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Proposed Oakmont gas station gets thumbs down

| Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 1:56 a.m.

Oakmont Council sought public input Monday on a proposed gas station/convenience store, and it was a collective thumbs down.

More than 80 residents packed council chambers for a public hearing on the proposed Speedway development. It would be located at the former Lieberth and Sons Dodge/Chrysler care dealership along Hulton Road near the bridge. The property is now vacant.

At least a dozen residents spoke, and not one of them voiced support for granting a conditional use for the estimated $3 million development.

Council President Thomas Milberger said that the earliest council would likely make a decision would be in August.

Jonathan Wocher, the planner who designed the development for Ohio-based Speedway chain, outlined the development that features:

• 3,900-square-foot convenience store/restaurant of masonry construction that will operate 24 hours;

• eight fuel dispenser islands with a total of 16 pumps;

• three in-ground storage tanks that will hold a total of 44,000 gallons of fuel;

• four entrances/exits including one on busy Hulton Road, one on Third Street and two on Woodland Avenue, which bounds the rear of the property;

• a brick pillar and decorative metal fence barrier with landscaping on the interior to screen the property along Hulton Road;

• landscaped areas on all four sides, with 21 trees and 68 shrubs;

• LED lighting on the canopy that does not shine light beyond the property;

• 30 to 40 employees, who will be hired locally.

Wocher said that the Speedway plan meets or exceeds Oakmont's requirements for things such as setbacks, landscaping and the size and height of the Speedway sign. He said the property is “surrounded by commercial zoning.”

“We think we will provide an amenity to Oakmont residents as well as the motoring public,” Wocher said. “We have a project that we feel should be approved.”

The plan was presented in May to the planning commission, which recommended it with certain recommendations or conditions including a review of Speedway's traffic study and a reduction in hours of operation.On the matter of traffic accessing and exiting the site, there were concerns voiced by both residents and borough officials.

Wocher said the plan was developed with access by customers and access by fuel trucks as a primary focus.

He said the idea is for trucks to turn left into the property from Hulton Road, exit by turning left onto Woodland, then left again onto Third Street and finally left onto Hulton Road in order leave town via Allegheny Avenue.

“We expect that we would have at most one (fuel) truck deliver per day, probably every day-and-a-half,” Wocher said.

However, residents were concerned that the additional traffic generated by Speedway would make it more dangerous for students from Riverview High School, which sits across the street, to cross Hulton Road on foot. Other residents questioned problems with trucks navigating the narrow streets around the property.

Several residents said that another gas station was not what Oakmont needed.

“A food store would be much better,” said Richard Williams of Summit Street.

“I'd like to keep our little corner of Oakmont peaceful and not have a 24-hour gas station,” said Sandra Wilkinson of Huston Road.

Karen Graff, owner of Oakmont Martial Arts said, “It doesn't solve a need for the community. I very much support bringing in business to our community. But I would like to see something that we don't already have.”

Dave Fawcett of California Avenue, a former council member, urged council to negotiate hard with Speedway on all terms of the development. He suggested considering a reduction in the number of gas pumps.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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