Unity zoning panel rejects parking plan for proposed Sheetz | TribLIVE.com

Unity zoning panel rejects parking plan for proposed Sheetz

Jeff Himler
Courtesy of Sheetz
Sheetz Inc. is opening a gas station/convenience store on U.S. Route 30 just east of Greensburg. Route 30 previously had no eastbound gas stations between Greensburg and Latrobe.
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
Site plan for proposed Unity Township Sheetz store shows entrance from Route 30, near bottom, and six gas pumps, at left.
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
A motorist waits to pull out from Theater Street onto Route 30 on July 24, 2019, next to Geo’s Restaurant and Lounge in Unity Township. The restaurant sits on a portion of the property proposed for development of a Sheetz store.

Developers planning a new Sheetz convenience store along Route 30 in Unity received township approval of most exterior signs proposed for the store but were denied a variance needed to place 10 parking spaces near the highway.

The store and six gasoline pumps are being eyed for the northeast corner of Route 30 and Theater Street, where Geo’s restaurant is located.

The township zoning hearing board on Tuesday granted developers Akela Realty Group and Skilken Gold Real Estate Development a variance from the normal limit of 100 total square feet of exterior wall signs. But the board specifically denied a sign that would declare the store’s “24/7” operating hours on the north side of the building, facing neighboring homes.

The 6,100-square-foot store “didn’t need any more north-side illumination,” board member Jackie Nindel said following the board’s meeting. She added that Sheetz is well-known for operating its stores 24 hours per day.

Sarah Krivonik, who lives on Theater Street near the planned development, repeated her request at earlier township meetings — that Sheetz install fencing to keep lights at the store from bothering adjacent residents.

Ryan Balko, engineer for the Sheetz project, said light generated by the “24/7” sign would not be as bright as overhead lights in the store parking lot. But, he said the lights would be designed to avoid shining on neighboring properties.

Township Solicitor Gary Falatovich said plans for the store submitted by developers have not shown how a 60-foot buffer that is required between the store and homes would affect lighting.

The zoning hearing panel voted to deny a variance that would have allowed 10 parking spaces to be located 32 feet from a new deceleration lane for westbound traffic entering the Sheetz lot from Route 30. Under township regulations, a 35-foot setback is required for such off-street parking.

Nindel said she agreed with the township solicitor’s traffic-related objections to the spaces fronting Route 30.

“The location of the spaces is problematic, and we think it would create difficulties and traffic concerns,” Falatovich said. He noted that vehicles entering the Sheetz lot via the deceleration lane and headed toward the take-out lane would be “making about a 160-degree turn to the right and going between two sets of parking spaces where people can be backing out at the same time.”

Falatovich said elimination of the 10 parking spots from the developer’s submitted plan still would allow for 33 spaces — two more than are required under township regulations.

David Mastrostefano, engineering permit manager for Sheetz, said elimination of 10 spaces from the lot would not provide enough to accommodate customers.

“Take away seven to nine (spaces), for employee shift turnover, and now you’re down to the low 20s for customers,” he said. “I think that’s problematic from an operational standpoint.”

He said site planners would try to find another part of the lot where the spaces could be relocated.

The Sheetz site plan remains under separate review by the township planning commission.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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