By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Hermitage Planning Commission recommended approval of a land-development plan for a Speedway gas station, but two members agreed with a neighboring property owner’s complaints about it.
Speedway, a subsidiary of Marathon Oil, wants to build a gas station serving passenger vehicles and large trucks and a convenience store at South Hermitage and Morefield roads.
The company would tear down the Rex TV building and Chiccarino’s restaurant.
At a zoning hearing last week, Alan Baldarelli of B&B Properties raised objections to the plan because it would eliminate a gentlemen’s agreement he has had with Jerry Chiccarino, in which restaurant patrons use B&B property for parking – Chiccarino pays $250 a month for the privilege – and B&B customers can go onto Chiccarino property to access the back of the B&B building.
B&B owns the property to the north and its tenants are Vantage Home Medical Equipment and Services, Hogan’s Heroes, Sylvan Learning Center and United Way of Mercer County.
Baldarelli also objected to Speedway building a driveway connecting the two properties.
He reiterated those objections Monday, although his attorney, Jonathan Solomon, said B&B is not against the Speedway development.
Baldarelli called his issues matters of safety. Even though Speedway said it would put up a speed bump and stop sign to slow its customers entering B&B property, Baldarelli said the efforts would have little effect.
He also argued that having access to the back of his building allows parents to drop off their children at Sylvan Learning Center, and trucks to deliver oxygen tanks and medical equipment at Vantage Home Medical.
City officials said the connection between properties is required in the land development ordinance so motorists do not have to go onto the main roads to move from one property to the next.
Baldarelli, the West Middlesex Area School District superintendent, argued the provision was poorly thought out, robs his property of parking and ultimately will lower his property value.
Levio Baldarelli, Baldarelli’s brother and partner in B&B Properties and owner of B&B Paving, Sharon, said he will put up jersey barriers to block access from Speedway.
“We probably couldn’t do anything about it,” city Director of Planning and Development Marcia A. Hirschmann said of Baldarelli’s intention.
Commission member Dr. John V. Coupland said he understands making a provision for a connection, but not the requirement that the connection be built.
“This is just an invitation to a shortcut,” said Coupland, who was joined by MaryDee Wellman-Donald in opposition to the plan. “I have sympathy with Baldarelli.”
Concerning access to the back of the building, that’s an issue that should be addressed between B&B and Speedway, city officials said.
Alan Baldarelli said Speedway has not responded to him after he sent an e-mail outlining his concerns.
John Skorupan, who works in business development for consulting firm Pennoni Associates Inc., Pittsburgh, which represents Speedway, said he doubts Speedway would allow use of its property by B&B because of liability concerns.
He added that such a use would lessen the amount of green space at the gas station, which could have implications for its stormwater drainage plan.
The Speedway plan cuts down on the amount of impervious surface now at the combined Rex/Chiccarino property, Skorupan said.
“I’m not a big oil company but we live here,” responded Alan Baldarelli.
Outside of B&B’s complaints, Skorupan played up the “hometown feel” of the development, with a brick facade building, cafe seating on a patio and landscaping that exceeds city requirements.
Commission Chairman Charles E. Rogers wasn’t impressed.
“This is the best building Speedway makes?” Rogers asked.
“Yes, it is,” Skorupan said.
“We oughta introduce you to an outside architect,” Rogers said.
Skorupan said the building is “dressed up” from what Speedway usually builds.
“Trees are a blessing to a bad architect,” Rogers responded.
Rogers, Woody Steele, Matt Liburdi, James M. Tamber, Ed Benton and Chester B. “Barney” Scholl Jr. recommended approval of the plan, which now goes to city commissioners.