Propane sales in residential area halted
I live in Maili and am writing for six other neighbors. There is a company selling propane from a nearby home. We can see three full-size fuel trucks, numerous tanks and customers bringing their tanks to fill up. Next to this home is a junkyard with 100 to 200 cars. If one of those small tanks would explode, all of this junk would go flying and wipe out a few blocks. How can a company run a propane business in a residential area?
Answer: The city ordered last week that the owner "stop the illegal activity immediately and remove the propane storage tanks and dispensers."
This was after an inspector from the city Department of Planning and Permitting's Housing Code Section confirmed the activities at 87-275 Maipalaoa Road did not qualify as "a home occupation" on residential-zoned property, said Art Challacombe, manager of customer services for the department.
According to the inspector, trucks equipped with propane storage tanks were driven to a refinery to pick up propane, then delivered to customers. The empty trucks returned to the property at the end of the day. The inspector also saw 11 propane storage tanks and two fuel dispensers. One tank was found to contain fuel, which was sold to customers who came to the property.
Property owner Robert Sullivan, who operates Aloha LP Gas Inc., told us yesterday that he complied with the order over the weekend but intends to appeal or seek a zoning variance. He said his business did not pose a threat: "As far as being explosive or a danger, it is not. Anything properly controlled and properly stored is not a danger."
The city had given him an initial fine of $1,000, and threatened a $500-a-day fine beginning today if the cited activity continued.
Normally, initial fines for this type of violation start at $50, followed by daily fines of $50 a day for a first-time offense, Challacombe said. The fact that Sullivan had been cited for a similar violation 10 years ago was a factor, but "more importantly, the amount of the fines coincide with a potentially dangerous and life-threatening situation."
The problem also "was corrected" after the first violation, he said.
Sullivan said he started his company in 1983 and bought the 47,000-square-foot property in 1984.
He said he sold propane from a "little 500-gallon" tank to customers bringing small containers for gas grills and the like. But, "the selling of propane ... is not my main business," he said. "It's more a community service ... not a moneymaker."
His main business, involving himself and two employees, was in leasing out empty storage tanks to clients, mainly the military. He was able to find industrial-zoned property to store the tanks and continue that part of his operations.
Sullivan said the basis of his planned challenge is that a commercial propane distribution center is allowed to operate "not even 2 1/2 blocks away."
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