Neighbors can shape Sheetz in Clayton

April 25, 2014 

As they considered whether to allow a Sheetz at Rose Street and U.S. 70 Business, Clayton leaders heard a suggestion that sounded tempting, at least to us, at least briefly.

Joel Mercer of Tulip Street said he and his neighbors along 70 Business had accepted that their homes would one day give way to commercial development. But he suggested the council not allow Sheetz to build until surrounding properties had been sold or rezoned. That would “promote uniform expansion of commercial zoning” along that stretch of U.S. 70 Business, Mr. Mercer said,

We’ll confess to finding the suggestion appealing because it would assure that Mercer and his neighbors did not live next to a house one day and a 24/7, brightly lit convenience store the next. It would also allow Clayton planners to ensure uniform development when so much of U.S. 70 Business is haphazard.

But the Town Council declined Mr. Mercer’s suggestion, razing one barrier to Sheetz by rezoning residential land for commercial use. Ultimately, that was the right call, because we don’t know that Sheetz, which is ready to buy and build, should have to wait on others to do business in Clayton.

Sheetz faces one more hurdle, a special-use permit, though we suspect that won’t be hard to come by. First, the town’s long-range land-use plan calls for commercial zoning along that stretch of U.S. 70 Business. Second, Sheetz will boost Clayton’s tax base and sales-tax receipts while creating jobs for Clayton residents and buying water, sewer and electricity from the town. In other words, the town has a considerable financial stake in welcoming Sheetz to Clayton, so expect it to happen.

But that doesn’t mean Mr. Mercer and his remaining residential neighbors are powerless to influence how Sheetz does business in the neighborhood. In issuing a special-use permit, the council can require Sheetz to be a good neighbor by, among other things, planting a buffer that will screen houses from the store. Residential neighbors should make it a point to make their wishes known during a community meeting the town will hold this summer.

We suspect homeowners will find a receptive council because councilmen are about to ask residents to do what their elected leaders don’t, which is live next door to a store that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Council members rezoned the land; now it’s up to them to protect homeowners.

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