About 25 residents turned out for the Lovettsville Town Council’s May 12 public hearing on the proposal to install gas pumps at an expanded 7-Eleven store in town.
The new franchise owners applied to the town last year to replace the existing store and to add fuel pumps as part of the expanded operations. The Planning Commission recommended approval of the conditional use permit.
The proposal has sparked controversy, with some residents supporting the plans and others raising concerns about safety and the store’s compatibility with historic downtown area.
The proposal has been reworked in talks with the town staff. The result is called the “homeplate” option. Zoning Administrator Josh Bateman said the new store will be triangular and located near the northwestern tip of the property. There will be landscaping on all sides to screen the eight fuel pumps from Town Square and neighbors. The plans also call for two entrances—the existing one on East Broad Way and a new opening on North Church Street. Other amenities will include a bike rack and a picnic area.
Representing the applicant, Kimberlee Welsh-Hise said the new store would be a big improvement, offering baked goods and fresh prepared foods “tailored to the community.” She said the applicants have tried to achieve an architectural look that will be compatible with the nearby retail center. She said 600 petition signatures have been received.
During last week’s hearing, Bob Cornwell was among the supporters. He said the additional space was needed and urged the town not to put too many restrictions on the applicant. “They’ve complied as best they can,” he said.
Larry Anderson agreed, noting the applicant had done a good job in addressing concerns. “I’m 100 percent in support,” he said.
Concerns over public health implications were expressed. Peggy McElligott said she was worried that fumes from a gas station could be a danger to pregnant women and children.
Former Mayor Elaine Walker had concerns about the project’s impact on the town’s historic district. “That took a lot of time and care to establish,” she said. She also was concerned about gas leakage and spilling.
Former Town Councilman Jack Burden expressed support. “We’ve asked all sorts of questions and got good answers. I do support a larger store and the gas pumps,” he said, adding better landscaping and drainage would improve the look of the property.
The Town Council will discuss the project at a future meeting before making a decision.