North Huntingdon OKs Sheetz site plan; awaits request for liquor license
North Huntingdon officials have approved Sheetz Inc.’s plans to expand its store along Route 30 so that it can meet state liquor laws in order to sell alcohol at the site.
Township commissioners Brian Blasko, Zachary Haigis, David Herold and Tony Martino voted to approve the site plans to expand the Sheetz store along Carpenter Lane by 560 square feet to provide sufficient space to seat 30 customers. The seating is a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board requirement for the sale of alcohol under a restaurant liquor license. The store already meets requirements to sell food.
Commissioners Fran Bevan and Duane Kucera opposed the plans. Commissioner Darryl Bertani was absent.
The township planning commission last week recommended approval of the site plans. Grant Shaffer, a Sheetz project manager, said the Altoona-based convenience store chain will expand the store, regardless of whether it obtains approval of a liquor license for the site. Sheetz hopes to begin construction in June and have it completed within three months, Shaffer said.
Both Bevan and Kucera said after the meeting their opposition was rooted in Sheetz’ plans to sell beer across from Norwin’s Stewartsville Elementary School. They also vowed to oppose any attempt by Sheetz to win the board’s approval to transfer a liquor license into the township. North Huntingdon gets the authority to vote on whether to approve the transfer of the liquor license into the municipality.
After the meeting, Bevan said Sheetz already is selling alcohol at its two other stores in the township — at Ronda Court and at the intersection of Route 30 and North Thompson Lane.
“I don’t see a need for it,” Kucera said.
He said he hopes the LCB also will oppose Sheetz’ attempt to sell alcohol at that store.
“The ball is in their court,” Kucera said.
Sheetz has not notified North Huntingdon it wants to transfer a liquor license for that site, said Jeff Silka, township manager.
Blasko said that he would not oppose a liquor license transfer to that site.
“I don’t feel it is a safety issue,” said Blasko, a Yough middle school teacher. “I think it is more of an LCB issue.”
The Norwin School Board has notified the township and LCB that it opposes Sheetz’ plans to sell alcohol in such close proximity to the elementary school.
Barbara Viola, school board president, attended the meeting but did not express an opinion on the issue. Viola noted that the school district has already expressed its opposition to the plans.
Sheetz has sued the LCB in Centre County Court for denying the company a liquor license for a store near a Bald Eagle Area School District elementary school.
By opposing the transfer of a liquor license to that Sheetz store, North Huntingdon could find itself in a lawsuit, spending taxpayer money, Blasko said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .