STRASBURG — The Planning Commission has unanimously recommended approval of renovations to an existing site and gas station building at 294-328 Front Royal Road and will forward its recommendation to the Town Council.
The site will include a new convenience store and cafe alongside an existing car repair shop run by William Keeler of Keeler’s Auto Service and Tire. The businesses will be across the street from the Stony Pointe residential development.
No architectural improvements are planned for the auto and repair shop. The new convenience store and gas station will make use of an existing building that was previously a gas station that included some convenience store retail inside.
Landowner Alan Omar, of Alexandria, said he plans a store with a kitchen, indoor seating, specialty coffee, soft drinks, salads and other food. The store will have Wi-Fi access and space for hosting meetings.
Town Councilwoman Kim Bishop, who attended the meeting as a citizen, compared the concept plan to that of Throx Market, at 1016 Millwood Pike, east of Winchester. Omar agreed that people familiar with Throx could notice similarities.
The store will also offer retail space similar to that of a Sheetz or WaWa, said Planning & Zoning Administrator Lee Pambid.
Speaking at a Tuesday night public hearing, Bob Robinson, president of the Stony Pointe Homeowners Association, said he was all for the project.
“I think it’s a great idea,” he said, adding that he was speaking as only one of 94 residents in the community.
“What’s there now is deplorable,” he said of the commercial site.
The proposal states that the convenience store will be open less than 24 hours a day, Pambid said.
Chairman Robert Flanagan said he had heard concerns about the business pursuing a liquor license, but explained that license approval is outside the purview of the Planning Commission.
Town Councilwoman Jocelyn Vena, who attended the meeting as a Stony Pointe resident, asked about plans for adding nine new lamp posts to the property.
In answer, David Frank, of developer Pennoni Associates, described the lamp posts as having downcast, shielded lights and being a little lower in height than typical 25-foot-tall lamp posts found in nearby Frederick County.
The lights would have flat lenses, and nearby houses would be shielded from the light, Pambid explained. The lights would have an overall height of 20 feet, he said.
“The lights are on so that you can see at night,” Frank said.
The building will include pre-painted aluminum panel siding in silver or red, with windows facing Signal Knob, and a two-story open terrace on the back side of the building, not along Front Royal Road.
Plans also include on-site paving and sidewalks, stormwater management, a fuel pump canopy and an increased amount of turf grass around the structures.
Prior to construction of the new shops, Pambid said a “proliferation of inoperable vehicles” on the site will need to be removed.
Asked if the project might include adding a crosswalk across Va. 55, from the Stony Pointe community to the new store — and if a sidewalk into town could also be added — Pambid said the developer’s improvements will be limited to what happens on the commercial property.
Town Manager Wyatt Pearson said the addition of crosswalks and/or sidewalks could be part of a future project for the town.
The Planning Commission approved the proposal with two conditions:
- That the plan is revised for all review agencies’ comments and the annotated staff plan prior to final plan approval.
- That all vehicle parking and storage shall be limited to areas that are designed for such use. Areas containing inoperable vehicles shall be subject to the regulations of the Unified Development Ordinance. The purpose for that condition is in regard to any automotive repair happening at the auto repair shop.
Attending the meeting were Chairman Robert Flanagan, commissioners James Massey, Steve Nicholson, Vince Poling and John Rhodes, and Town Council representative Scott Terndrup. Vice-Chairman Hank Dean was absent.