Propane Tank and Delivery Service Planned for Residential Area Comments need to be submitted by June 21

— by Margie Doyle, updated June 17 at 4:30 p.m. —

30,000-gallon diesel/gasoline fuel tank at Orcas Public Works site on Mount Baker Road

County officials are considering the application for InterIsland Propane to place a 30,000-gallon propane tank and distribution center on a lot just west of the airport, adjacent to residential homes on Seaview Street and within 300 feet of Opal Commons Community Garden and the Opal Commons neighborhood.

Proposed development notices were sent to nearby homeowners in late May, and comments are due to  County  Planner Julie Thompson at by Wednesday, June 21. A hearing is scheduled before the Hearing Examiner on July 13.

The project application (PCUP00-17-0018) is for lot 27115801127 at 27 Aeroview Lane, at the corner of Seaview Street and Aeroview Lane. Don Galt, co-owner of InterIsland Propane, wrote in its application to the county for the conditional use permit that, in addition to the storage tank, the project includes a 12×80 concrete slab, consumer-sized propane tanks, and parking for trucks used to transport propane and customer tanks within an enclosed 120x120ft fence. Underground electric power and a security light will also be provided to the area.

Proposed site for propane storage and distribution facility

The lot is zoned Service/Light Industrial and propane storage is an allowable use within that zoning. The Hearing Examiner can decide that the permit be allowed, provided certain conditions are met if such conditions are deemed reasonable by the Hearing Examiner.

Mitigation measures that may be considered by the Hearing Examiner include safety, aesthetic and traffic concerns. Questions remain about neighborhood safety in the event of a leak or explosion, capacity of response, and availability of water to extinguish a fire, particularly in light of two incidents of fuel leaks at a now-defunct storage facility further north on Seaview Street last year. .

“Propane is a flammable and explosive fuel” Galt writes, and “Fire Department and emergency vehicles would be needed to put out a fire and to administer aid to people injured.” However, the environmental checklist submitted to the county state that the propane storage and distribution center would not “result in an increased need for public services (for example: fire protection…)”

Traffic concerns are also raised as Aeroview Lane is a narrow approach to the west airport gate, and plans are for delivery trucks to operate between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Their size, the frequency of their approach to and departure from the lot into a rural residential neighborhood are questioned. The truck delivery route is not specified on the application.

Aesthetic environmental and noise concerns also surface as the proposed siting for the tank would be screened on the north and west sides by existing growth, but there is no screening planned in the application for the south lot line which faces Aeroview Lane. Galt wrote in his SEPA applications, ” “If there are any areas that required more screening by the county we will be planting more trees and buses along the north and west lot lines. However, we don’t anticipate having to add any more vegetation as there is already a significant natural buffer.”

The application further states that no views in the immediate vicinity would be altered and that there are no measures proposed to reduce or control aesthetic impacts.

Some mitigation measures could be:

  • installing a natural berm or retaining wall around the tank site, which would divert heat from getting to the tank in the event of airplane fuel igniting in the airport hangars to the east of the site;
  • limiting the hours of the trucks making deliveries through the neighborhood;
  • planting additional screening vegetation to the south and to the east;
  • planning truck access and egress to limit noise, traffic and disruption to the rural residential neighborhood.

County Fire Marshall RJ Meyers declined to comment on the conditional use permit application beyond saying, “We are looking at options for that community.”

Once the storage and distribution center is developed, the propane in storage will be delivered to the island by barge, transported to the site by truck and then delivered to InterIsland customers by truck. Galt estimates a barge delivery every two weeks during the peak winter season; with delivery truck operated Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In related news, just last week, the county installed a 30,000-gallon tank at its Public Works installation off Mount Baker Road near Seaview Street. This tank holds both diesel/gasoline, which are to be used in the event of an emergency to fuel generators and to supply fuel for emergency response vehicles.

