said Catherine Fuller, a Tempe resident and homeowners association president who lives near that intersection. “(The gas station) would make an already dangerous traffic situation much worse.”

Fuller cited a 1997 study by The Tribune that named the intersection one of the five most dangerous in the city.

“I don’t think this situation has been ameliorated in any way since that article,” she said.

James Quinn, another area resident, urged the council to consider other options for the Fry’s shopping center, which is already home to the grocery store, a Taco Bell and a Yoshi’s Restaurant.

“For anyone who goes through there on a daily basis, it’s a disaster,” he said. “It’s just going to add to the disaster. Consider other businesses, but certainly not a high-car business.”

Dan Clayton, a real estate manager for Gary Williams, said he understands residents’ concerns about added traffic near their homes. But he defended the plan to build.

“We’ve taken the traditional gas station (and) used technology to break fueling (down) to its simplest form — getting back on the road,” he said.

Thursday night marked the first public hearing on the plan. Clayton and an architect for Gary Williams will meet with neighborhood representatives Monday, and the final public hearing before the City Council will be Feb. 25.

The company has 16 totally self-service gas facilities in nine states, 15 of which share properties with Wal-Mart stores.

Mesa has a Gary Williams station in the Wal-Mart shopping center near Main Street and Alma School Road.

The company has patented a machine that returns change for cash used at its unstaffed gas stations.