ODOT permit process holding up Clark County Marathon opening, owner says

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Construction is scheduled to resume on a Bethel Twp. Marathon gas station nearly a year after work on the more than $1 million project halted because the builder failed to apply for an Ohio Department of Transportation permit.

The permit relates to altering or creating an entrance zone and turning lane that connects to Ohio Route 235, an ODOT-maintained road. Both sides are close to resolving the issue.

The hope is that ODOT will approve the permit, and work will resume shortly. If all goes according to plan, the gas station, which will employ up to five people, will open in April, said owner Amarjit Takhar.

The sudden work stoppage puzzled local officials and many residents who were looking forward to having another gas station close by.

The business was originally supposed to open at the end of 2020, said Takhar, owner of Pap Oil Co. LLC., which owns more than 20 gas stations in the Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus areas.

The gas station is located on West National Road, south of New Carlisle, and is near the intersection of U.S. 40 and Ohio Route 235.

Discussions between Pap Oil officials and ODOT have centered around an entry point onto Ohio Route 235. As it stands, those traveling on the state route can only turn right in and out of the property.

The property already connects to Ohio Route 235. However, the gas station’s plans of altering or creating a new entrance zone onto that roadway has to be compliant with ODOT safety regulations.

Discussions and changes to plans for that entrance zone is part of the permit process with ODOT.

Takhar said that he was unaware he would need to create a new entrance zone to the property when construction started. He said that plans have been submitted and resubmitted to ODOT since then.

A permit is required for businesses to gain access to ODOT-maintained roadways or for the alterations on existing connection points, an agency spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, this business did not apply for a permit until the gas station was nearly complete. We are currently reviewing the submitted plans and working with the design engineer to bring them into compliance with ODOT standards,” said Tiffany Oliphant, a Public Information Officer for ODOT District 7, which includes Clark County.

Oliphant added that the permit process allows the ODOT team to review and make any changes to access points to those roadways to ensure the safety of those on the roadway as well as those entering and exiting the business.

She said that ODOT is not preventing the gas station from opening and is simply working with the business to make sure they are in compliance.

Takhar said that his contractor told him that ODOT needs some more details regarding the plans that would bring the business to compliance.

Once those additional details are submitted, the project can move forward, he said.

Construction started at 12040 West National Road in Bethel Twp., around June or July of 2020, said Takhar. Pap Oil Company purchased that property for $285,000 in February of that year, according to a copy of the property transfer on the Clark County Auditor’s website.

The gas station building itself is done, but has sat vacant for nearly a year. That had puzzled several local officials who were confused to what was preventing the business from opening.

Nancy Brown, a Bethel Twp. trustee, said that there has been a lot of curiosity around what is going on with that gas station. She said that local trustees do not have a lot of information regarding the project since zoning and permit requests are handled by Clark County government.

Ethan Harris, the Director of Community Development for Clark County, said that Pap Oil Company LLC had received all of their county building and zoning permits per date. He said that it was not a zoning or building issue that was holding up the development of the property on West National Road.

Harris said that he did not know what exactly delayed the gas station from opening.

Brown said she had heard that the project had been delayed due to either permit issues related to ODOT or issues regarding water well drilling related to that property.

Dina Pierce, a Media Coordinator with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said that the process of drilling a well on that property and the exchange of correspondence between her agency and the well driller has been routine.

Pierce said that her agency had received plans for that well in June of this year and that the agency sent comments back to the well driller in August and followed up with the driller again in November.

“It is our understanding that the well-drilling company is working with the owner on a response,” Pierce said in an email to this news organization.

Pierce added that there has been no delay in the well drilling process as far as her agency is concerned and that both entities have been following standard procedure.

Brown said that the gas station project has not been met with organized community opposition. She said that there are several gas stations in the area.

She said there was curiosity around the project such as why another gas station was being added to the area, what type of gas station it would be as well as when it would be finished and when it would open.

However, Brown said that she is confident that it will be an asset to the area.

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