Developers Break Ground on Gas Station in Estate Chocolate Hole As Senate Approves Island’s Third Gas Station on Centerline Road

Developers broke ground on a new gas station in Estate Chocolate Hole, above, while the developers of another gas station planned for Estate Adrian, similar to the design below, were granted a zoning variance.

Developers broke ground last month on the first of two new gas stations — and one 24-hour convenience store — coming to Love City.

Nedal Salem, principal of Estate Chocolate Hole Realty Inc., was not met with open arms by Love City residents in December 2010, when he shared plans for his development with the community.

Salem is building a three-story structure housing six apartments and a 24-hour convenience store and a four-pump gas station with two above-ground storage tanks holding 25,000 gallons each on his .473-acre property located adjacent to St. John Market in Estate Chocolate Hole.

At the time, residents voiced concerns about the safety of fuel trucks traversing Jacob’s Ladder and the need for a gas station less than a half-mile from E&C Service Station.

Despite objections, the land is zoned B-3, business scattered, which allows for the construction of a gas station among myriad other commercial uses and developers got the green light from Department of Planning and Natural Resources several months ago.

Since the land is located in the island’s Tier 2 development site, the project did not come under the scrutiny of the St. John Coastal Zone Management Commission.

Construction got underway last month with at least two pieces of heavy machinery visible on the site breaking rock and carving out the hillside on most days. Developers have their storm water, earth change and building permits, but still need future inspections before the fuel storage tanks are installed, explained Kent Bernier Jr, terminal facilities coordinator for DPNR.

“They will have to get additional permits after the building aspect of the project,” said Bernier. “There will be a set of inspections prior to each phase of the project — when they bring in the tanks, when they lay the pump lines and when they install the above ground storage tanks.”

“There will be a set of agencies, including Fire Department and other agencies, which will be conducting inspections of the project,” he said.

Bernier had no information on how long construction was expected to last before the Chocolate Hole gas station would open for business.

What will be the island’s third fueling area got a green light last month from members of the V.I. Senate, who voted to grant Guilderoy Sprauve’s zoning variance request in order to build a gas station and convenience store on Centerline Road in Estate Adrian.

Sprauve owns six acres of land in the area, but only plans to build on a 20,000-square-foot plot. The land is zoned R-1 (residential low density) but the variance allows Sprauve to go ahead with his plans to build a six-pump gas station and poured concrete convenience store.

Sprauve planned to have the station and store open from around 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The businesses would close around 5 p.m. on Friday and reopen sometime in the evening on Saturday.

The parcel is located on Centerline Road, adjacent to the old Love City Home and Garden Center, on land previously used by the Seventh Day Adventist Church for evangelistic meetings.

Now that the zoning variance has been approved, Sprauve is expected to secure funding for the project soon. While no signs of construction were visible on the site last week, Bernier expected activity at the newest of the two new St. John gas stations soon.

“There is a high possibility that St. John will get two new gas stations soon,” said Bernier. “Right now there are no more applications for more gas stations on the island except for these two.”