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Canopy question halts gas station construction

Homeowners want the new gas station in Carrollwood Village to have a wooden canopy over its gas pumps. But the owner of the gas station wants a steel canopy that looks like wood.

Somehow they'll have to reach a compromise where the residents are happy with the way it looks and the owner can hold down the costs of building a Marathon Gas station at 4550 W Village Dr.

"The homeowner association must be willing to cooperate with us," said Hamid Ghannad, vice president of Golf Oil Co., which sells the fuel wholesale to Marathon Gas. "If it costs too much, then it's not worth it to us and we'll walk away."

Now that Golf Oil has provided the homeowners with an artist's rendering of the project, the two sides can begin negotiating.

Carrollwood Village board members will meet Tuesday to review the plan. They'll either accept it or make recommendations that Golf Oil may or may not accept. Ghannad said he will not try to finish the project without residents' approval.

"We need the support from the neighbors, because they are our customer base," Ghannad said, referring to the 4,000 homes here.

Carrollwood Village property manager Dan Ruskiewicz said he has seen the sketch and would make no comment until after board members have had a chance to discuss it.

"We're not on Gunn Highway or Dale Mabry," said Ruskiewicz, who maintains that a wooden canopy would blend much better with homes in the neighborhood.

Golf Oil has a contract to buy the gas station from its current owner, Steve Maddox of Tennessee. That sale is contingent on getting the Carrollwood Village homeowners to approve the project, Ghannad said. For the past year, he said, Golf Oil has paid rent of $3,500 a month to Maddox.

The gas station in the Village Corners shopping center has been vacant since it burned two years ago in a fire, the cause of which was never determined. When Golf Oil decided to reopen the gas station, the company applied for a permit that would allow for a lighted canopy displaying the Marathon Gas company name.

Golf Oil didn't know at the time that the previous gas station had a wooden roof over its gas pumps because of a 20-year-old zoning rule that bars high-intensity commercial signs at that location.

County building code inspectors issued a stop-work order on the project until Golf Oil can show its gas pump canopy will comply with zoning restrictions.

Golf Oil manager Ken Dufault said the company will invest more than $500,000 in this project and wants to work with the homeowners, but some aspects are non-negotiable.

The steel canopy is safer than a wooden canopy in stormy weather, he said, adding that the previous wooden canopy was too low to accommodate sport utility vehicles.

He said Marathon Gas will require a lighted canopy, but there will be no company name on the canopy and its colors will match the existing building in the shopping center.

"This won't be a (high volume) facility," Dufault said. "But between the gas and the convenience store, we're taking a half-million-dollar gamble. That's why it's so important we work in harmony with the neighbors."

_ Tim Grant can be reached at 269-5311 or at grantsptimes.com

Carrollwood Village board members will meet Tuesday to review the plan for this Golf Oil Co. gas station. The county issued a stop-work order on the project until Golf Oil can show its gas pump canopy, which it started to build with steel, will comply with zoning restrictions.

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