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Group says selling gas prohibited at proposed Sheetz site

December 01, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- A group seeking to bar the construction of a new Sheetz in Williamsport filed a memorandum in Washington County Circuit Court last week arguing that selling gasoline is expressly prohibited on the site in question.

The group of 45 Williamsport residents and property owners is appealing a decision by the Williamsport Board of Zoning Appeals to grant a special zoning exception to allow Bowman Development Corp. to build a new, larger Sheetz at the corner of Potomac and Artizan streets, across from the current one.

In the memorandum, submitted Wednesday, the appellants' attorney, William C. Wantz, points to a section of the town's zoning ordinance that designates the retail sale of petroleum products as "not permitted" in areas with "town center" zoning classification, including the proposed Sheetz site.

"The Board exceeded its authority and erred as a matter of law in granting a special exception which would allow a use which is expressly prohibited in the ordinance," Wantz wrote in the memorandum.

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Williamsport's zoning administrator, Richard Grimm, said the zoning appeals board did not consider that section in its decision because it is in a portion of the ordinance governing manufacturing and industrial uses.

Instead, the board considered the section governing retail uses, which permits convenience stores in the town center district and allows for miscellaneous uses "substantially similar in character and impact to uses ordinarily permitted by this ordinance" by special exception, Grimm said.

Because the ordinance was written before the advent of the convenience store-gas station combination, the board granted a special exception to allow the sale of gasoline as a convenience-type activity, Grimm said.

Service stations are expressly prohibited in the town center district, but Grimm said the Sheetz would not be considered a "service station" because it is not a full-service garage.

Travis W. Poole, the attorney representing Sheetz and Bowman, said he received the appellants' memorandum and would submit a response within 30 days.

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