Historic Fresno gas station attracts more controversy

August 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The owner of Van Ness Auto in Fresno wants to expand his business. But it's located in the middle of an historic Fresno neighborhood.

It was a Standard Oil gas station when it opened in 1926. The antique pumps no longer deliver gas. But over the years Van Ness Auto has turned into a popular repair shop doing more than just fixing flats and installing batteries.

Since it's in a residentially zoned area it had to get special permission from the city council, and in past years hundreds of owner Jim Medina's fans have packed city council and planning commission meetings to show their support to let him do more and more. Now he wants to do even more.

He told Action News, "I want to be able to extend my hours a small fraction because I want to take care of business and I want to be able to work in peace and I want to be able to take care of my customers as they come in if they are late, whatever has to be done after hours."

Some neighbors say most of the folks who support this garage don't have to live right next door to it. They are concerned about his plans to expand here and to stay open until ten at night.

City Council member Blong Xiong wants to give them a chance to speak out.

"Based on my conversation with the applicant, with the constituents and also staff that I don't think there was a significant effort making sure we have appropriate community participation especially those that are right next to the business."

The City Council was scheduled to consider Medina's request to give him longer hours, become a full service garage and let tow trucks come and go anytime, but Xiong's request for a community meeting delayed council action until October 24th. The date for the community meeting has not been set.

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