A Westminster businessman's plans for a 24-hour gas station and small grocery store at the corner of Liberty and Green streets met a chorus of concerns about crime from residents last night.
At a public meeting, West Green Street residents and several business owners told Stanley H. "Jack" Tevis III, president of Tevis Oil Co., they oppose his plans for a round-the-clock operation.
The meeting, held on the site where Mr. Tevis plans to put his business, was attended by about 40 people and lasted about an hour.
Mr. Tevis, who has a contract to buy the former Farmers Supply Co. property, brought a drawing of his plans for a gasoline station, Subway sandwich franchise, ice cream franchise, small grocery store and possibly retail shops.
Neighbors expressed concern about increased traffic, but crime was the paramount issue.
"After I close at 9 and you're open all night, what's going to come downtown?" asked Kim Niemeyer, a retired military man who plans to open a Main Street gift shop selling British and Irish woolens and crystal.
Mr. Niemeyer said crime rose in his old neighborhood in Ohio when stores started staying open 24 hours. The stores became targets for robbers and soon the police were chasing the robbers through his neighborhood, he said.
One woman said she had seen robberies and muggings increase in a once quiet neighborhood in Catonsville after stores started staying open 24 hours and didn't want to see a similar situation in Westminster.
Mr. Tevis said he would consider 24-hour security if "that is something that would make people feel more comfortable."
Whether Mr. Tevis can build will depend on whether the City Council approves a proposed zoning change that would bar new gas stations from the central business district.
The council is scheduled to conduct a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall on proposed zoning changes that would bar package goods stores, veterinary clinics, adult entertainment and some other uses -- including gas stations -- in the central business area.
Without selling gasoline, the plan won't work, Mr. Tevis said. He said such sales would bring in 50 percent of revenue.
If the council disallows the gas station and store, he plans to build a convenience store and gas station on property he owns at the corner of Carroll and West Main streets. That proposal has been approved.