The Unity Township Supervisors on Thursday approved a conditional use request for Sheetz’s proposed plans for a store along Route 30 West and Theatre Street.
During a public hearing last month, Ohio-based real estate developer Skilken Gold showed preliminary plans for a 6,100-square-foot gas station and convenience store at property where Geo’s Restaurant & Lounge currently sits along with an adjacent shuttered ice cream shop.
Ryan Herchenroether, director of development for Skilken Gold, said the proposed Sheetz will be a 24/7 operation, with a drive-thru lane for food and drink orders, seating on the inside and outside of the store and about 40 parking spaces for customers. He added that there are currently no plans for a car wash at the site.
Alcoholic beverages sales might be offered at the store, Herchenroether noted, with approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
Sheetz spokesman Nick Ruffner said the company looks to begin construction of the store in the spring with an estimated opening date sometime late next summer.
According to preliminary drawings, there will be right-in and right-out access to the Sheetz on Route 30, along with a secondary entrance using Theater Street.
Any changes to the intersection are contingent upon a traffic study through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). While Herchenroether said traffic counts were done earlier this month, officials said the traffic study is in its infancy and likely won’t be completed anytime soon.
At last month’s hearing, project engineer Ryan Balko of the GPD Group couldn’t provide a total number of vehicles projected to travel to and from the store. While Herchenroether said the traffic study will be done at various times, one resident at the hearing urged officials that traffic counts should be taken during the school year when more vehicles travel the busy intersection.
Roughly a dozen residents spoke out against the project last month, expressing issues related to traffic, noise and stormwater runoff. Resident Sarah Krivonik asked if Sheetz would consider measures for possible disturbances for residents along Theatre and Golf streets, including installing a perimeter fence and limiting the hours when it receives deliveries.
Township solicitor Gary Falatovich said township zoning regulations require a minimum 60-foot buffer between the proposed store and nearby homes.
Krivonik wanted to discuss plans for the site at Thursday’s meeting, but was unable to give her thoughts because testimony had to be provided during previous public hearings related to the project.
As for numerous residents’ stormwater concerns, Balko said runoff would go into a retention pond at the eastern end of the site and then into an existing stormwater system along Golf Street. Some of the stormwater issues would be addressed if Skilken adjusts a slope on the existing property, according to Gwen Moreland, who co-owns the portion of the site where Geo’s sits.
A convenience store with gas fueling islands is a conditional use in the township’s B-3 business zoning district, Falatovich said.
Falatovich said the firm will have to provide a full site plan and a stormwater management plan. Several of the conditions discussed at the public hearing will be part of the plan, he added.
Ruffner said Sheetz has 274 Pennsylvania locations, including 15 in Westmoreland County. In December, a new store opened along Route 30 East in Hempfield Township not far from the municipality’s border with Unity Township.