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Propane Tank and Delivery Service Planned for Residential Area Comments need to be submitted by June 21 — 7 Comments

  1. The idea, once again for high hazard bulk fuel directly adjacent the highest density residential population in the area is simply absurd!
    What I don’t understand is this, Land Use Planning exists to serve to protect citizens from dangers of examples such as these. If planning can’t serve the citizens in this appropriate way “why do we waste the money and effort” This neighborhood houses a large group of young family’s and small children. The area also is home most frequently to families of limited incomes. Is this how we show support for those families, drop a potential bomb in their neighborhood, this is a fine picture. Just because the lot is zoned for light industrial does not speak to the appropriateness of installing high hazard fuel. This has already been shown to be incompatible in the recent past.

  2. Then we have the question of access? Seaview street is also not at all sufficiently improved but for residential access. Recently we have seen a great deal of Heavy equipment and trailers using Seaview to access Port of Orcas Properties near the end of Sea View. I and others have had concerns the road is not and industrial access throughway, but a no outlet residential street where numerous neighborhood children can be found playing on tricycles and wagons in front of their homes. The street is Fairly narrow and only suited for the purpose of local non industrial access. We have waited for some years for the recent industry to properly fence and screen those occupancies that do occupy the new light industrial community.
    Bulk Fuel has no place on this street, and the existing zoning does not grant any exception to the current neighborhood conditions

  3. That corner is also super tight as is, and it is already dangerous without the industrial-sized trucks coming and going all the time. I live down Seaview, and I know MANY children who play on that street, and also people who walk their dogs down that road (myself included). I don’t see this as a good use of that space, and I hope it doesn’t go through.

  4. After I submitted a letter of concern to Julie Thompson, SJC Permitting Dept regarding Donny Galt’s application for a conditional use permit to install a 30,000 gal propane tank in our Seaview Street neighborhood, I received a reply from Donny himself. He asked if it was OK to call or visit with me to hear my concerns in person – and to get more insight into the past incidents that triggered evacuation.

    I agreed to meet, but steered him to Fire Chief Scott Williams for a discussion of the incidents involving OIFD response. Since a number of my neighbors share my concerns a meeting was arranged, and today 5 of us spent an hour with Donny; first at my house at Opal Commons and then at his proposed building site.

    Donny listened well and asked good questions. He laid out his vision, plans and preparations clearly, detailing the safety equipment already standard at their Friday Harbor operation. Although I would still prefer not to see any increase in heavy truck traffic on Seaview, I listened to the steps Donny has taken in Friday Harbor to lessen the risks to pedestrians and could see that he is approaching this as a concerned parent as well as a committed community member.

    By the end of our meeting my impression was that I wanted more of you with questions and concerns to meet him and to have the same opportunity to address him directly. To this end I have booked the meeting room at the Eastsound Fire Hall for an informational meeting with Donny Galt on Wednesday, July 5th at 7:30pm. I encourage everyone interested to attend.

  5. Hello all, this is Donny Galt from Inter Island Propane in Friday Harbor. I just wanted you to know that I have personally read every one of your concerns about the new propane facility and hear you loud and clear. I reached out to some of the neighbors last week with an informal meeting and was able to hear their concerns first hand. I invite you to come meet me in person at the Eastsound Fire Hall this Wednesday the 5th of July at 7:30pm. Again, for those of you that might not know me, I have been an islander for over 35 years, grew up here, raised a family here and would never in any way want any bad feelings between my island friends and neighbors. If you cannot attend, feel free to call me 360.317.5854 or email me with any questions you may have.

    Thank you and Happy 4th of July!

    Donny Galt
    Co-Owner, Inter Island Propane LLC
    ” Your LOCAL source for Propane Sales and Service”

  6. After having written a letter of concern and then attending a meeting with a few Seaview St. neighbors and Donny Galt, I am now feeling much more confident in having this propane business near my home. Ideally, Seaview St. would be solely a residential area but there is already various aircraft related structures and other businesses and it IS currently zoned for residential AND some industries. I feel reassured after listening to Donny speak to our concerns for safety and ability for children at play, minimizing truck noise and the safety protocols for the propane storage tank and delivery transfers. I feel his business will be a boon for us propane users and with ten plus safety protocols and auto shut off technology, automatic(not manual) geared trucks, limited delivery timing, and old style, super thick walled tank , education of home owners’ to maintain their end of things, I feel this business is high integrity. The previous propane up Seaview St. ,that was kept on a truck and thus not subject to essential safety protocols and licensing was a night and day difference to this proposal.