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Rutter's president says opposition is unusual

June 13, 2004|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, PA.

Scott Hartman, president of Rutter's Farm Stores, said his company usually doesn't get much local opposition when it builds a new gas station/convenience store.

Hartman, grandson of George Rutter, one of three brothers who founded the York, Pa.-based company in 1921, is finding out that Waynesboro is different.

More than 200 residents have signed petitions opposing Rutter's plan to build a 4,200-square-foot gas station in a commercially zoned site at the intersection of Third and South Potomac streets.

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Neighbors have organized Citizens for Sane Development to fight the project. The group's spokesman is Roy Tressler, 58, of 121 W. Third St.

The group's concerns include increased traffic, noise and loitering, safety at the busy South Potomac/Third street intersection, the aesthetics of their neighborhood of Victorian and 19th- and early 20th-century homes and the effect such a busy venture will have on their property values.

Quoting from the borough's zoning ordinance dated Dec. 4, 1991, Tressler said developers must reasonably consider the character and property values of the district where projects will be built and encourage the retention of the borough's historic character.

"We went through the book," Tressler said. "We intend to challenge them on all their exceptions. We feel what we're doing is correct. We're following the democratic process."

"We don't typically get much opposition," Hartman said in a telephone interview Friday. He said he equates the local opposition to a "Wal-Mart mentality where everybody is fighting a Wal-Mart moving in. We are in small towns and along interstates."

Rutter's has three 2,000-square-foot stores in Quincy, Marion and Fayetteville in Franklin County, Hartman said.

According to a company press release, Rutter's companies include Rutter's Farm Stores, which has 51 locations, all in Pennsylvania; Rutter's Dairy, which serves a market from New York to south of Washington, D.C.; and M&G Realty, a real estate holding company.

Hartman said he is miffed at the opposition. Rutter's has been looking for a site in the Waynesboro area for about two years. He said signs point to the borough's commercial business district, which includes the South Potomac Street property. It's zoned for commercial development.

"It's not as if it's contrary to the commercial district," he said. "The site is designated a business district. We didn't expect this opposition."

Not everyone is opposed to a Rutter's at that location, Hartman said.

"We've been getting some letters of support," he said.

Typically, he said, people tend to come around to accepting a facility after it's been around for six months.

Hartman said Rutter's is buying the South Potomac Street property, once the site of the Brake Pontiac-Cadillac dealership, from local developer Ronnie Martin.

The initial design called for a branch bank to be included in the project, but Hartman said plans for the bank have been dropped.

Kevin Grubbs, assistant borough engineer, said the land development plan has been sent back to Rutter's officials for minor revisions. When it comes back, it goes to the Franklin County Planning Commission for review. After that it goes to the borough's planning commission for review.

The planning commission will recommend it for approval or denial and send it to the Borough Council, which could get it in time for its July 21 meeting, Grubbs said. The council has the final say.

Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger cautioned the residents at a meeting last month that if the Rutter's project meets borough zoning and land development regulations, the council has to approve it.

The council's hands are tied by rules in the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code, which governs local council actions, Hamberger said.

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