Erin Sogal said she could not be happier that Sheetz has suspended its plans to build its signature gas station, convenience store and restaurant in Worthington Hills.

“I think Sheetz removing themselves is phenomenal,” said Sogal, a 30-year Worthington Hills resident who helped lead a local “Stop Sheetz” petition drive. “I think we’re all a little shocked.”

But her enthusiasm comes with a caveat: “I’m a little worried about what’s coming next,” she said.

The Sheetz chain, which is based in Altoona, Pennsylvania, announced Aug. 26 that it would not move forward with development of its proposed location in the Olentangy Valley Centre on the east side of Olentangy River Road/state Route 315 in Sharon Township. The location is north of Interstate 270 and south of the Mount Air community.

The decision was made because of its proximity to an Aqua America aquifer, according to a news release sent Aug. 26 on behalf of the company.

The location “presented a multitude of construction and design challenges,” according to Jennifer Donahoe of the Planit agency, who sent the release.

“While Sheetz adheres to the highest environmental standards and safety regulations, after valued consultation with Aqua America, we have determined that the distance between the planned fuel tanks and Aqua America’s water wells poses some challenges to developing a store location,” Travis Sheetz, president and COO of Sheetz, said in the release. “When my Uncle Bob founded Sheetz in 1952, he instilled important family values into our company including being a good neighbor and connected to the communities we serve. In this situation, the issues raised regarding the community’s water supply were unique and something we took very seriously. We look forward to serving the needs of the community in other locations across Columbus.”

“Aqua is thankful to the leadership at Sheetz that after due diligence and a productive dialogue, they decided to reverse their plans to locate a filling station adjacent to our water treatment plant and wells,” said David Dunn, manager of Aqua’s Franklin County Division. “Protecting source water and the highly sensitive aquifer is key to delivering safe, reliable service to thousands of residents in Franklin County’s Perry and Sharon townships.”

Sheetz opponents had said that a fuel spill at the 24-hour operation could seep into the aquifer-fed Aqua Ohio water treatment plant that serves about 2,500 residents in Worthington Hills, along with Perry Township and Columbus.

“Inevitably, there will be spills,” Jeff La Rue, an Aqua Ohio spokesman, said previously. “We take any threat to the safety of our water supply seriously.”

Opponents also opposed any new truck traffic that brings noise, traffic snarls and potential crime.

“I’m very happy to hear this,” said Laura Kunze, a Sharon Township trustee. “I’m glad they’re doing the right thing. They’re a family-owned business with family values and I feel like they’re applying them here.”

Sogal said she is please with the way the community unified against the Sheetz proposal.

“In all the other years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen such an amazing response to concerns that the community had,” she said. “I think this is something we’ve all been able to get behind. It was the right thing.”

ThisWeek editor Neil Thompson and The Columbus Dispatch reporter Dean Narciso contributed to this story.

 gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary

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Previous story:

By NEIL THOMPSON

Sheetz has suspended development on a proposed location in Worthington Hills because of its proximity to an Aqua America aquifer, according to a news release sent Wednesday evening, Aug. 26, on behalf of the company.

The location "presented a multitude of construction and design challenges," according to Jennifer Donahoe of the Planit agency, who sent the release.

The gas station, convenience store and restaurant would have been at the Olentangy Valley Centre, north of Interstate 270 on Olentangy River Road/state Route 315 in Sharon Township. 

“While Sheetz adheres to the highest environmental standards and safety regulations, after valued consultation with Aqua America, we have determined that the distance between the planned fuel tanks and Aqua America’s water wells poses some challenges to developing a store location,” Travis Sheetz, president and COO of Sheetz, said in the release. “When my Uncle Bob founded Sheetz in 1952, he instilled important family values into our company including being a good neighbor and connected to the communities we serve. In this situation, the issues raised regarding the community’s water supply were unique and something we took very seriously. We look forward to serving the needs of the community in other locations across Columbus.”

“Aqua is thankful to the leadership at Sheetz that after due diligence and a productive dialogue, they decided to reverse their plans to locate a filling station adjacent to our water treatment plant and wells,” said David Dunn, manager of Aqua’s Franklin County Division. “Protecting source water and the highly sensitive aquifer is key to delivering safe, reliable service to thousands of residents in Franklin County's Perry and Sharon townships.”

Sheetz, which has about 40 Ohio locations, per its website, was opposed by neighbors, some of whom created a “Stop Sheetz” website that sought petition signatures opposing it. 

Sheetz opponents also said that a fuel spill at the 24-hour operation could seep into the aquifer-fed Aqua Ohio water treatment plant that serves about 2,500 residents in Worthington Hills, along with Perry Township and Columbus.

“Inevitably, there will be spills,” Jeff La Rue, an Aqua Ohio spokesman, said previously. “We take any threat to the safety of our water supply seriously.”

Opponents also opposed any new truck traffic that brings noise, traffic snarls and potential crime.

The Olentangy Valley Centre is adjacent to the Olentangy Trail bikeway, which Metro Parks has been trying to extend north into Highbanks Metro Park.

The anchor of the shopping center is the Hills Market, an independent grocery store that has been there since 1993. Before that, other grocers owned it since at least the early 1970s.

Currently, the bike path ends alongside Hills, a popular stop for cyclists seeking food or drinks. Hills leases the market from Continental Real Estate, with whom it is negotiating its current lease. 

The Sheetz would have been slightly north and west of Hills.

The Columbus Dispatch reporters Marc Kovac and Dean Narciso contributed to this story.

nthompson@thisweeknews.com

@TWNeilThompson