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Controversial Exxon station opens as Shell

Clinton’s Dean De Rosario fills up at the new Freeland Shell station. the business opened wuietly this weekend without the protests it experencied during construction work in the spring. - Matt Johnson
Clinton’s Dean De Rosario fills up at the new Freeland Shell station. the business opened wuietly this weekend without the protests it experencied during construction work in the spring.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Without much fanfare, a new gas station and convenience store at the intersection of Highway 525 and Fish Road in Freeland opened Saturday.

A temporary banner posted along the highway declared it Now Open this week as the Freeland Service Center started business under the Shell Oil logo. The opening was limited in scale, with only the 10-pump Shell gas station and mini-market opening for business.

Not opening were a fast food restaurant, a mini-lube facility and a car wash. Construction continues on the mini-lube building adjacent to the main building.

The project, which started construction last spring, has been controversial. After a fight in front of the Island County Hearing Examiner over whether or not the service station property was a wetland, sign-toting protesters rallied around the edges of the development. The station’s developers — Mick Olsen, Terry Otey, and Gordon Koetje — were able to prove the land was not a wetland and were able to continue building their project after a lengthy work stoppage.

Not a single protester was in sight Saturday as a few drivers pulled into the station to take advantage of gas prices advertised at 10 cents lower than most gas stations on South Whidbey. Dean Del Rosario, who stopped to fill up his car, said he hadn’t planned to stop until he saw the posted gas prices.

“I wasn’t even going to turn,” he said.

As for the rest of the businesses at the site, little information was available this week.

The station’s owner, Kent Myers and Associates, would not give any comments about the opening or the openings of the car wash, mini-lube, or restaurant. However, Island County Health Department restaurant inspector Sally Waters said the restaurant will include typical fast food such as hamburgers, french fries, milk shakes and pre-made pizzas. She said no national or regional fast food franchise connected connected with the operation. It will be locally owned and operated, she said.

Originally, on planning documents submitted to the county, the gas station was to open as an Exxon franchisee.

The only hitch in the opening was a 10 or 12-gallon gasoline spill that occurred at the station Saturday evening. Fire Protection District 3 personnel responded to the site to mop up the fuel. FD3 Captain Jerry Beck said the spill probably resulted from a faulty pump shutoff valve.

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