Approvals clear way for new Williamsport Sheetz

July 09, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |

WILLIAMSPORT — Plans for a new Sheetz in Williamsport got a significant boost Monday when the town council agreed to measures that allowed the project to go forward.

It’s been about four years since a developer and Sheetz first proposed building a convenience store at the corner of North Artizan and East Potomac streets. It would replace a smaller Sheetz store across North Artizan Street, next to Byron Memorial Park.

The project has been held up by negotiation and opposition, including a lawsuit by 45 residents.

A Washington County Circuit Court judge and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed the town zoning appeals board’s approval for the project. The Maryland Court of Appeals declined to hear the case.

On Monday, a series of approvals by the town council will let the developer, Bowman 2000 LLC, move ahead.

One was an agreement to abandon a 614-square-foot dead-end alley near the former Red Barron store to be used for the new Sheetz. The council had voted 4-1 in 2008 not to give up the alley.

The council also agreed Monday that portions of Artizan and Potomac streets no longer would be used for parking and can become part of the roadway.

Another alley near the property will switch from two-way traffic to one-way traffic.

Edward Kuczynski, the town’s attorney, said those measures were recommended by the planning commission. If the town council agreed to those changes, the project would get site-plan approval.

The town council also agreed Monday to a land transfer, separate from the site-plan process. Sheetz will cede the property where the current store sits to the town.

Kuczynski said a condition of the land transfer is that the town not allow a business that could be seen as a competitor to use the old site. He gave as examples Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts — “impulse, quick-service-type food things.”

Sheetz has agreed to remove the gas tanks from the old site.

The council voted 5-0 on each measure. Councilman Timothy Fraker was absent.

Assistant Mayor Anthony T. Drury and Councilwoman Joan E. Knode previously were among the 45 petitioners against the project, but neither opposed it Monday.

Drury said before voting that the project is a bad one, but is imminent, so he’s glad the town will get some good out of it, referring to taking possession of the Sheetz property where the current store sits.

Mayor James G. McCleaf II said town officials have batted around a few ideas for how to use the Sheetz property, such as a welcome center, but nothing is concrete.

The measures the town council approved Monday will take effect July 29, when the developer can start moving on the project.

The project will need a demolition permit and a building permit.

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