Plans pulled for gas station in Unity
By Stacey Federoff
Published: Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Before 629 petition signatures were considered by Unity supervisors, a plan for a Speedway gas station including tractor-trailer fueling was withdrawn from consideration.
Neighbors opposed the increased heavy-truck traffic that would come with requests to develop the 4.2-acre property near the Inn at Mountain View.
Speedway first presented a site plan last month for the conditional use at the vacant lot bordered by Route 30, Frye Farm Road and Village Drive.
The petitions came from residents of the nearby Charter Oak, Timbercrest, East High Acres developments and families whose children attend the Elizabeth Seton Montessori School on Frye Farm Road.
“We don't intend to bring pitchforks and torches, but we just wish to voice our opinion, and with these petitions, we've done that,” said Leo Stewart, president of the East High Acres Homeowners Association, adding that the group of 212 represented in the neighborhood opposed the gas station altogether.
“This convenience store model does nothing to beautify the gateway to our community,” he said.
David Nelson, president of the Charter Oak Civic Association, said the 248 residents there were concerned about added traffic to the area, which borders Route 30 across from the proposed gas station.
“As it is now, it's an adventure,” he said. “I think with the additional traffic of the Speedway station, it's going to be a real safety concern.”
Solicitor Gary Falatovich informed the crowd of about 50 gathered at the meeting that, while their petitions were taken into consideration, Speedway withdrew the plan on Tuesday.
Supervisors formally approved the withdrawal during Wednesday's meeting.
Township and company officials met with the state Department of Transportation on Nov. 7 to discuss a traffic plan for the development, which included a 4,600-square-foot convenience store.
Falatovich explained that Speedway may submit a new plan by Nov. 22, possibly without the diesel fueling islands, to be considered by the planning commission at its meeting Dec. 3, then by supervisors at a special public hearing on Dec. 17.
“I appreciate all the work everyone did in getting ... the signatures, but they all appear to be opposing a Speedway itself as a gas station, but a lot of it relates to the diesel pumps,” he said.
Any further petitions should be submitted when a site plan is considered and made a part of an official record, in case any decision is appealed by the company in court, Falatovich said.
“We can't take them in as evidence for a plan that doesn't exist, and we can't take them in as evidence outside the scope of a public hearing that isn't being conducted,” he said.
The solicitor also recommended that concerned residents or organizations review any new site plan, which is a public record, before writing a petition or attending the public hearing.
Supervisor Mike O'Barto said he appreciated the effort of the residents.
“I don't think all these people would be here today if they did not have concerns. This is one elected official that is all ears,” he said.
In other business, the township presented a preliminary budget for 2014 that was balanced at $5.2 million with no proposed tax increases. The township plans to receive $574,056 in liquid fuels funding from the state, which is allocated toward road maintenance, about $21,000 less than last year.
Overall, O'Barto said, the township is prospering, a credit to increased building inspections and permits as well as the skills of township employees, who are able to save money by fixing equipment in-house.
“We're very fortunate to have these people,” he said.
Supervisors estimate in the budget that $41,500 will be refunded to senior citizens in 2014 after a new rebate program goes in to effect.
The board also approved advertisement of an amended ordinance that adjusts deadlines for those rebate applications.
After paying 2013 property taxes, residents 65 and older who meet income and other eligibility requirements will have from May 15 through July 31 to apply.
Originally, the deadline was Oct. 15, but in conferring with officials at Berkheimer, the county's tax collector, officials decided those dates would be more appropriate. The advertised amendments also will specify that seniors must meet income guidelines for the preceding year, in case the current year's federal guidelines change before taxes are processed.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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