Developer to take downtown proposal to public

September 07, 1995|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,Sun Staff Writer

A Westminster businessman who wants to build a gas station and small grocery store on an historic downtown property will take the unusual step of presenting his case directly to the public tonight.

Stanley H. "Jack" Tevis III, president of Tevis Oil Co., is to outline his plans for the former Farmers Supply Co. Inc. property at a 7 p.m. public meeting at the site. The property, at Liberty and Green streets, includes a stone building at 12-14 Liberty St.

Mr. Tevis was reluctant to discuss his plans publicly yesterday. But he said he took a full-page advertisement in the Carroll County Times, knocked on doors to talk to neighborhood residents and scheduled the public meeting because he wanted to be sure people understood his plans.

"I wanted people to see what our idea is, and maybe it would be a better fit," he said.

His plan calls for gasoline pumps and a grocery store that will house a Subway sandwich franchise, an ice cream franchise and additional shops. Mr. Tevis owns Jiffy Mart convenience stores in the county, but he said the downtown Westminster store would have a larger produce and grocery section and would not bear the Jiffy Mart name.

The Westminster City Council is to conduct a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall on proposed zoning changes that would eliminate some uses from the central business district, including gas stations.

Even if the City Council decides not to eliminate gas stations from downtown, the use would still require a special exception. That means anyone wanting to build one would need zoning appeals board approval after a public hearing.

The layout shown in Mr. Tevis' advertisement would require razing the historic stone building at 12-14 Liberty St. and the Farmers Supply building to the south.

Architect Dean R. Camlin, chairman of the Westminster Historic District Commission, said Mr. Tevis did not involve the commission in the Liberty Street design. Mr. Tevis had worked with the commission in designing a service station and Subway shop at Carroll and West Main streets, which was approved.

If the Liberty Street proposal is approved, Mr. Tevis said he would not pursue the Carroll Street project.

In the newspaper advertisement, Mr. Tevis said his company thinks the Liberty Street location is better for the business and for the city and said he would offer the Carroll Street parcel to the city, or an entity designated as a developer by the city, at "below our cost."

Mr. Camlin said that when Mr. Tevis showed him the proposal for the Farmers Supply property, "I told Jack I thought that [stone] building could be relatively easily adapted to his convenience store use."

The stone building and surrounding barns, part of the B. F. Shriver Co. cannery, are examples of early commercial and industrial buildings. Mr. Camlin said the stone building earned an "A" rating with the National Historic Register District for Westminster, meaning it is considered a significant historic building.

The Farmers Supply building is an example of a commercial building designed by Raymond Loewy, a pioneer in industrial design who also designed the bright yellow Shell Oil Co. logo still used today.

Mr. Tevis declined to say how much he paid for the property. But Farmers Supply stockholders had been asking $595,000.

The Greater Westminster Development Corp., an organization of local business people, favors most of the city's proposed zoning changes. But the corporation would like to see gasoline stations, package goods stores and entertainment centers permitted as special exceptions in the central business district.

Mr. Tevis is on the corporation executive committee, but did not attend the meeting at which the group took a stand on the zoning changes or participate in the decision, said James H. Dulany, the president.

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