Tuesday, June 11, 2019

ACCWA supports the Albany County Commissioners’ proposed temporary moratorium on further development in the aquifer protection zone.

However, ACCWA believes that the Albany County Zoning Resolution now in place gives the county the authority to address the threat presented by re-starting operations at the gas station formerly known as Tumbleweed Express in the aquifer protection zone.

Now that the Albany County and Prosecuting Attorney is withdrawing the complaint for injunction filed by the county to stop activity at the Tumbleweed site, ACCWA believes the county should consider other remedies.

Tumbleweed’s attorneys have aggressively pursued its interests, and have asserted that the county has no authority over Tumbleweed’s activities because the gas station is “grandfathered” – that is, it existed before the aquifer protection zone was designated, and therefore has the right to continue.

This is true to a point, and in fact Tumbleweed’s operations did continue for about five years after the aquifer protection zone was created. But a business is defined by many aspects, and the changes to the previous Tumbleweed Express business have yet to be explored.

Everyone acknowledges that the fuel dispensing pumps at Tumbleweed have not been licensed as required by state law since 2009. Consequently, any fuel sales after that date were illegal. Although apparently some other licenses were kept current, it seems obvious that the essence of a gas station is to sell gas.

Surely the county does not wish to send the message that it can be “barreled over” as was described in today’s special county commission meeting, especially for a use that was continued illegally and is now flatly prohibited in the aquifer protection zone because it is an obvious threat to public health.

ACCWA calls upon the county commissioners to reinstate action to prevent Tumbleweed Express from resuming operation and creating a substantial hazard to our drinking water supply from the Casper Aquifer.

An extensive library of documents pertaining to protection of the Casper Aquifer can be found on ACCWA’s website at albanycountycleanwateradvocates.org.

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