What's Up with That? Tanks overdue for removal from Highway 99 eyesore

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

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There is an abandoned gas station at the corner of Northeast 68th Street and Highway 99. This property has been become graffiti-strewn and overgrown in weeds, with no maintenance for over a year. I thought that unused gas stations had to have the underground tanks removed. What’s up with this property?

—Claude Blair, Salmon Creek

You’re absolutely right, Claude, that the site has risen high on the list of spectacular eyesores on Highway 99. And that’s one competitive list!

“You can’t miss it,” agreed Kevin Pridemore, Clark County’s code enforcement coordinator. “Highway 99 has got some bad properties, but that’s the worst.”

Pridemore said he’s been taking complaints about the old gas station and car wash at 6821 N.E. Highway 99, but determined that it’s not actually in violation of any county nuisance code.

“I’ve gotten some complaints on it, and it is abandoned, but it’s all fenced off,” Pridemore said — so it’s not violating the county’s dangerous building code. Nor is it a violation that weeds are starting to take over the parking area, he said.

Clark County has no code regarding graffiti, he added, so the place isn’t in violation of anything on that count either.

But underground gas tanks? Now we’re talking. The place should have had any such tanks removed years ago, according to Clark County Fire Marshal John Dunaway.

Dunaway checked his records and said the last fire safety inspection at the gas station took place in 2007. All underground tanks should have been removed within a year of the place shutting down, he said.

“It’s funny you called about this, because we’ve just been talking about it,” Dunaway said. He said his office will be contacting the owner shortly to get something done.

“It’s top of our list. Those tanks need to be pulled out of the ground,” he said.

According to Clark County property records, the place was given — for no money, as a gift within a family — in early 2010 by Chou Tai-Soon to Chou Pei-Ching of Bellevue.

Got a question about your neighborhood? We’ll get it answered. Send “What’s Up With That?” questions to neighbors@columbian.com.