By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Hermitage Zoning Hearing Board granted two ordinance variances and a special exception Wednesday supporting a proposed Speedway gas station and convenience store, but a neighbor said the development could cause problems on his property.
Alan Baldarelli of B&B Properties, which owns the property to the north of the land Speedway has an option to buy, did not object to the requests, but said the plan could create safety and economic issues for him.
Speedway LLC of Enon, Ohio, requested a special exception to allow the construction of the gas station at South Hermitage Road, on property currently occupied by Chiccarino’s restaurant and the closed Rex TV building.
Gas stations are allowed in central commercial and the Route 18 South Overlay District as long as criteria concerning gas pump distance from the buildings, exterior storage and other factors are met
Speedway also sought variances allowing it to erect a sign at a height of 7 feet, nine inches - 19 inches above what the overlay district allows - and a building with no customer entrance door facing South Hermitage Road.
The building will be angled so that its rear will face the corner of South Hermitage and Morefield, and the front door will face into the property, toward the gasoline pumps.
Dave Hohman, land development manager for Pennoni Associates Inc., Pittsburgh, the consulting firm representing Speedway, said a lower sign would not impede motorist recognition of the store, but could possibly be obscured by snow.
He also said a lower sign would be without the decorative brick base that would match the store facade.
“They’d rather not reinvent the wheel and have to redesign the sign,” Hohman said.
Baldarelli said the Speedway plan hampers access to all parts of his property. He said he and Jerry Chiccarino have had a gentleman’s agreement that allows his tenants to go onto Chiccarino property to get to the back of the building on the B&B property. That is important for tenant Vantage Home Medical Equipment and Services, he said. Trucks can more safely unload oxygen tanks and other medical equipment from the rear of the building. Speedway’s landscaping will come to the boundary, cutting off vehicular access to the back, Baldarelli said.
Baldarelli added that he does not like that Speedway will build a vehicular connection to his property. He could imagine someone speeding off Speedway property onto his, endangering seniors going to Vantage or children going to Sylvan Learning Center, another B&B tenant.
“I don’t want to lose tenants due to the impact of all of this,” said Baldarelli, the West Middlesex Area School District superintendent.
Hohman said the connection is required by city ordinance. Speedway plans to put a speed bump and stop sign at the boundary to try to control the speeds of vehicles going between properties.
Concerning the access to the rear of B&B ‘s building, Hohman said he will take the issue to Speedway.
Zoning board solicitor Roger R. Shaffer Jr. said the board’s interests are only the specific issues raised in the variance requests. He suggested Baldarelli’s concerns would be more appropriately raised before Hermitage Planning Commission, which will discuss Speedway’s land development plan at 8:30 a.m. Monday.