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Rezoning request would allow Sheetz near Cavetown

August 03, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

CAVETOWN -- County staffers have asked the Washington County Commissioners to make a decision Tuesday on a rezoning request that would allow a Sheetz gas station and convenience store to be built at the intersection of Md. 64 and Md. 66 near Cavetown.

The developer, Bowman Cavetown LLC, has asked the county to rezone a 3/4-acre parcel at the southwest corner of the intersection from residential to commercial use to allow construction of the Sheetz.

The rezoning has been under consideration since spring of 2008 and has been the subject of three public meetings. The Washington County Planning Commission held a public meeting on the rezoning request April 21, 2008, and the county commissioners held public hearings on May 19, 2008, and June 15 of this year.

Several nearby residents opposed the rezoning request, arguing that a Sheetz is unnecessary and would increase traffic. They also argued the rezoning would lower property values in the area, particularly on Paden Avenue, a residential street that runs behind the site of the proposed Sheetz.

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Representatives of Bowman Development Corp. and Sheetz responded to those concerns in the spring of 2008 by saying they would prohibit left turns onto Paden Avenue, preventing traffic from Sheetz from entering the residential area.

An attorney for the developer said then that the neighborhood has changed since the property was zoned residential, noting that the other three corners of the intersection include an AC&T gas station, Cavetown Liquors and Cavetown Storage.

In May 2008, the planning commission voted to recommend approval of the rezoning request, though some members expressed concerns about how a Sheetz would affect residents on Paden Avenue.

The county commissioners were scheduled to vote on the rezoning request in August 2008, but the item was pulled from their agenda at the last minute at the developer's request.

Matthew C. Donegan, manager of new business development for Bowman Development, said Monday that plans for the Sheetz have not changed since last year.

If approved, Bowman would build the gas station and convenience store, and lease them to Sheetz, Donegan said. The companies have in mind a 5,000-square-foot store, which is comparable to the Sheetz at Huyetts Crossroads, he said.

"I think if you look at the intersection of 64 and 66, and the volume of traffic, plus the population growth in Smithsburg, that area begs for more retail services such as Sheetz," Donegan said.

Jill Baker, senior planner for the county, said she would ask the commissioners Tuesday to reach a consensus on whether to grant or deny the rezoning. County attorneys will then develop that opinion into a written decision for the commissioners to formally approve at a future meeting, Baker said.

The rezoning would not mean a full green light for the project. In order for a Sheetz to be built, a site plan detailing the layout of the property would also have to be approved by the planning commission.


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