After hundreds of residents came to hear their neighbors grill Rutter’s for more than 90 minutes Monday night, the Manheim Township Zoning Hearing Board denied all zoning requests by the company for a new convenience store.
Board members David Wood, James Stephens and David Beyer (members Matthew Wolf and Greg Strausser were absent) voted to deny all seven variances sought by M&G Realty, the real estate arm of Rutter’s, which included a store size more than twice as big as the maximum allowed in the township’s zoning ordinance.
At the end of the 2½-hour hearing, the weary crowd applauded the board following the vote.
At its fullest, about 200 residents packed the Morgan Program Center at Manheim Township Public Library.
Rutter’s sought to build a new, 9,300-square-foot Rutter’s convenience store on Oregon Pike. Shane Rohrbaugh, an attorney with M&G Realty, acknowledged the proposed size of the store was even larger than what was previously proposed (8,835 square feet). He said the original number was a mistake.
M&G Realty gave no indication Monday whether it would appeal the ruling.
While not all 18 people who spoke during the public comment period were against a convenience store, all were opposed to at least some of the variances desired by the company.
For more than an hour, residents raised concerns about the proposed store worsening traffic to the site, primarily on Oregon Pike (Route 272).
“Rutter’s says they didn’t create the traffic on Oregon Pike,” resident Andy Benko said. “While that may be true, it will make traffic congestion much, much worse.”
Benko warned of negative consequences for the community if the variances were approved. “Our already-diminished quality of life will continue to deteriorate,” he said.
Others raised similar concerns with respect to traffic, as well as noise, air and light pollution. Many felt the mere presence of diesel pumps and newfound parking for semitrailers would attract more trucks on Route 272.
“This belongs in highways ... not in the middle of neighborhoods,” resident Michael Gibeault said to thunderous applause.
The Rutter’s would have been the first in Manheim Township. It was proposed along Oregon Pike and East Roseville Road and would replace the former Stauffers of Kissel Hill grocery store and Roseville Tavern restaurant buildings currently at the site.
Rutter’s sought seven zoning variances, including a convenience store more than twice the maximum 4,000 square feet allowed under the township zoning ordinance. It also sought 66 parking spaces, well below the 101 needed for a building that size.
In its application, Rutter’s requested wider driveways and nearly 20-foot fueling canopies to accommodate the increased turning radius and height of commercial trucks like semi-trailers.
Zoning board Chairman Dave Wood asked Rohrbaugh what the truck traffic was at other Rutter’s stores. Rohrbaugh declined to say but added the truck fuel sales would be a “minuscule” part of the business there.
Residents harped on the quote, saying Rutter’s should abandon its efforts to build what many characterized as a “truck stop” if it wasn’t crucial to the store.
Resident Kathy Dillon pressed Rutter’s representatives to say whether they would seek video gaming terminals at the site. Rohrbaugh continually informed her that the township had opted out of allowing such machines in the area.
When pressed by Dillon and others, Rohrbaugh acknowledged Rutter’s would seek the machines in places where they were no longer outlawed.