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Board allows Green Acres Drive entrance for Sheetz

By Bridget May

Despite concerns from parents, a Putnam County board is letting a Sheetz convenience store have an entrance off the Green Acres Drive neighborhood.

The Sheetz, set to go up at the intersection of Green Acres Drive and W.Va. 34 in Teays Valley, calls for a side entrance into a parking lot. Parents are concerned for the safety of their children who catch the school bus at the same spot.

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

Currently, parents say they don't have to worry about children getting on and off the school bus, but Penix said the increased traffic is going to "create havoc in our lives."

Still, the Putnam County Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously agreed Thursday night to grant a special use permit to Sheetz Inc.

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

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.

In response to public outcry, Sheetz 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.

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.

After Thursday night's vote, 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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