Bret McNabb speaks to the Fort Mill Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday night. Seated at left is Chris Pettit, assistant town manager.

A Doby’s Bridge parent lost a close decision Tuesday night by the Fort Mill Board of Zoning Appeals to keep the town from allowing a gas station to be built on land next to the elementary school.

After presentations by assistant town manager Chris Pettit and property owner Bret McNabb, the board voted 4-3 to confirm a decision by town planners to allow the 7-Eleven.

Board Chairman Jim Thomas, who voted against McNabb’s appeal, said parent concerns about gas fumes being set right beside the school playground were not considered because this appeal was strictly about zoning. “We know it’s emotional and if you go that way, nobody is happy,” he said.

Jim Thomas, chairman of the Fort Mill Board of Zoning Appeals, speaks to reporters after Tuesday night’s vote.

McNabb had argued that town zoning officials erred in allowing the gas station to move forward since laws prohibit “industrial or heavy manufacturing uses.” But Pettit said the zoning laws specifically allow the gas station.

Parent Marc DeJesus yells at board members about their decision as an officer begins to usher him out of the meeting.

Still, the emotion behind parent protests was clear during the 90-minute session and was mentioned many times. After the vote, Doby’s Bridge parent Marc DeJesus walked into the chambers and yelled at board members. He had been watching the meeting live from Facebook.

“This is a travesty,” DeJesus yelled as Police Officer Johnathan Gilbert directed him to leave. “You all think this is over. It is not! This isn’t over! This is our children. This is our children that they are endangering.” 

Outside, McNabb said he is considering his options for an appeal to Circuit Court.

“There are still steps to be taken,” he said. “I don’t want to rule out Circuit Court.”

McNabb said he would also like to sit down to talk to the city attorney about other options to resolve parent concerns.

Editor’s Note: The entire meeting was captured live and is available on the Fort Mill Sun’s Facebook page along with reaction to the decision.

Six of the seven board members are pictured before the start of Tuesday’s meeting.