Marla K. Kuhlman
| ThisWeek group
Westerville is closer to having a Sheetz convenience store, drive-thru and fuel station after the Westerville Planning Commission voted unanimously Feb. 24 to favorably recommend legislation to City Council.
Near the end of a five-hour meeting – and after two previous applications were tabled – the commission voted to recommend to Westerville City Council two pieces of legislation that could open the door to a new 6,077-square-foot Sheetz center on 2.9 acres in a planned development district at the northwest corner of Polaris Parkway and Worthington Road by applicant Kareem Amr of Skilken Gold Development LLC.
Sheetz, known for being open 24/7, all year long, is a family-owned and -operated convenience store, restaurant and fuel-sales chain.
Commission members Craig Treneff, Paul Johnson, Brian Schaefer, Steven Munger, Kristine Robbins, Dave Samuelson and Kimberly Sharp voted to favorably recommend to council a preliminary site plan with conditions related to signs, refinement of architecture to staff’s satisfaction, development-text modifications and engineering requirements.
They all also voted favorably for the final development plan, subject to approval of and applicable conditions from council.
Whether to allow a curb cut off Polaris Parkway dominated discussion regarding the application.
Without the access to Polaris Parkway, the project would be a no-go, said Frank Petruziello, president of development for Skilken/Gold Real Estate Development.
“I don’t mean that as a threat,” he said. “I just know we can’t function (without it)” he said.
The proposed development would consist of 1,048 square feet for the restaurant and 5,022 square feet for the retail portion of the building, according to the application.
The proposed development would be accessed through Olde Worthington Court to the north and Polaris Parkway at the most southwestern portion of the property.
Established in 1952, Sheetz is a major Mid-Atlantic restaurant and convenience chain with more than 600 store locations and more than 20,000 employees, according to a fact sheet provided by the business.
Sheetz’ loyal fans, known as “Sheetz Freakz,” visit the store for the company’s vast selection of award-winning made-to-order food and beverages, said the fact sheet.
The planning commission tabled a rezoning request of a 6.9-acre tract from single-family residential to planned-neighborhood district and review of a preliminary development plan and text for a 3-story, 131-unit senior independent housing facility at 360 N. State St. by applicant Matt Canterbury, vice president of Columbus-based Homestead Development. The property is owned by Bean Family Limited Partnership of Westerville.
Robbins said she appreciated the elimination of access off County Line Road and preservation of the historical house on the site.
“It’s still a very dense building,” she said. “I still have concerns related to the trees, the density and the architecture.”
Munger said he’s also struggling a lot with the plan.
“If the size and scale of the building fit, I wouldn’t care how many units you have, but it doesn’t fit,” he said.
Schaefer said he also has concerns about the height and the overall mass of the building.
“It’s going to be hard to envision something like that taking place on that site,” he said.
The commission also tabled a request for a conditional-use permit for a 22,446-square-foot building on 2.2 acres at the southwest corner of Huber Village Boulevard and Eastwind Drive by applicant Bryan Hunt, legal counsel for property owner SRC Properties Ohio LLC.
The current use of the property is for an office building that’s predominantly vacant. The proposed use is for a detoxification and short-term residential substance-use-disorder treatment facility that would be managed and operated by Seacrest Recovery Center Detox of Ohio LLC.
Jared Pruzan, chief financial officer and cofounder of Seacrest Recovery Center, said the business was started six years ago and is in multiple states helping individuals overcome addiction.
He said all incoming patients are screened for legal history, and no patients are accepted who have a violent, criminal history or any sexual misconduct.
“Patients that are coming into our facility will be individuals who are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, which commonly and substantially limits several other major life activities like working, interacting in society or even parenting,” Pruzan said.
Jared Silver, Seacrest chief operating officer, said about 70% of Secrest’s patients are addressing drug addiction and 30% are addicted to alcohol.
“The two main culprits are opiates and alcohol is number two,” he said.
During the public hearing, Summer Spencer, who lives adjacent to the proposed facility and who is the PTO president of Pointview Elementary School, said she’s concerned about the preschool around the corner, the Kindercare facility next door, as well as the park and elementary school that are down the street.
“There are a lot of students that walk alone to and from school,” she said. “There isn’t a lot of parent supervision. It sounds like, based on the description of the facility, that it seems safe for those students (going) back and forth.”
Spencer asked for more information about safety.
“It seems like this facility would be a good thing for our community, but I think I’m with some of the others who are concerned about its location,” she said.
Sharp said there’s acknowledgement among written testimonies from the public that the use of the center would be for people who are from the community.
She asked about the thought process to opening near the Westerville Division of Police’s new justice/court facility that’s being built.
“When we were looking where to put our facility, we spent a few months,” Pruzan said. “We thought the building was a great location. It was centralized to where a lot of the patients were coming from what we’ve seen at our facility in Columbus.”
He said the facility needed close to 20,000 square feet and something close to the current facility at 6555 Busch Blvd, Suite 100, in Columbus.
Pruzan said patients who are going to Seacrest are seeking help.
“They aren’t court-ordered,” he said. “They aren’t coming because they’re dragged.”
Pruzan said the facility would have behavior techs, who are like orderlies.
“Those people are on 24 hours a day, watching over our patients,” he said. “We’re going to ensure the safety of not just the community but (also) our own patients and staff, as well.”
Hunt requested the legislation be tabled to address the police division’s concern regarding use and to provide additional information about programming to help guide the commission’s decision, he said.
In a Feb. 18 memo to the commission, police Chief Charles Chandler explained the division’s objections.
“By definition, in-patient substance abuse rehabilitation centers are occupied by people struggling with addiction,” he wrote. “In our experience, these uses attract additional people struggling with addiction to the area. … For most treatment facilities and even emergency rooms, it is not a question of if you have walk-aways; it is a question of how often.”
Chandler also mentioned the close proximity to a school and a park and that discharged or walk-away clients could walk into adjacent properties while still under the influence or possible “looking for money, transportation, drugs, or other criminal activity.”
The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled March 24.