By Reg Chapman

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A number of incidents at a St. Paul gas station have the Department of Safety and Inspections attempting to strip the business of its tobacco and gasoline licenses.

“Punishing me; it’s like the punishment does not fit the crime,” owner Khaled Aloul said.

Aloul says he cannot control crime that happens outside his business, the BP gas station located at Hamline and University Avenues, and that the crime is an issue for police. He does, however, want to work with the neighborhood to take back the corner and improve the area.

“Why do we want to surrender to drug dealers? Why we going to surrender to criminal who wants to drive us out? Let’s fight together,” Aloul said.

Aloul says he has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into architect and engineering drawings for a new gas station.

“We’re going to close for eight months, rebuild the building, and then this way we can have more food like bakery, like coffee, like something now we can’t have,” Aloul said.

Aloul’s plans for a $1.6 million remodel are on hold as a result of the battle for his licensing.

“They feel the only way to prevent the crime is to shut this business down because it’s a magnet. That’s what they claim: It’s a magnet for crime. Every business, every location can be magnet for crime because if we close they are going to go somewhere else. They are not just going to stop there,” Aloul said.

He hopes to prove to St. Paul’s City Council he can work with neighbors to make this location the jewel of the Midway neighborhood.

“We just want to really improve the situation. I think this is an excellent location. I think we can clean it up. We can work together and we can get it done,” Aloul said.

City inspectors say the gas station sells cigarettes to minors and does not help investigators when asked to provide surveillance video of incidents there. A hearing will be held on Nov. 13 to decide the fate of Aloul’s licenses.

Reg Chapman

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