Valley residents opposed to a planned propane filling station at the old Coffee Spot got good news and bad news at a Thursday meeting of the North Valley Area Planning Commission.

The commission approved the filling station but also voted to force the developer, Trans Gas Propane, to significantly reduce the size of the tank. In the end, the opponents felt victorious.

This was welcome news to some residents who feared the station would be used for large industrial-type propane distribution. The original dimensions of the propane tank would have been 25 feet by 5 feet. The commissioned voted to reduce it to 5 feet by 5 feet. They viewed the smaller tank size as more compatible with the appearance of the surrounding neighborhood.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, the Sunland-Tujunga Alliance and other community members argued for the appeal, saying the propane station's intended use violates the community plan, known in bureaucratic language as the Foothill Corridor Specific Plan. It says, in part:

The Foothill Boulevard Corridor shall function as a vibrant commercial

area with multiple-family housing opportunities.

“The proposed use does not conform to the Specific Plan,” Krekorian said. “The purpose of the plan is to encourage economic activity that is consistent with the area.”

Krekorian railed against the propane station, saying there aren't enough barbecue grills in the Tujunga area for the 1,100 gallon tank, eliciting chuckles in the room.

Trans Gas Propane Inc, whose representatives were not present at the meeting, said in its application that the station would be used for retail purposes to sell propane appliances and patio equipment.

Staff for L.A. City Planning agreed with the company and told the commission the proposal does not violate the provisions of the community plan.

“It may not be an ideal retail use such as a cafe or restaurant, but it is still a retail site,” the planning department's Milena Zasadzien told the commission.

Abby Diamond of the Sunland-Tujunga Alliance said she hoped the smaller tank would discourage the company from going forward.

Diamond said the commission did the best they could under the circumstances, but said the city planning department was naive to believe that the propane station was not going to be used for industrial use.

Krekorian was pleased with the downsizing of the propane tank.

“This is a big win for Sunland-Tujunga,” he said in a statement.

LA Weekly