I’ve been getting a fair number of questions about the recent proposal by Sheetz to buy the Crocks property at the corner of Fairchild Avenue and SR 43 so I thought I’d see if I could summarize the status of the project from the City’s perspective.
First off, I will admit that the new Crain/Fairchild Avenue bridge makes it a little trickier to evaluate this proposal because it’s yet to be seen exactly how all of the new traffic patterns will play out with the new relocated bridge and signal changes. Still, the property owners certainly have every right to not want to wait if they think they’ve got a good deal on the table so with that in mind we have done our best to make comments based on both existing and new bridge conditions.
He’s a plan view of the proposed Sheetz store and the new bridge project:
Here’s what’s happened so far.
Earlier this month the Sheetz folks took some preliminary plans in to show the citizens on the City’s Architectural Review Board what they were thinking in terms of building styling and architectural treatments. The Architectural Review Board has no formal voting role over the project but they did offer comments in support of the company’s efforts to soften the exterior to blend better with the character of the residential neighborhood.
The project then moved on to the Planning Commission which began its review of the proposed Sheetz Gas Station on Tuesday evening (August 19, 2008). Sheetz noted that is proposing to locate a new store on the northwest corner of the intersection of Fairchild Avenue and North Mantua Street. Sheetz intends to acquire all of the property on that intersection reaching west to the public alley and north to the H-W Industries property line.
The store itself will consist of a new 4,997 square foot building sitting near the west property line of the site facing North Mantua Street. Six gas pump islands covered by a canopy will sit between the new store and North Mantua Street. Driveways will be provided onto both North Mantua Street and Fairchild Avenue. The driveway on North Mantua Street will be limited so that no left turns in or out of that driveway are permitted. A total of 33 parking spaces will be provided on the site.
During the Planning Commission meeting on August 19, 2008, the Commission heard a presentation by the project representatives for Sheetz. After the Sheetz presentation, the Planning Commission held a public hearing to take public comment on the project. Some nearby residents and business owners expressed opposition to the project in general.
There were also recommendations from the public suggesting that more landscaping be added to the site and that the Commission evaluate the project further for potential noise from the speakers used at the pumps and possibly changing the color scheme for the canopy over the pumps.
There is a gas company building adjacent the site in which gas equipment sits and it is being proposed to remain as is with Sheetz building adjacent to it. It actually sits on its own small lot and Sheetz is not purchasing it.
There is also a public alley behind the property and as a public alley it can be used by Sheetz customers. Our Planning Director advises that as much as we might want to minimize its use, we can’t prevent it. Access must remain open, however, very early in the discussions with Sheetz, we advised them of our concern that people may want to use the alley as a short cut.
If you haven’t been back there the alley is very substandard. To this end, and in an attempt allow any alley traffic to flow in coordination with the Sheetz traffic, we asked Sheetz to design an interface with the alley that would discourage its use by gas station customers. They have provided such and it has been through staff review. The property west of the alley on Fairchild does use the alley for access. I could see the day where the City may have to make some improvements to the alley. Vacating it is an alternative but at this point it does not seem to be advisable.
The Planning Commission, at the request of Sheetz, did not take action on the project and will continue its review of the project at its next meeting on September 2, 2008. As currently designed, the project also requires several zoning variances and Sheetz will have to appear separately in front of the Board of Zoning Appeals to have their request for the variances heard. At this point in time, no date has been set for the project’s appearance before the Board of Zoning Appeals.
This is not a project that will be reviewed by City Council – it stays in the hands of the Kent citizens appointed to the respect Commissions and Boards. City staff have had a number of technical review meetings where we spent a fair amount of time addressing the scale issues, traffic circulation, and neighborhood impacts. Again, staff has an advisory role but in the end it will be up to the respective citizen boards to make the decision.
I have always found Sheetz to be a good corporate neighbor and I think thus far they have tried to modify their standard building to be a better fit with the proposed neighborhood location. Have they gone far enough? That will be up to the citizens to decide. But it is important to keep in mind that they anticipate this store to bring between 40 and 50 new jobs to Kent and while those are not necessarily high-end salaries, every new job counts and I don’t want to dismiss the value of any new jobs to our tax base.
Here’s some of the images to give you another prospective of the proposal
Standard Sheetz Store
Modifed Kent Sheetz Store and Ground Mounted Sign
Sheetz Site Plan (existing conditions)
Sheetz Site Plan (new bridge configuration)
If you have comments on this project we encourage the public to address their concerns directly to the Commissioner’s in writing or through our Planning Department rather than to them individually. This helps them avoid ex-parte communications which can be problematic if there is some type of legal action filed after their decision is made.