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Putnam zoning board OKs plans for new Sheetz

By Bridget May

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Tensions ran high at the Putnam County Courthouse Thursday night, as community members gathered to voice their opposition to plans for a new Sheetz gas station that call for a side entrance off Green Acres Drive in Teays Valley.

The Board of Zoning Appeals met to hear evidence from Sheetz Inc. representatives and residents of the Green Acres and White Rock subdivisions, and to decide whether or not to grant a special use permit that will allow the construction of the side entrance into the Sheetz's parking lot via Green Acres Drive.

Sheetz submitted an application for the special permit in June 2011, which was originally rejected by board members because of their concerns regarding child safety, traffic and diminished property values.

The new gas station is set to go up at the intersection of Green Acres Drive and W.Va. 34, and parents are concerned for the safety of their children who catch the school bus at the same spot.

The side entrance would make it easy for traffic headed eastbound on W.Va. 34 to cut into the gas station parking lot via Green Acres Drive to avoid a proposed traffic light at Mount Vernon Road.

"It's a safe haven right now," said Edward Penix, a father of two.

Currently, children are free to play and just be kids when getting on and off the school bus, but Penix said the increased traffic is going to "create havoc in our lives."

In response to public outcry, Sheetz has offered to build a sidewalk and a bus kiosk on the west side of Green Acres Drive to keep schoolchildren off the street and out of harms way.

In a letter to the board, Coordinator of Transportation for Putnam County Schools Charlie Tribble voiced his concerns for the children's safety, but in a subsequent letter he stated that the construction of the sidewalk and kiosk, in the revised site plan, eliminated his concern.

"It certainly seems safest to move them (the children) to a safe sidewalk, provide shelter...," said Sheetz's attorney, Stephen Golder of Jenkins Fenstermaker PLLC.

Golder explained that the revised site plan goes above and beyond what is required of Sheetz Inc.

Though Sheetz has offered to construct the sidewalk and bus shelter, the company does not have the property rights to do so, which concerned board member Al Ruebush.

"We are ignoring safety concerns expressed by Putnam County Schools," he said.

But the board agreed that the construction of the sidewalk and bus shelter was a private legal matter that should not affect its decision to grant the special use permit, and that evidence presented by Golder alleviated their initial concerns.

Members voted, unanimously, to grant the special use permit to Sheetz Inc.

Board Chairman Stephen Sluss stood by the board's decision.

"Sheetz does make a very strong effort to be a good neighbor," he said.

Though disappointed in the board's decision, parent and Green Acres resident Dave Corsaro said, "We do appreciate their effort to mitigate the bus stop issue."

A date has not been set for construction to begin on the new gas station.


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