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Planning commission members (L-R) Richard Neefe IV, Helen Pryslak and Rod Ouellette during the Aug. 7 meeting.

COUDERSPORT — The Coudersport Planning Commission voted 2-1 to recommend Sheetz’s plan to build a new store on Peet Street, where Costa’s Food Center currently is, during a special meeting last Wednesday. It now goes before the Coudersport Borough Council. 

The vote came after Sheetz representatives met with their future neighbors — a handful of people who live along Peet Street — and reached a general agreement to address their concerns.

During the last planning commission meeting, residents voiced concerns about music playing all the time, light flooding into their houses, an increased traffic flow that would make it difficult to exit of their driveway and no extra parking space for their guests.

Bob Franks, engineering/permit manager at Sheetz said after a lot of discussion and concerns heard, they revised the plan to include trees and shrubs in the landscape islands between the store and the neighbor’s property. It will be a combination of hedging and plume grass between three and four feet tall, that will block vehicle headlights from shining into the houses.

When Helen Pryslak, planning commission member, asked if the Sheetz representatives had been addressing their concerns satisfactory, one resident said she thought they were doing the best they could under the circumstances.

“I think, also, some of the anger stems from us being an afterthought,” the resident said. “Never were we consulted, saying, ‘Hey, we’re coming in here, let’s address the issues.’” She said the only reason they were addressed was because they voiced their concerns during the last meeting.

“I think – because you are a family-owned company – … something should have been said or done, saying, ‘We’re considering ...’ and we wouldn’t be going through different perimeters,” she said.

Franks said he understood and appreciated her comments.

Pryslak made a motion to approve the plan dependent on approval from LaBella and the disbursement of the signed agreements with the residents. Richard Neefe IV, planning commission member, seconded. Neefe and Pryslak voted yes, Rod Ouellette, the third planning commission member, voted no.

“If I lived there, I wouldn’t want that to happen,” Ouellette told the Potter Leader-Enterprise after the meeting. He said he understood Sheez not wanting to make too many promises to the homeowners and residents of Peet Street so they don’t set a precedent, but he said this was a unique situation.

“It’s a nice, slow street,” he said. Cars going into Costa’s Food Center didn’t go down Peet Street, they just went into the parking lot.

Kyle Smith, real estate counsel for Sheetz, and Franks would not comment on the contents of the agreement with the residents. Smith would only say there would be an agreement made now that the planning commission approved the plan.

Ouellette said the proposed agreement included Sheetz paying for blinds to be installed in the resident’s homes and paying a certain amount to have the houses professionally cleaned when the construction is done, and other items.

This article has been updated to clarify that the Planning Commission only makes recommendations.