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Residents protest proposed Speedway store in Delmont

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By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A group of Delmont residents want officials to say, “No way!” to a proposed Speedway.

The gasoline and convenience-store chain last month submitted plans for a 4.5-acre station on more than 8 acres along Route 66 near West Pittsburgh Street and across the street from a residential neighborhood. A group of about 10 residents protested the development during last week's council meeting. They cited worries that the gas station would lower property values and cause safety issues.

“I can't imagine trucks coming up a residential street like that,” resident Rebecca Killian said. “How any of you, with a good conscience, can vote for this, I just can't imagine.”

The plan includes three diesel pumps and eight gasoline pumps. As many as 16 cars would be able to refuel at one time, officials said. Borough engineer Gary Baird said the plan is akin to a Get-Go or Sheetz that includes several gas pumps and a convenience store.

What worries residents is the number of diesel pumps.

“I'm picturing semis coming in and out of a residential neighborhood,” said Linda Schmida, who lives along West Pittsburgh Street.

Tim Schmida said he thinks the plan will affect property values for the homes adjacent to the station. He wants to know how property values near similar Speedway locations have fared.

Council President Jim Bortz said he shares a lot of the worries that residents have. He said he understands residents' worries about what could be developed adjacent to their property.

“I don't like our rights being taken away from us, but on the other hand, I don't want a pig farm next to me either,” Bortz said. “We're doing everything we can to get answers.”

Those aren't the only concerns.

Resident Tim Bytner said he worries about the amount of noise that tractor-trailers would make filling up at the station, which, he said, would attract truckers.

“I wake up at 4:21 every morning,” Bytner said. “Sleeps are going to be a lot harder to come by in that area.”

Brandon Daniels, a spokesman for parent company Marathon Petroleum, said the company prides itself on its committment to safe operations and environmental stewardship.

“Speedway focuses on providing the merchandise and fuels that consumers want in an efficient, convenient manner — diesel is one of those fuels in demand,” Daniels said. “In many ways, diesel is what keeps this country running as it powers the transport vehicles that deliver products and goods across the country.”

Bortz said council will move forward cautiously with the proposal. However, there is a timetable by which officials must abide. Under state regulations, officials have 90 days to vote on the plans, or else the developer receives automatic approval. For the Speedway project, that 90-day time frame began Aug. 1, borough Solicitor Dan Hewitt said.

There are several options if council is not ready to approve the plans, he said. Council could reject the project, leaving Speedway to reapply with new plans, or the company could request an extension to meet officials' requests.

Baird said the borough planning commission has forwarded questions on the plans to developers and will hold another meeting in late August or early September.

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