The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 19, 2013

Company, city jockey over sidewalks, canopies

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

HERMITAGE — Speedway, the gas station and convenience store chain that plans to build in Hermitage, is trying to engage in a little quid pro quo with city officials.

A representative of the engineering firm working for Speedway said the company has made a number of concessions at the request of city officials, and would like one in return.

City Manager Gary P. Hinkson said the city will not budge on the issue Speedway is pushing – to be able to print its full name on canopies over the gas pump islands – but has agreed to take on a project it had asked Speedway to undertake: building a sidewalk off the site along Morefield to Allen Road.

Speedway has not tendered a land development plan for consideration, but has met with city officials about its preliminary plans, including two appearances before Hermitage Planning Commission.

Those discussions have prompted Speedway to change the exterior composition of its building from block to brick; dress up the rear and side facades of the building, which will be seen from Morefield and South Hermitage roads; expand the sidewalk that must be built on its property; and build 75 feet of sidewalk off-site along Morefield, said Dave Hohman, project manager for Pennoni Associates Inc., Pittsburgh.

“They’re doing a very nonstandard facility for Hermitage,” he told the planning commission Monday. “They’re making some customized building changes for Hermitage.”

In return, Speedway wants to be able to print its entire name on the canopies, not just the “S” logo as permitted by city officials.

While no one reacted to the request at the meeting, Hinkson said later that the city ordinance concerning the Route 18 South Overlay District prohibits “signage” on canopies and awnings not on building walls.

“Because the language is clear, there really is no room for negotiation on this,” he said.

However, the city is willing to take over the sidewalk project from Speedway to Allen, at a cost of about $3,000, he said.

Commission member Dr. John Coupland defended city officials’ requests for building and site improvements.

“This is a main turn for our community,” he said. “It will have to be that way.”

Coupland asked whether PennDOT was going to permit Speedway to have a full-service entrance/exit along South Hermitage Road. He said he has concerns about motorists crossing traffic, especially with Burger King and Kohl’s close by.

City Director of Planning and Development Marcia A. Hirschmann said PennDOT officials seem “comfortable” with a full-access drive. Hohman added that PennDOT has asked for a more in-depth traffic study before making a decision on a highway occupancy permit.

Hirschmann said she expects the commission will be asked to make a recommendation on a land development plan at its April meeting.