By Sophia Beausoleil – Reporter, KPRC-TV
March 23, 2017
BAYTOWN, Texas - The Harris County Attorney’s Office said on behalf of the State of Texas, it has filed a lawsuit against a Chevron truck stop accused of not stopping illegal activity.
According to the lawsuit that was filed on Thursday, it states that the gas station, located at 1901 East Freeway, is well known to the community and law enforcement for drugs, prostitution, assaults on the property and illegal gambling.
“All of those things combined makes it a very dangerous place,” explained Celina Celena Vinson, an attorney for the county. “A place that the residents there shouldn’t have to deal with because it brings down the quality of life for everybody around it.”
Court documents state the owners “knowingly tolerate the activity and have not made reasonable attempts to abate it.”
The Harris County Attorney’s Office said it hopes once the owners get the lawsuit, they’ll put into place steps to stop the illegal activity.
“We need some permanent solutions, we want permanent relief for the neighborhood and the residents living there,” said Vinson. “Of course we’re willing to work with them if they take some steps, but we’re going to ensure that they’re reasonable to stop what’s taking place there.”
The lawsuit threatens other actions if the problem doesn’t get better including shutting it down.
The lawsuit states, “If after notice and a hearing the court determines that the Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits in this suit to abate a common nuisance, the court shall order reasonable requirements to prevent the use and maintenance of the Chevron Gas Station Truck Stop.”
The documents said they would have to pay a bond to the state between $5,000 and $10,000 under the condition that they will not allow the activities to continue.
If the bond agreement is violated, court documents state the bond amount and attorney fees would have to be paid by the owners and the Chevron Gas Station Truck Stop would be ordered to close for one year.
The Court could also slap the man with different sanctions including cutting off utilities, revoking occupancy permit, prohibiting access, limiting hours of operation, ordering termination of the tenant’s lease or any other legal remedy available under the law.
The Chevron’s main neighbors are three other truck stops on each corner of Thompson Street which runs underneath I-10.
There are some homes behind the questioned gas station and residents are well aware of the activity that goes on.
“When the truck stops were first put in we started noticing a lot of street walkers, strange people,” explained Andrew Carrier who has lived in the area for almost 50 years. “The drug traffic picked up tremendously in that time, we had a drug house down the street, that was shut down and things have settled down.”
Carrier said he’s glad the county is doing something about the problem, but doesn’t think it will end.
“If they shut down that Chevron somebody’s going to buy that place, that’s a prime business spot,” said Carrier. “And they’re not going to stop what’s going on in those parking lots, every truck stop you find on the interstates it’s going to be the same way.”