New talks on Williamsport Sheetz project
A disputed section of an alley that runs behind the former Red Barron store in Williamsport is near the site of a proposed Sheetz store. The former store is at the left. (By Yvette May, Staff Photographer)
Town officials met last week with representatives of a developer hoping to build a new convenience store, according to Mayor James G. McCleaf II and George Stumbaugh of the town's planning commission.
"It's getting closer," Stumbaugh said.
McCleaf said the most significant issue left to work out probably is traffic.
Bowman 2000 LLC and Sheetz have been trying to get approval to build a Sheetz at the corner of North Artizan and East Potomac streets since 2008.
In July 2008, the town's zoning appeals board voted 2-1 to allow a Sheetz convenience store and gas station.
Greg Martin, the chairman of the zoning board, excused himself from the board at the time so he could testify against the project.
He and other opponents expressed concerns about traffic, noise, pollution and the potential impact on surrounding properties.
However, in giving its approval, the board ruled that the zoning ordinance allows "convenience shopping" in the Town Center and that gas pumps are substantially similar to convenience shopping.
A group of 45 residents — including some town elected officials — petitioned Washington County Circuit Court to overrule the zoning board.
Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III affirmed the board's ruling, writing that it "was reasonable and supported by the rule of substantial evidence."
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals also dismissed the petitioners' challenge. The petitioners' argument that the board of zoning appeals "erroneously interpreted and applied the zoning ordinance" wasn't raised during earlier steps in the process and couldn't be introduced on appeal, the Court of Special Appeals ruled.
Finally, the Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, rejected the petitioners' request to hear the case.
The proposed Sheetz — about 4,000 square feet — would be at the rear of the former Red Barron furniture store property.
It would replace a smaller Sheetz store currently open across North Artizan Street.
In 2008, the Williamsport Town Council voted 4-1 to reject a request to transfer a 614-square-foot dead-end alley near the former Red Barron store to be used for the new Sheetz.
At the time, a Sheetz official said that portion of the alley would help the project, but the new store could be built without it.
The request to transfer the alley resurfaced in 2010.
Clerk/Treasurer Donnie Stotelmyer said last week that the request is still pending.