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Planning Commission OKs Sheetz
Spotsy Planning Commission recommends Sheetz across from historic Massaponax Baptist Church

Date published: 10/4/2012

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

A proposed Sheetz convenience store that would be across U.S. 1 from the historic Massaponax Baptist Church has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The Spotsylvania County Planning Commission unanimously voted Wednesday night to recommend approval of a special-use permit for the store's 14 fueling stations.

The county Board of Supervisors will have the final say on the 6,489-square-foot Sheetz, which would be at the corner of U.S. 1 and Massaponax Church Road. It would be just the second Sheetz in the Fredericksburg region with a drive-through window.

At a public hearing prior to the Planning Commission's vote, two residents expressed concerns about the illuminated red canopies that would be over the gas pumps. They worry it would create a red glow.

"We really, really want to try to maintain the pleasant atmosphere around the church," Caroline Hayden told the Planning Commission. "As you all know, we have many gas stations but we have only one [Massaponax Baptist Church]."

The church was built in 1859 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant met with his commanders at the church in 1864 after the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.

"This is an important location for our county, not only the historic significance but the benefits for our economic development in the area of tourism," said Planning Commissioner Cristine Lynch.

Attorney Patricia Healy, who is representing Sheetz, said the backlit canopies would provide light for customers pumping gas but wouldn't glow outward.

"This lighting is directed downward," she said.

Sheetz did make a couple of concessions.

Company officials agreed to reduce the height of the store's sign two feet, from 14 feet to 12 feet. They also said the canopy pillars would be bronze--instead of the usual red--with brick or stone bases.

The Sheetz would be the second gas station near Massaponax Baptist Church. The other is a FasMart.

Greg Raines, 58, a trustee at Massaponax Baptist Church, said he has no problem with the store's location. The land where it would be currently has a dilapidated building that used to be a gas station, he said.

"This is going to be a tremendous improvement," Raines said of the Sheetz.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
Email: jbranscome@freelancestar.com