City Council approves zone change for incoming Jiffy Lube by Virgin River

St. George City Council, St. George, Utah, January 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George New

ST. GEORGE – A zone change allowing for the construction of a Jiffy Lube near the Virgin River was approved in a St. George City Council meeting by a 3-2 vote Thursday. Council members said the vote was not easy, particularly after hearing concerns from area residents about possible environmental issues.

A public hearing was held during a regular meeting of the City Council Thursday to discuss the potential approval of a zone change for a .66 acre piece of land at 1450 South and River Road. The requested zone change comes in connection with the Boulder Creek Commons and Boulder Creek Crossing developments of Shefco and its representative Stephen Sheffield. It would allow for the inclusion of a Jiffy Lube in the development, something which doesn’t sit well with some residents living near that location.

The Jiffy Lube was a lengthy topic of discussion during a planning commission meeting in January in which recommendation for approval of the zone change had been tabled. Primary concerns put forth by residents at the January meeting focused on environmental protection. Those concerns were echoed in last night’s meeting, expressing worry that a Jiffy Lube, which specializes in changing vehicle motor oil, has the potential to contaminate the nearby Virgin River.

Some residents pointed to the location of the proposed Jiffy Lube as being in a potential flood plain and geologically unsound area. If another major flood or earthquake hits, what’s to keep the motor oil from contaminating the Virgin River?

Along with environmental concerns, there were also concerns about the Jiffy Lube facility ruining the aesthetics of the area. One resident compared the potential sight of a motor oil shop to the scar on the Black Hill.

“It’s our river and it’s the only one we’ve got,” another resident told the City Council. He said that if the council approveds the zone change, they will be setting a dangerous precedence and open the door to ruining the river.

Shane Smoot, an environmental attorney representing Jiffy Lube, told the council that claims of environmental threats to the area were distorted and not based in fact. Jiffy Lube is an environmentally friendly company he said, and all the motor oil used by the shop would be recycled.

Addressing the likelihood of the motor oil being released into the environment, Smoot said: “It’s extremely remote. I don’t know how it would happen.”

He said the motor oil will be kept in a sealed vault just beneath the Jiffy Lube. The vault is surrounded by 10-inch thick concrete, he said.

“Motor oil is dramatically different from gasoline,” Smoot said. If the motor oil happened to escape containment, it wouldn’t get that far. Unlike gasoline, which flows quite freely and can spread anywhere, motor oil tends to pool by where it is spilled or leaked.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 gallons of motor are expected to be stored on site.

As for visibility of the Jiffy Lube, Smoot said they were already working to put a hedge and trees around the property to obstruct some of the view of the facility for neighboring residents.

There were requests from the residents that the council propose Jiffy Lube relocate to a spot away from the river. Smoot said the company had already invested $500,000 on the current property.

This is a tough, tough issue for me,” Councilman Jimmie Hughes said. He said that though he has a dislike for certain environmental restraints, he also has a deep respect for the Virgin River.

“I’m not sure anything right there is a good idea,” Councilwoman Michele Randall said.

The City Council collectively stated the decision of voting on the zone change was not an easy one.

City Councilman Gil Almquist was the first to recommend a motion to approve the zone change. After a long, silent pause that left some council members looking at each other, Hughes finally seconded the motion.

City Councilmen Almquist, Hughes, and Joe Bowcutt voted to approve the zone change. Councilwomen Randall and Bette Arial voted against it.

The Boulder Creek Commons and Crossing developments are located on the east and west sides of River Road, respectively, containing approximately 21.08 acres of land. Concerns of neighbors and others were brought and addressed at the Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 21, minutes of which are attached as a resource below.


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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

St. George City Council, St. George, Utah, January 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George New
St. George City Council, St. George, Utah, January 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George New

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  • em February 21, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Boy, this is disturbing…a Jiffy Lube by the Virgin River…really? I noticed the Maverik being built next to the bridge on River Road and couldn’t believe my eyes! Is there any business (location, in these instances) that this council will say no too? At least take into consideration -and seriously- the enormous risks of contamination of the waterway. You people are looking amazingly short-sighted (at best). So the best plan you can come up with is re-channel the waterway, not propose a more appropriate location for certain business types? Disgusting.

  • D Hodja February 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Wow on property that had to be built up it is so close to the Virgin River. Seems an obviously poor decision by all involved. I see $. Let’s hope that area isn’t under a couple feet of water like it was a few years back.

  • Nonbeliever February 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    After seeing the destruction the last TWO floods have caused the areas surrounding the Virgin River I am really surprised the majority of the city council voted yes. Shortsighted? Poor memory? Personal gain?
    It’s stupid and reckless. And it’s equally stupid and reckless for Jiffy Lube to invest in that property. Sorry no sympathy for your bad business decision.
    We watched homes and their concrete foundations ripped away by the flood waters. An enormous steel bridge tossed down River like a toy.
    Come on people use some common sense. That river flooded all the way across the street to the health club. How could you forget that?

  • doofy February 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Right-wing ideas in action. Money comes before all else. The Lord will deal with the bad outcomes. 😀

    • Zeke February 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      What about Progressive Liberal ideas where they steal everybody elses money to implement their always bad outcomes? Which is worse? Or are they both equally bad?

      • doofy February 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm

        Some examples of liberals stealing your money? Were the failed wars in the middle east not “stealing money”?

        • doofy February 21, 2014 at 2:58 pm

          also zeke, how do you like social security? medicare? generous pensions? public schools? all these are liberal ideas.

          • Zeke February 21, 2014 at 3:44 pm

            Enough said. These are all failures!

          • doofy February 21, 2014 at 7:12 pm

            In a way yes. Some of these retirees have way too cushy lifestyles at the expense of people currently working. Probably the plush lifestyles of seniors is what will bankrupt the country. Public schools… meh idk…

  • JAR February 21, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    This conversation reminds me of a past study in So. California a while back.
    Concerned folks were suggesting that no structure be build within a half mile of the beach because of a possible earthquakes and tide waves. Plus the grunion fish might feel cramped when they run to lay their eggs.

  • Biden 2016 February 21, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    All development must stop!! I am outraged!! This is why I am supporting Biden/Sean Penn in 2016.

    • Gunther February 21, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      What about “Scraping the bottom with Rodham in 2016” ??

  • Bender February 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    In a sane world the Virgin River flood plain through out St. George city boundaries would be held as open space by the city and the private property owners made whole by swaps for other develop-able lands outside of the flood plain. A land swap with the Federal government for BLM lands might even have been possible. Instead we have politicians either in bed with, or scared to death of offending developers.
    Instead we got development anywhere and everywhere “protected” by engineered riprap barriers with very optimistic design assumptions. When the mighty unregulated Virgin blows through these developed areas your conservative, big government hating local politicians — county commissioners, mayor and city council — will be first in line begging for federal dollars to fix the damage.

    • doofy February 21, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      Big bad OBAMA to the rescue?

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