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City trying to close west side "nuisance" gas station

Posted at 7:52 PM, Dec 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-05 20:52:15-05

MILWAUKEE — A gas station on the city's West Side is at risk of being closed after being declared a chronic nuisance by the city.

The BP Gas Station near 35th and McKinley has been owned by Gurdev Singh for the last 16 years. But in the last year, there have been four shooting incidents according to the city. Those shootings eclipse the threshold of two firearms-related incidents within a year to make it a chronic nuisance.

"Arrests were made in some cases, some cases not," Ald. Bob Bauman said. "It may be drug dealing, shootings or fighting. Basically, this has become a den of crime for whatever reason."

The City cites three firearm incidents and three drug-related incidents at the gas station in 2019. The chronic nuisance designation is pretty rare, as only five other institutions have received it this year. However, this gas station is the only one at risk of losing its license.

"They're in pretty elite status as far as crime, fear, and disorder," Bauman said. "The level of activity over the last year bumped up significantly. I would think that business would look inward and say, we have a problem here. We have to deal with this. Ultimately, they are responsible for what happens on their premises."

"The nuisance activity that happened at his business is no fault of his own," Vincent Bobot, attorney for Singh said. "He has 16 cameras, a security guard at night. All of the activity occurred outside the convenience store at the gas pumps."

Bobot says Singh brought forward a plan of action to fix his business after he was notified of the chronic nuisance designation before he sought legal representation. However, he says it was rejected.

"The original plan he prepared could have been in much more detail," Bobot said. "The revised abatement plan is more detailed."

As a result, the Common Council's License Committee voted to not renew the gas station's license. The recommendation was accepted by a vote of two for, one against and one abstained.

The Near West Side Partners say the neighborhoods around the gas station are rebounding. Keith Stanley, Executive Director for the group says crime has gone down by double digits and they've added 37 new businesses to the neighborhoods. So he wants something to change with the gas station.

"When you're negatively impacting the community a certain way, we want you to listen," Stanley said. "Put extra lights up. Put extra security up. Make sure when residents have concerns, you address them. This isn't rocket science. We are pro-business, [but] we need businesses to listen."

The full council will vote on whether they will renew this gas station's license on December 17th. Bobot says if they deny his client's abatement plan, they will file a circuit court action. Otherwise, the gas station could be forced to close when it's current license expires in early January.