While gas prices skyrocket, New York State’s aggressive anti-climate-change legislation has one Capital Region town considering a ban on new fueling stations altogether.

Koehler Urges Higher Gas Prices
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As gas prices near a $5.00 per gallon average across Upstate, the debate over gasoline’s role in the state and country’s future burns on. Not only does burning fuel take a toll on both wallets and the environment, some say that gas stations are a waste of space - that new stations are simply a poor use of land.

With more than 20 gas stations servicing the population of 35,000, Bethlehem might be ready to pull the plug on fuel as they promote the plug on electric vehicle charging. This month, the town board has the opportunity to ban any new gas stations and the expansion of any current stations within city limits. The changing of a single word in a Capital Region town’s Comprehensive Plan for new zoning is what draws the legal line.

The Difference One Word Makes

The Comprehensive Plan Update Committee’s plan previously stated they wanted to, "avoid new or expanded fossil fuel dispensing and plan for conversion to electric,” but a language change in late May recommended the laws “prohibit new or expanded” gas stations.

Moving from “eh, we don’t like them” to “absolutely legally not” is a large jump: one that would have to be codified in the zoning laws themselves and require detailing what constitutes “expanded fossil fuel dispensing.” If a full expansion ban is passed, that would likely throw a wrench into the recently announced renovations of the Stewart’s Shops on 9W in Glenmont.

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The full Comprehensive Plan for Bethlehem’s future will come to a vote on Wednesday June 22 at the Town Hall Auditorium.

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