Sheetz-CVS passes another test in Harrison
Obtaining needed variances for the Sheetz-CVS development in Harrison proved to be no problem Wednesday.
The Harrison Township Zoning Hearing Board unanimously approved all nine variances sought for the development, which is targeted for the site of the former Heights Elementary School and several nearby houses along Freeport Road.
Next up for CVS, the pharmacy chain, and Sheetz, the gas station/convenience store operator, will be approval of the development's site plan by the township's planning commission.
David Mastrostefano, the engineering permits manager for Sheetz, said that should take place in June.
Michael Witherel, zoning board solicitor, told the audience of about 25 people that the companies were seeking “dimensional variances” related to the lot size and the zoning requirements. He said the commercial use of the property is legal since the township commissioners approved rezoning the property from residential to B-1 business.CVS requested five variances, and Sheetz was seeking four.
All of Sheetz variances dealt with encroachment on the 50-foot front setback or the 25-foot rear setback required by the ordinance. The 6,500-square-foot store itself does not violate the setback distances.
However, the canopy that will shelter the fuel-pumping stations, the canopy for the drive-thru food-ordering station, the vent path for the underground gas tanks and the location of the air-pumping station each encroached on the setbacks from 10 feet to as much as 30 feet. Jonathan Garczewski, the project manager for Sheetz, said the variance requests were necessitated by the location of the gas pumps, drive-thru canopy, air station and vent path.
He said they are placed on the site to minimize the impact of traffic, lighting and noise on residents.“It sounds like you could build this development without these variances but it would create more of a hardship for the neighborhood?” Adam Jonczak, zoning board chairman, asked Garczewski.
“That is correct,” Garczewski replied.
CVS representatives John Gallagher and Don Black said three of the variances were related to setbacks. The 11,900-square-foot store will overlap into the 50-foot setback on Oregon Avenue by about 7 feet and the store's Dumpster and trash compactor would infringe on the setback by similar distances.
The other two variances sought dealt with the retaining wall to be built on Oregon and Warner Alley and required interior landscaping on the parking lot.
The wall, because of site grading, will surpass the maximum height by about 3 feet in some places.
Black said that if 5 percent of the lot were landscaped as the ordinance mandates, it would interfere with trucks being able to access the lot. What CVS proposed was adding that landscaping to the perimeter landscaping to provide more of a buffer.
Several residents who asked questions of company representatives seemed satisfied with the answers.“I believe that Sheetz is doing everything to make it as good as possible for the neighborhood,” Jonczak said.
After the hearing, several residents said their main concern was preventing extra traffic from coming into the neighborhood.
That's something they intend to discuss with the stores and site developer RBG Development in the site development plan approval process.
As for the zoning board's actions, resident Chris Calligan said, “I think all of us believe for the most part that it was reasonable.”
“It's a delicate process but obviously I'm pleased wit the outcome,” said Dale Greco of RBG.
“Over the last six months we've made a great deal of progress with both the Sheetz and CVS plans, especially with the neighborhood,” he said. “There's still obviously a lot of work to do.”
Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.