Centerville to vote Tuesday on new Sheetz planned for Elsa’s restaurant site

Elsa’s, Sheetz have tentative deal; city staff are recommending approval, with conditions; planning commission members will vote

CENTERVILLE — A plan by Sheetz to build a new gas station/restaurant/convenience store on the site where an Elsa’s Mexican Restaurant has been in business for 42 years is set for a vote by Centerville’s Planning Commission on Tuesday night.

Centerville’s city planning staff recommended approval of Sheetz’s “major site plan” for the 6318 Far Hills Ave. location, with nine conditions, city records show. But the plan has faced some opposition.

Sheetz wants to build a 6,139 square-foot store on the 3.7-acre property. Jason Hemmert, whose family has owned the local Elsa’s chain of restaurants for decades, confirmed months ago that they have a contract to sell the property to Sheetz, if the chain gets city approval.

If the city approves, the Elsa’s restaurant would be demolished and Sheetz would be built on the same site. The store would operate 24 hours a day, include 14 fuel pumps and a drive-through, records show.

Coincidentally, the Altoona, Pa.-based business is seeking planning commission approval for the Centerville site on the same day it’s set to open a Huber Heights franchise.

It also plans to build in Beavercreek, Fairborn, Franklin, Springboro and Vandalia as part of a strategy it announced last year to open about 20 locations in the Dayton area over a five-year period.

The Centerville plan must gain commission approval, plus comply with some administrative requirements before construction can start, said Kate Bostdorff, city communications director.

“Hypothetically, after planning commission makes a final determination,” appeals can be filed, Bostdorff told the Dayton Daily News.

While the city has asked Sheetz to address concerns ranging from lighting to parking and traffic, some neighbors and organizations said earlier the business would be detrimental to the area.

The Rev. Julie Reuning-Scherer, who serves as senior pastor of Epiphany Lutheran Church, said the increased traffic would invite “an accident waiting to happen.”

Bethany Lutheran Village resident the Rev. Larry Hoffsis, who has been associated with Epiphany Lutheran and Graceworks Lutheran Services for nearly 40 years combined, said the plan “would impede and … really hurt the mission of those two great institutions.”

Centerville staff recommended approval for Sheetz with nine conditions, city records show. Among them are more landscaping and parking, a height limit on the outdoor Dumpster, screening for drive-through traffic and other measures to shield nearby properties.

They also require all comments from the public and review agencies to be part of the construction documents. Those documents must also include a plan that complies with city maximum lighting standards, Centerville records show.

Anyone adversely affected by the commission’s decision would have up to 15 days after approval to appeal to city council, Bostdorff said.

A valid appeal would receive a public hearing before city council, which would make a final decision, she added.

Meanwhile Hemmert said months ago that Elsa’s ownership has been actively looking for a new location to continue “Elsa’s South” in the same vicinity.