A view of Memphis City Hall where the Memphis City Council meets
Tuesday’s Memphis City Council meeting ran about 5 ½ hours and included key decisions on zoning ordinances. Photo by Andrea Morales for MLK50 

It just became harder to build a crude oil pipeline or construct a gas station in or near some areas of Memphis.

The Memphis City Council Tuesday turned down a Binghampton gas station proposal, approved new zoning restrictions on the businesses and, after months of delay, passed an ordinance regulating crude oil pipelines.

 The measures and the action taken:  

  • Byhalia Connection Pipeline: Months after developers abandoned plans to construct the pipeline through Southwest Memphis, Memphis Community Against the Pipeline and other organizations pushed the council to enact laws that would regulate projects like it in the future. The council on Tuesday adopted one of two proposals and rejected the other, both of which shared a goal of regulating oil pipelines but differed on legal routes to get there.

The council followed their attorney’s advice and approved his “right-of-way” ordinance that requires council permission for pipelines and related projects to cross city streets and other city property. However, the council voted down another joint measure already adopted by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners that the council’s attorney, Allan Wade, considered a legally vulnerable “setback” ordinance. It would have required 1,500 feet between a crude oil pipeline and residential areas.

  • Binghampton gas station: A proposal to build a gas station and convenience store in Binghampton at Sam Cooper Boulevard and Tillman Street failed. The project faced opposition from nearby residents and businesses who said the area already had enough gas stations.
  • New zoning limits: The council adopted zoning changes that place new restrictions on gas stations, tire shops and other businesses that council members consider nuisance-prone and disproportionately located in low-wealth, Black communities.

In March, the council placed a 245-day moratorium on new gas stations, citing data showing that Memphis has six gas stations per 10,000 people, which is above the national average of four per 10,000 people. Meanwhile, the council asked city planners to come up with a plan for changes that would address the problem. 

Carrington J. Tatum is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Email him at carrington.tatum@mlk50.com

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by these generous donors.

Got a story idea, a tip or feedback? Send an email to info@mlk50.com.