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Planning Commission grants variance for new storefront

By Staff | Nov 10, 2010

Proposed blueprint for the Family Dollar project

The Sistersville Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a variance which could allow an engineering firm to develop a vacant lot previously zoned as residential.

Commission Chairman Harold Dally reported to the Sistersville City Council on Monday evening.

Representatives from the engineering firm C.M. LLC, presented the Planning Commission and the residents gathered with diagrams and drawings for the construction of a Family Dollar store on the vacant lot adjacent to the Sistersville IGA and VFW Post 6327.

Though some modifications will be made to accommodate the store, property owner Robert Thaw says no houses will be demolished in the process.

Still, some residents expressed opposition to the Family Dollar project citing the loss of jobs and other businesses as their reason. Others cited issues with the development of the land, including issues that could affect the City’s water system.

The Sistersville Water Board sent a letter to the Planning Commission addressing the issues with the water system. In the letter, Water Board Chairman Allan Maxwell explained, “The main water line serving the area runs east to west directly under the sidewalk on Diamond Street. This line will not bear up under vehicle and/or supply truck traffic in and out of the proposed parking lot. Therefore, replacement and/or relocation of this line will be required.”

Maxwell went on to explain three additional problems with the proposed storefront. “There is a fire hydrant located at the rear of the proposed development. Mr. (Robert) Thaw verbally stated to Mr. (Vance) Ash, City Commissioner, that this hydrant would be removed. In discussing this matter with Sistersville Fire Chief Steve Leasure, he opposes removing this hydrant.”

The following structures are located within a 500-foot radius of the hydrant: Bell Chevrolet, the rear of all businesses from Curby’s to the Old Miller Building, Reliable Supply’s storage building (the old fire house), HPS Pharmacy, State Farm, Koolaid’s Family Pizza, the Winslow residence, Elk’s Lodge, the senior center, Par-Mar, IGA, Herb’s Body Shop and approximately 20 other residences. The line supplying this hydrant would run under the proposed store.

Maxwell said, “Relocation of this hydrant would be the only option.”

Maxwell said he assumed the store would require a sprinkler system as well. “An engineering analysis and flow test will be required on this line to see if flow and pressure will be sufficient to meet West Virginia Fire Code requirements,” he said. “Many years ago this line developed a leak under the railroad tracks. It is our understanding that CSX refused to allow the City to replace the line or required a cash payment larger than the City could afford.”

For this reason, the line was capped off on both sides of the tracks. “This unfortunate decision removed this line from being supplied from the main trunk line that runs down Route 2 and it is now fed from the McCoy Heights service,” Maxwell explained.

Maxwell’s fourth point was in regard to the storm drains. “Based on the drawings published in the Tyler Star News, the proposed store and the parking area comprise .724 acres. During heavy rain in which 1-inch of rain falls, this would dump 19,659 gallons of water into the street and storm drain system,” he said. “We believe the catch basin located near the railroad track already becomes overloaded with the water draining from McCoy Heights. This additional water has the potential to cause flooding problems for the VFW and the IGA.”

Engineering studies will need to be done to determine the storm drain capacity in this area and increase the size if required.

“The above problems will require remediation. It is the Water Board’s position that until we receive written commitments to resolve the problems from the developer and drawings and specifications of such revisions from a licensed engineer, we have no choice but to oppose granting a variance,” Maxwell concluded.

Responsible solely for re-zoning the property, Dally, Barbara Vincent, Carolyn Sterns, and Carman Sillaman granted the variance which could allow for the construction of a storefront in a residential area, as long as issues with the property are resolved.

According to Dally, it’s up to the City Council from this point to work out the details of the agreement and set forth expectations for the scope of the project that will benefit both the City and the developers, though he said the developers were willing to absorb the costs incurred in the resolution of the city’s concerns.

Dally commented, “I feel the Planning Commission made the right decision, but time will tell. I hope all of the details can be worked out and all issues can be resolved so the project can move forward.”

The next step in the process will require C.M. LLC to apply for a building permit,

Construction could begin in the Spring.

Additional storefronts are popping up in Sistersville’s business district as well. Potential, a store which offers unique gifts, opened recently; and the Sistersville Dollar Store & More, an aptly named variety store is slated to open on Dec. 6.

Dally says this is a step in the right direction for the City of Sistersville. “I am happy to see new business in Sistersville. Things appear to be turning around. I’m glad people are stepping up,” Dally said. “These are exciting ventures for Sistersville.”

In other business, Maxwell informed the Council that the water tank project is nearing completion. The new tank, which overlooks the town to the north, has been painted. Maxwell said the crew plans to fill the new tank on Monday, Nov. 15 and take test samples of the water. After the samples clear, the tank will be added to the system.

Maxwell also reported on the relocation of the waterlines servicing the Sistersville Center. These lines were taken down last week during a midnight shirt, relocated and put back in service by 3:30 a.m.

Maxwell said they were pleased with how quickly the project was completed.