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January 29, 2014

Empire propane proposal rejected

TRAVERSE CITY — The gateway to Empire Township will remain propane-free.

The township’s planning commission voted 4-0 to reject a proposal for a propane storage tank and store on M-72.

“Primarily, it didn’t meet the criteria established in our ordinance,” commission Chair Dick Figura said. “One critical factor was the fact that our fire department wouldn’t be able to deal with a fire if there was one.”

Matt Stevens, the owner of Buckley-based Stevens Propane, hoped to put a store and 30,000 gallon propane tank on a 4.5-acre parcel in order to better serve customers in the area.

About 50 members of the public were at the Monday night hearing and opposed the proposal, Figura and Stevens said.

“I think we could’ve worked through the zoning ordinances as they existed, but public sentiment was too much disapproval,” Stevens said. “There’s not much we can do or say about it. It’s really small government at work.”

Figura said ordinances, not public opinion, motivated the commission’s rejection.

Stevens said his company will seek a different location for the project, possibly in Benzie County.

“We did a pretty good search before we found that spot,” Stevens said. “With that being pretty much out, now we’ll have to start over again and see what we can find.”

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