Manheim Township zoners unanimously rejected variances Rutter’s sought to build a convenience store on Oregon Pike, but that might not be the end of the story.

Rutter’s could reconfigure and resubmit its plan for the former Stauffers of Kissel Hill site, and it has the right to appeal Monday’s decision, though it isn’t saying yet whether it will.

If it does appeal, it might face an uphill climb.

Rutter’s would need seven variances to build the Manheim Township convenience store for which it outlined plans Monday night, and the township’s zoning hearing board denied all of them.

Chairman David Wood said Tuesday that before granting variances the board needs to see why meeting the requirement is a hardship.

“Rutter's was just simply not able to do that, by their testimony,” he said.

Wood noted that some of the requested variances were minor, but one was not. The store Rutter’s asked to build on Oregon Pike and East Roseville Road was 9,300 square feet — more than twice the maximum size the township’s zoning ordinance allows.

The next step in the process is for the board to issue a written decision, after which Rutter’s has 30 days to appeal.


‘Too soon to comment’

Asked how the company plans to proceed, Rutter’s spokeswoman Sue-Lee Miller said in an email Tuesday, “Because the meeting took place last night, it's too soon to comment on our plans at this time.”

Matt Creme, a partner in the Lancaster law firm Nikolaus & Hohenadel who concentrates his practice in municipal matters, said written decisions must follow a specific form, including findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Generally, he said, variances are supposed to be minor deviations from the ordinance allowed because of physical conditions peculiar to the property or building.

Zoning hearing decisions don’t get appealed much, Creme said, because overturning them requires showing that the board was wrong on the law, applied the wrong standard or abused their discretion, which tends to be difficult to do.

Wood commended Rutter’s for allowing the delay of the hearing, which was rescheduled to a larger location after so many people turned up on the original date last month.

At its peak about 200 people attended the Monday hearing, which lasted about two and a half hours. Many audience members applauded after the vote.