You Ask...Patch Answers!
Patch answers the question: Why four gas stations .1 miles apart?
Our very first You Ask...Patch Answers question comes this week from Janice Backman, who asks:
The last time I counted there were four gas stations on East Main Road. What's up with that?
A resident of Portsmouth is wondering about the four gas stations (BP, Irving, local merchant Oliveira's and Cumberland Farms) within the area of .1 miles, or 468 steps from the first BP to the last Cumberland Farms.
Local proprietor John Oliveira of Oliveira's Full Service Station, which has been in the area the longest (John's father started the full service station in the 1940s) said he had no explanation upon the town's insurgence to let another station (Irving) build so close to his gas station.
He did take exception to what is happening after hearing concern from the neighbors, but as for the reason that there are now four, he said he didn't know.
Oliveira said, years ago, his family fought to not have the Cumberland Farms station built since it would hurt his business. Oliveira also said that Cumberland farms just had more money at the time and was able to put in the second station within the area.
After researching, Patch has also learned that these four sites have a long history of gas stations, which receive licenses issued by the state and not the town to operate.
Before Irving was purchased by its current owner in 2007, it was the site of a Mutual Gas station, according to town Building Inspector George Medeiros. A few other gas stations were also located at the site under different names.
While Oliveira's station has been at its current location since the '40s, Cumberland Farms, just up the street, has also been at its site since 1984. Before then, the property was owned by VSH Realty Inc.
BP was also the site of another gas station. The location once housed a Getty and was previously owned by Alwar Equities Inc.
"That's been a gas stations for years," said Medeiros.
It makes sense there would be four gas stations in this area due to the close location to the highway and Mt. Hope Bridge.
Portsmouth Town Planner Robert Gilstein also gave an answer to this question.
Gilstein said that residents have to see this as a business and it is up to the property owner to make a business decision on what will pay the bills most effectively for the property.
He mentioned that with the new Irving station owner George Giacobbi had all the permits and commercial zone laws to put in the above station, and it was his decision that it would keep him in business.
The town did hear complaints and could have fought the decision in court, but in turn, Jacoby would have been able to counter sue the town directly for lost wages, according to Gilstein.
So, in the bottom line, it is up to the proprietor and what he feels is the best way to pay off the land costs and make profit.
Here is what each gas station offers at the site:
Cumberland Farms: unleaded, regular and diesel, convenience store
Oliveira's: full service pumping, unleaded and repair shop
BP: unleaded and diesel