Last hurdle for Sheetz proposal

John Hitch

Residents make last plead against chain

The proposed Sheetz at the northwest corner of North Mantua Street and Fairchild Avenue goes up against the Kent Board of Zoning Appeals at 7 p.m today.

The design asks for four variances from code on its prospective 4,997-square-foot gas station and convenience store.

“We’re only asking for minor variances that are reasonable,” Sheetz attorney Stephen Funk said. “The issues are fairly straightforward.”

The variances are for signage, a higher fence and an increased setback allowance.

The Pennsylvania-based chain, which will replace an auto shop, art gallery and some apartments, has ignited local unrest. At the Planning Commission meeting early last month, two dozen residents, most who live near the site, spoke out about the company trying to enter their neighborhood. They will have that same opportunity tonight. Anyone wishing to speak will have three minutes before the board.

Jeff Farmer, who lives near the proposed site, has been one of the most proactive opponents of the proposal. He said he takes exception to big business infringing on his “small town atmosphere.”

Through research of the Kent City Codified Ordinances planning and zoning code, along with the Sheetz plans, Farmer found something he hopes will impede the site approval. Because the gas station will front two streets, the code cites that “the driveways shall be located as far from the street intersections as is practical.”

Farmer stated his argument in a letter given to the Planning Commission: “Sheetz, then, to meet code, must either redesign the site plan to include ingress/egress no closer than 30 feet to any intersection, while staying as far away as practical from the intersections.”

Farmer believes that the large, busy gas station does not belong in his quaint neighborhood and will prevent people from wanting to move in to the area.

“Anything I can do to shrink it, or stop it,” Farmer said.

Funk said he was unaware of this letter.

Farmer wouldn’t rule out ever going to the new Sheetz, but doubted it that would happen in the first few weeks or even the first year.

Contact public affairs reporter John Hitch at [email protected].