A Sheetz convenience store is coming to the Bethlehem area, offering a fast, casual restaurant with a drive-through and gas station.
The new store will be placed in a vacant lot at 1720 E. Fourth St. within the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park.
On Oct. 26, the Bethlehem zoning board heard and approved the appeal concerning the construction of the convenience store, which requires a special exception for the use of a gas station with a retail store.
Julie Wagner Burkart, an attorney with Stevens & Lee, presented the appeal case with witness statements from David Smith, a senior real estate agent for Sheetz; Charles Unangst, president at Hanover Engineering; and Bethlehem resident Jeffery Horizontalmore.
“The project will have no impact on the community regarding general criteria, as every new use on vacant land has an impact on the neighbors and on the community,” Burkart said to the board.
Smith said there is only one other Sheetz store in the area that has a drive-through, which is located on Schoenersville Road.
“Our store will serve the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Smith said.
The Sheetz building will be 6,131 by 39 square feet.
Smith said the inside of the store will have 30 seats in the fast, casual restaurant, specialized in made to order food with customizable menus. The retail side will sell a variety of items including snacks, beverages and car maintenance supplies like windshield washer fluid and oil.
Outside operations include a gas-fueling area with six double-sided pumps, a drive-through and 55 parking spots.
Unangst said Hanover Engineering was hired to run through the special exception review and the land development through the City of Bethlehem.
The area where Sheetz will be constructed is currently a vacant parking lot.
“There is a more grassed area,” Unangst said. “We could have expanded this area size, but it is not needed. We had adequate space for all the improvements that were needed.”
Horizontalmore said the neighborhood has been a food desert for the last six or seven years, and the new store will provide a new food source.
“I’m very supportive of this project going forward,” Horizontalmore said at the meeting.
Unlike Horizontalmore, some people, including Easton resident and student Elizabeth Pursell, ‘25, are opposed to the Sheetz development.
“Sheetz is typically large, so I feel like it’s going to take up a lot of space,” Pursell said. “It’s weird just to take up a large space in the middle of a city just for a gas station.”