Three appeals filed opposing Sheetz development in Centerville

Centerville Planning Commission in August approved a major site plan that will allow Sheetz to construct a new gas station/restaurant/convenience store where an Elsa’s Mexican Restaurant has been in business for 42 years.

Now at least three appeals have been made in an effort to stop the 6,139-square-foot store from being built.

Epiphany Lutheran Church and Regis Lekan filed appeals with Centerville City Council Tuesday and Retirement community Bethany Village filed one Wednesday, the city confirmed Friday. The church and retirement community said in separate statements that they plan to attend an upcoming city council meeting to express their strong opposition to the project.

Lekan is a Centerville resident who represents the South Village neighborhood, the city said. He listed 12 other residents as additional applicants, but his name is the only one listed on the actual application.

Both Bethany Village and Epiphany have facilities across from the proposed Sheetz development on Far Hills Avenue, and both expressed concerns at a recent Planning Commission about what they said would be the negative impact of the development.

Those concerns included traffic volume, safety and “development that is inconsistent with the use and character of surrounding properties,” including the church and daycare center, the nursing home and senior living community and an apartment community.

Epiphany has expressed concern over safety issues generated by the proposed 24-hour gas station, convenience store and restaurant, including traffic cutting through its parking lot as a short cut to Loop Road, alcohol, and CBD sales within 500 feet of a school and church, and increased crime, Kathy Whited, Epiphany’s director of operations, said in a release issued Thursday.

Whited pointed to 2020 FBI statistics showing convenience stores as more frequent locations of violent crime than restaurants (the site’s current use).

Both entities cited a traffic study estimating 2,400 vehicles per day at the proposed site, in addition to multiple tanker trucks to refill the 14 gas pumps and delivery trucks for the convenience store and restaurant.

They said such traffic would negatively impact an already crowded thoroughfare and impact emergency response times.

Bethany Village communication and public relations manager Abby Eshbaugh said in a release Thursday that “the 24-hour nature of the business, with fourteen gas pumps, alcohol sales, restaurant, and drive-through could bring increased crime rates near vulnerable populations.”

“This type of business is both misplaced and inconsistent with the residential neighborhood that current residents of Bethany Village expect,” Eshbaugh said.

Both Epiphany and Bethany Village said they do not oppose Sheetz as a company or the expansion of its business, just its location along Far Hills Avenue

Eshbaugh said developing Sheetz at that specific site will negatively impact Bethany Village as “a safe and attractive community for older adults to live and thrive.”

Whited said the developing Sheetz near the church “raises significant questions regarding the safety of vulnerable populations on our campus, including children and older adults, and it will affect the worshipful and restful atmosphere that promotes healing and restoration in an often hurting and chaotic world.”

Centerville will find out Monday on which date the issue goes before city council.

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