Rutter’s Farm Store, a convenience store providing food and fuel, plans to move into Walkersville. Representatives from Rutter’s presented plans at the Town of Walkersville’s Planning Commission Public Hearings the past two months. They have not submitted site plans for approval, but concepts for feedback from the Town.
The proposed store would be Rutter’s Farm Store’s only Maryland location. The closest stores to Walkersville are over thirty miles away in Waynesboro and Hanover, Pennsylvania.
Rutter’s Farm Store states on its web site that it offers, “Fresh made food prepared just the way you like.” Their proposed Walkersville store will offer gasoline, diesel, and high-speed diesel.
Long ago, Walkersville was home to an Exxon station at the intersection of Glade Boulevard and Maryland Route 194. The site exists now only as an eyesore, and source of frustration for many residents. The old building frequently becomes the target of graffiti “artists” and the doors are often unsecured. Squatters, drugs, and generally bad things take place according to residents. The property has been the center of several discussions in Walkersville’s Town Hall regarding blight and abandoned properties.
That property is owned by the same company that owns Walkers Village Shopping Center. Limited liability companies with the address of Tomarchio Enterprises own several pieces of property that make-up the shopping center and the property proposed for Rutter’s Farm Store.
Several years ago, Tomarchio Enterprises planned to move CVS to a free-standing store on the property. The plan never proceeded beyond discussions with the Town of Walkersville. Much of the negotiations revolved around the Town’s plans to route traffic from Sandstone Drive to the light at Glade Boulevard. Mr. Tomarchio’s plans showed a CVS and another small strip mall on the property.
The plans presented by Rutter’s to the Planning Commission show entrances at the signaled intersection on Maryland 194 and Glade Boulevard and two entrances on Sandstone Drive. Traffic would be permitted along a marked road on the property from Sandstone Drive to Maryland 194. That road would separate the store from two sets of fuel stations. One set of pumps would provide gasoline and diesel. Another set of pumps would offer high-speed diesel.
A majority of Planning Commission members took issue with plans for the first proposed entrance along Sandstone Drive. Commissioners Ray Santullo and David Ennis questioned the ability of trucks to turn into the driveway. Commissioner John Zimmerman and Rutter’s traffic engineer assured them it would not be a problem.
Commissioners also opposed routing truck traffic onto Sandstone Drive for the high-speed diesel pumps. They raised a lot of concerns about residential traffic, a residential street, and back-ups of traffic. The Rutter’s traffic study stated that trucks would be routed to Sandstone Drive. Commissioner Michael Kuster urged the elimination of the Sandstone entrance the high-speed diesel, a widening of the entrance at Maryland 194, and directions for trucks to enter and exit using the signaled intersection. Mr. Kuster questioned the ownership of the road, because he felt the need for the road was to move people from the non-signalized to the signalized intersection. “We want to reduce the number of people using the stop sign and turning across high-speed traffic,” he said. The “cut-through” road will be private, but open to traffic.
Rutter’s representatives were not receptive to the suggestion and noted the difficulty in making truck drivers use a specific exit or entrance. They urged flexibility to meet the needs and desires of their customers. Commissioner David Ennis offered that law enforcement be used to keep trucks off of Sandstone Drive.
Mr. Stephen Stolz, property owner of the home and land behind this property, spoke against the proposal. During part of the discussions earlier in the evening, Commission Chairman Dick Brady asked Rutter’s representatives if they had considered buying Mr. Stolz’s lot or a piece of it to straighten part of the road cutting through their lot. He did not seem interested in selling, nor in having a twenty-four hour convenience store and gas station with so much truck traffic as a neighbor. He worried about noise, lights, and pollution. Mr. Stolz said they already spend a lot of time and money keeping their property clean with just the traffic from 194.
Rutter’s representatives offered to put a fence along their property. They told Planning Commissioners that Rutter’s Farm Stores use only LED lights and their fuel canopies do not glow like Sheetz’s do.
The Planning Commission did not vote on the proposal, but suggested eliminating trucks from Sandstone Drive; Commissioner Gary Baker and John Zimmerman stating they had no problem with the entrance for trucks. They also suggested talking with Mr. Stolz about their plans and addressing his concerns as a neighbor.