SIMI VALLEY : Shell Asks for Later Hearing on Project

Shell Oil Co., whose plan for a gas station, mini-mart and car wash has ignited strong neighborhood opposition, has asked the Simi Valley City Council to postpone Monday's appeal hearing on the project.

The Planning Commission denied Shell's proposal in a 3-to-2 vote Aug. 19 after residents said it would bring noise, traffic and crime and did not comply with the city's development rules. The station would be built at Yosemite Avenue, just north of the Simi Valley Freeway. The oil company appealed the denial, and the council is scheduled to consider the matter Monday. But in a letter made public Friday, Shell said it needs more time to prepare its case.

F. Duggan Smith, Shell's area real estate manager, asked the council to reschedule the appeal to Nov. 16. Smith said he wants to take the project back to Neighborhood Council No. 4, made up of residents living near the gas station site, before the City Council conducts its hearing.

Wolf Ascher, the city's deputy director for current planning, said the council is not obligated to grant the postponement and could order the appeal hearing to proceed as scheduled Monday.

Members of Citizens for a Safe and Scenic Simi Valley, the group that opposed the station before the Planning Commission, have said they will urge the council to deny Shell's appeal.

The gas station would be built next to a McDonald's restaurant that generated similar opposition this year. The council deadlocked 2 to 2 on the restaurant, letting the Planning Commission's earlier approval of that project stand.

If the Shell hearing is postponed until Nov. 16, it would take place after the election, in which a mayor and two council members will be chosen.

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