Starting Oct. 8, customers who frequent the Sheetz store on Perry Highway in McCandless will still be able to get their lottery tickets, a pack of smokes or snacks.
But they will have to find another place to gas up.
The Altoona-based company announced today that it will end gasoline sales at the store “to pursue plans to build a new store located in McCandless,” said Travis Sheetz, executive vice president of operations for the family owned and operated convenience store chain.
“Local ordinances do not allow the operation of two gas stations within 1,500 feet of each other and the move to stop gas sales is required for Sheetz to submit plans for its new store building,” Sheetz said.
By suspending gasoline sales at the current location, Sheetz can now proceed with construction of a new store without violating the town ordinance.
The company did not provide an exact location for where it wants to build but indicated that it likely will be across the street from its current location at the triangular junction of Old Perry Highway and Perry Highway.
“Relocating the store will not only allow Sheetz to construct a new generation building but it will also improve safety at the intersection of Old Perry Highway and Route 19,” Sheetz said, noting that the current store, which has been open for 34 years, is one of the oldest the company operates.
Bruce Betty, the town’s zoning administrator, said Sheetz has submitted preliminary plans that will be discussed at a public hearing during the Oct. 22 town council meeting.
Betty said the company’s plans will have to include measures to lower the impact on surrounding properties such as a buffer zone, fencing, shorter light poles and other features.
The state Dept. of Transportation also will require significant improvements to the intersection, Betty said.
The current location will continue to be open around the clock and year round.
Some residents whose properties border or are in the vicinity of the Perry Highway commercial district successfully delayed Sheetz’s effort to relocate across the street by convincing council to deny the company’s request to change the requirement that two gasoline stations be at least 1,500 feet apart, which would have allowed Sheetz to continue selling gasoline while its new store was being built.
Residents have argued that a larger convenience store and gasoline station closer to their homes will increase their exposure to gasoline and diesel fumes; add more noise, light and traffic congestion; make it more dangerous for children waiting for school buses; lower nearby property values; and generally disturb the tranquility of their neighborhood.
A second attempt to block Sheetz from moving failed.
Last month the owners of several commercially zoned properties across the street from the current Sheetz said they were in negotiations to sell their properties to the company.
At the same time, Councilman Greg Walkauskus tried to keep Sheetz from pursuing those deals by rezoning one of the properties the company needs from commercial to residential.
The councilman argued, among other things, that the change was proper because the property was incorrectly zoned for commercial use and that the house on the parcel has only been used as a residence since it was constructed in 1910.
The effort failed to muster a vote because no other member of council would second Walkauskus’ motion.
One of the property’s owners, Terry Hoge, told council that he did not ask for the change, was not informed that a zoning change was being pursued and did not want it to be approved because it would devalue his property by as much as 75 percent.
Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368 or [email protected] or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.