Fairborn council to decide fate of proposed CNG station

Fairborn City Council is expected to decide tonight the fate of a public compressed natural gas fueling station that Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio is proposing to build.

Vectren officials said if the project is not approved by City Council, the company will look outside the city to build what would be the Miami Valley’s first public CNG fueling station. The project has already been delayed a month in order to answer concerns raised by citizens.

Vectren operates a CNG station at its Fairborn site, 1135 E. Dayton-Yellow Springs Rd., to serve its own six-vehicle fleet, but the company wants to expand the station and open it to the public. It would be only the 13th public CNG station in the state, putting “Fairborn on the map,” according to Colleen Ryan, president of Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio.

Residents suggested that the facility be built off Interstate 675 at either the Ohio 444 or Ohio 235 interchange. Channingway Apartments are directly to the north — less than 500 feet from the proposed site — and Kroger and other commercial development are to the west and southwest. A Speedway is to the southeast.

Ryan said it would cost Vectren roughly $1.5 million to construct a new CNG facility at another location. In a memo to city council dated Feb. 12, Ryan said that there is “not another site in Fairborn that is as economically attractive, given the existing infrastructure and Vectren-owned property at this location.”

Ryan said if “Vectren does not receive approval to expand at this site, we will look elsewhere in our service territory.” Vectren has had previous discussions with other cities that have shown interest, even to the point of them possibly helping finance the project, the memo said.

Of Vectren’s six operational centers in southwest Ohio, the Fairborn site is the only one that has a CNG station.

“We want to be good neighbors,” Ryan said. “But if the city has concerns and they still don’t want it there, we won’t want to be there. We want to go where this is appreciated because ultimately this is a really good thing.”

City staff and the planning board previously recommended approval of the project, determining that Vectren’s request is consistent with all existing and surrounding land uses and zoning districts. That recommendation hasn’t changed, city officials said.

“It’d be great to have the first public CNG fueling station in the Dayton region here in Fairborn,” City Manager Deborah McDonnell said. “It’d certainly be a competitive advantage because of the easy access point. This is a logical spot for it. It would be unfair to ask Vectren to buy another piece of land to put this on. It’s just one pump. It’s not to create a retail market.”

Ryan said the first time around Vectren “did not do a very good job articulating” the safety measures and advantages of having a public CNG fueling station in Fairborn. Ryan and city officials are scheduled to make presentations tonight.

The proposed station includes a new 24-by-24 foot canopy with an overall height of 18 feet, 6 inches and a vertical clearance of 14 feet, 6 inches; a new compressor; three storage spheres; a single dispenser with two nozzles; and credit card reader. The station could be open to the public as early as the summer, barring any unforeseen delays or regulatory issues, Ryan previously said.

The unmanned CNG station — accessed from Trebein Road — will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to anyone who has a CNG vehicle and an eligible credit card. On-site surveillance cameras will be monitored at Vectren’s headquarters in Evansville, Ind.

The proposed facility would be able to accommodate no more than 19 vehicles per 24-hour period. The type of vehicles it would serve include service trucks, trash-sized trucks and 53-foot semi trailers. A “truck stop” is a “gross mischaracterization of what is being proposed,” the memo said.

“Just because of the limited capability the station is going to have, I’d venture to say the neighbors will not even be aware of the increase of traffic,” Ryan said. “It’s not a Pilot or Flying J.”

Council was scheduled to vote on it Feb. 4, but Vectren requested more time to research the concerns that were brought up at the Jan. 22 meeting. Those concerns included safety, traffic flow, location of the proposed site and if a CNG fueling station is permitted for that land use according to city zoning regulations.

Dave Lower, a former Fairborn council member who lives on Yellow Rose Court, said the residents in that area “like the idea of a CNG station. They just don’t like the location.”

“I think all the technical and safety issues will be satisfied as far as council is concerned, and it will pass,” Lower said.

At the Feb. 4 meeting, Councilman Robert Wood listed eight concerns, among them that no new permanent jobs will be created, traffic flow could be disrupted and safety. He said his opinion has not changed after reviewing the additional documents submitted by Vectren and city staff.

“It’s a good project, but the proposed location is a bad one and I’m quite sure that a more appropriate location could be found inside our city,” Wood said.

The average daily traffic count at the Dayton-Yellow Springs/Trebein intersection is 4,000 vehicles. Trebein is maintained by Greene County. Any road improvements as a result of the proposed project would need to be funded by Vectren, city and county officials said.

The cost of the expansion for Vectren will be about $900,000. Fairborn would receive an additional $3,559 in property tax and Greene County $3,750.

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