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Sheetz to be church's neighbor
Spotsylvania supervisors approve Sheetz across from Massaponax Baptist Church

 Massaponax Baptist Church in Spotsylvania will have a new neighbor across U.S. 1: a Sheetz gas station and convenience store.
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 11/17/2012

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

A Sheetz convenience store will be built on U.S. 1 across from historic Massaponax Baptist Church in Spotsylvania County.

The county Board of Supervisors on Thursday unanimously voted to approve a special-use permit for the store's 14 fueling stations.

The 6,489-square-foot Sheetz will be the second in the Fredericksburg region with a drive-through window.

Greg Raines, a trustee at Massaponax Baptist, spoke in support of the Sheetz application at a public hearing Thursday. The store will be an improvement over the dilapidated former gas station that currently sits on the land, he said.

"It certainly will be a pleasant relief to have something that will have as much quality look to it as it does in the plans," said Raines, the public hearing's only speaker.

At a Planning Commission public hearing last month, two residents expressed concerns over the store's proximity to the church. Still, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of the Sheetz.

It will be the second gas station near Massaponax Baptist. The other is a Fas Mart.

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.

The Sheetz, which doesn't have an opening date, will look a little different from the company's other stores in the area because of its location near a historic site.

The pillars for the gas pump canopies--which will be no more than 20 feet tall--will be bronze instead of the usual red. They will have brick or stone bases.

The company also agreed to reduce the height of the store's sign by 2 feet, from 14 feet to 12 feet.

County staff had initially worried that the store's backlit canopies would glow outward. But the canopy material is more opaque than they originally thought, the staff wrote in a report.

Supervisor Gary Skinner said he thinks the store, which will be open 24/7, will deter vandalism at the church.

"I think it helps protect the Baptist church at night," he said.

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