Liberty Township: Sheetz plans approved for Sawmill Parkway and Seldom Seen Road

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek

The Liberty Township Zoning Commission has approved development plans for a Sheetz location at the southwest corner of Sawmill Parkway and Seldom Seen Road, clearing the way for the convenience store/gas station/restaurant chain to add a site in the township to its expansion into central Ohio.

Sheetz, represented by Frank Petruziello of Columbus-based firm Skilken Gold, representing Sheetz, presented an updated plan during the commission’s Jan. 20 public hearing that attempted to address residents’ concerns about light, noise, traffic and crime.

Sheetz

The 6,000-square-foot location will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Eight area residents addressed their concerns to the board, citing reports of criminal activity at Sheetz locations nationwide and data showing increased crime at 24/7 locations.

Petruziello acknowledged that crimes have occurred at Sheetz locations but they are the result not of the chain but of the area around each location.

“Crime relates not to the store but to the community, and yours is a safe community,” he said. “Patrons will be people (who live in) the community.”

Commission member Joe Karr cited LexisNexis data showing only two petty-theft reports at each of the Circle K and BP locations in the township over the past year, also 24/7 sites.

Township zoning inspector Tracey Mullenhour told commission members the site was rezoned in the late 1990s and that a gas station was one of the approved uses for the parcel.

“Land use is really the only thing we can look at as this board,” commission member Phil Fry said.

“What we can do is make that land use the best we can to fit the community,” commission member Suzanne Vais said.

The plan was approved by a 4-1 vote, with commission member Todd Pomorski casting the dissenting vote. Because the land already was rezoned, Mullenhour said, this decision does not need to go before township trustees for additional approval.

Petruziello added that Sheetz had exceeded the township's expectations in designing a buffer that blocks view of the building, fuel canopy and light fixtures between the store and neighboring condominiums.

"Neighbors then asked us to extend the buffer a few feet north and east, which we did," he said. "This type of commitment is a credit to Sheetz' sensitivity to adjacent uses."

More: Sheetz stores planned throughout central Ohio

The Liberty Township site was not on the list of planned central Ohio locations provided by Sheetz in a Jan. 14 news release.

According to the plan Sheetz had presented to the township in August, construction would start in the first half of this year, with the store opening by year's end.

Sheetz PR manager Nick Ruffner told ThisWeek on Jan. 22 that plans are moving forward, but the timeline isn't quite as certain.

"The project is still in its initial phase," Ruffner said. "Sheetz is excited to be opening a store (near) Powell and looks forward to meeting the community and its new customers."

Skilken Gold spokesperson Audrey Hackman said construction likely would begin in the third quarter of the year, with a projected opening in the second quarter of 2022.

Sheetz announced in that release that its Delaware store – the first in central Ohio – will open April 6 at 710 Sunbury Road.

ThisWeek assistant managing editor Scott Hummel contributed to this story.

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