Abandoned service stations can become a source of blight in Chicago’s neighborhoods. The buildings on these sites may fall into disrepair. Because they may be open and unsecured, they can become havens for illicit activities. Underground storage tanks, and the associated environmental concerns, are frequently present. Redevelopment is often hampered by the fear of environmental contamination.
In 1996, the Department of Public Health (CDPH) initiated the Abandoned Service Station Program to identify these sites throughout the City, perform inspections, and seek compliance through either voluntary means or enforcement.
If an owner is unwilling to bring a site into compliance, CDPH follows a procedure it developed, which allows for the abatement of any nuisances associated with the site by demolishing buildings, removing any tanks, and securing the site. After abatement, CDPH works to recover costs from the owner either through litigation or the assignment of a foreclosable lien on the property.
The program also assists the City in redevelopment projects by assessing and cleaning-up sites impacted by historic underground storage tank activities.