A concern about increased traffic and potential change in property value brought in a dozen citizens from West Jefferson Monday to the county commissioners’ regular meeting on Monday, July 14.
The resolutions before the commissioners were two recommending changes in zoning on pieces of land near or at the intersection of U.S. Route 40 aka West Broad Street and state Route 142 N.E. at the eastern edge of West Jefferson, from NCD (neighborhood commercial) to C-3 commercial. Before the commissioners voted on the resolutions, they heard from residents.
Turkey Hill is looking into locating a convenience store there along with 10 fuel pumps. No officials for the Lancaster-based firm was present, but a civil engineering firm, P&L Systems, Inc. was present and provided a few bits of information regarding the apparent proposal. The store would comprise 7,000 square feet, the aforementioned fueling stations, but no car wash.
Tom Falco, who lives at 390 state Route 142 N.E., expressed concern about the potential for increased volume of traffic, which would further deteriorate the pavement in front of his home. He said the pavement is already crumbling and an increase in traffic from a convenience store could further exacerbate the road’s condition.
Doris Picken, 310 state Route 142 N.E., was concerned, with the introduction of a convenience store into the area, that property values would decline. She also expressed concern about the possibility of it being a 24/7 operation.
Michael and Linda O’Reilly have lived at 100 state Route 142 N.E. for 37 years and expressed concern over a potential decrease in property values.
“We’re sitting ducks,” O’Reilly said.
Commissioner Paul Gross said no one wants to see property values drop, but there has to be a place for commercial development. He argued if such a business goes in, it will pay in taxes, some of which will be allocated to the local schools. As the school district has more revenue with which to work, it can improve the quality of the education.
When families seek to have their children placed into a good school system, that demand can drive property values upward.
“Our job is to work to find the appropriate balance,” Gross said. “We want to make sure everyone is a good neighbor.”
Officials from the Village of West Jefferson attended and Mayor Darlene Steele said “residents are split” over it. She said concern has been expressed over the potential increase in traffic.
With the approval of the rezoning of the two parcels of land, they will come before the zoning board of appeals, said Dave Hughes of the county zoning office.
He said by zoning the land C-3, everything done on the properties comes under greater scrutiny.
“Everything must go through zoning to get approval,” Hughes said.
Turkey Hill, based in Lancaster, Pa., operates more than 250 convenience store/mini-marts in its home state, Ohio and Indiana and is one of five convenience store brands operated by the Kroger Co. The first store was opened in 1967 in Lancaster by the Frey Brothers.
In other business, the commissioners took time to welcome some 40 children and their teachers to the courthouse. They were on a field trip, a part of the activities of the summer school program there.
The commissioners also signed a resolution opposing the expansion of federal control under the clean water act. The resolution was drawn up and signed in response to the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers releasing a 371-page draft regulation for Definition of Waters of the U.S. under the Clean Water act.
The proposed rule change, if adopted, “will cause significant harm to local farmers, stall the development of business, take control of land use for sustainable food production out of our local providers’ hands and, negatively impact county-owned and maintained infrastructure such as roadside ditches and flood control channels…”
The resolution goes on to state “…It is impractical for the federal government to regulate every ditch, pond, and rain puddle that may have some tenuous connection, miles away, to a body of water currently defined as “navigable.”
Dean Shipley can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1617, or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.