A Sheetz gas station, convenience store and restaurant could replace the closed Max & Erma's restaurant at 4279 Cemetery Road in Hilliard.

Correction: Because of a reporter's error, a previously published version of this story online and in the July 16 edition of the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News incorrectly said Hilliard City Council had to consider the conditional-use permit for Sheetz. The Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission approved the permit July 9.

A Sheetz gas station, convenience store and restaurant could replace the closed Max & Erma’s restaurant at 4279 Cemetery Road in Hilliard.

Developers still must present a building plan for the proposed Sheetz, but the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission on July 9 approved a conditional-use permit required for the project to advance.

Based on the proceedings, a 6,063-square-foot service station and convenience store is planned for the 1.62-acre site at the southeast corner of Cemetery Road and Parkway Lane.

Sheetz, a family-run company which opened in 1952 and is based in Altoona, Pennsylvania, operates more than 500 stores throughout Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the company’s website.

It is known for made-to-order food and specialty drinks that customers order via touch screens or apps.

Commission members voted 6-1 to approve the conditional-use permit, which will not require further consideration by Hilliard City Council, according to city planner John Talentino.

The Hilliard Board of Zoning Appeals also had to approve several variances associated with landscaping and setbacks, said David Myerholtz, a planning technician for the city.

On July 16, the BZA approved variances that were requirements of the conditional-use permit, Talentino said.

The next step is for the applicant to apply for a building permit, Talentino said. The city would issue a building permit without further consideration by the planning and zoning commission, he said.

Chris Lewie, chairman of the planning and zoning commission, voted against the permit for Sheetz.

Lewie said he did not think another gas station was appropriate at the city’s gateway and that another restaurant similar in nature to Max & Erma’s should occupy the site.

“The gateway should not be defined by fast-food restaurants and gas stations,” Lewie said. “I think we should maintain the site as a sit-down restaurant like the Rusty Bucket (Restaurant & Tavern, at the northwest corner of the Cemetery Road and Britton Parkway).”

Sarah Gold, who represents Skilken Gold Real Estate Development, the applicant and the property’s developer, responded that Sheetz “has roots in the food industry” and will provide a sit-down restaurant at the site that seats up to 30 people.

“We serve fuel as a convenience,” Gold said. “We believe we are providing another restaurant for people to frequent.”

Talentino said the proposed plan is “consistent with the provisions of the zoning code” in his staff report to the commission. The report recommended the commission approve the permit.

Gold told the commission the developer accepts the conditions attached to the approval of the conditional-use permit.

They include providing a bicycle rack, building a sidewalk to Parkway Lane, creating an approved emergency-access plan and other required variances.

Kelly Clodfelder, a staff attorney for Hilliard, asked questions from the public that were posed via Facebook for the July 9 meeting, which was virtual because of the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

One question was about the amount of revenue a Sheetz would generate.

Gold said she could not answer at the time but said the developer and Sheetz were investing about $5 million into the project.

“We’re committed to being here,” Gold said.

Gold said “we are working on a handful” of other Sheetz locations in central Ohio.

Other known locations of interest include northwest Columbus on Bethel Road, Delaware County and Obetz.