MIDDLETOWN, Va. — A planned Sheetz Inc. location housed on an 19.5-acre site here is being met with resistance by a coalition who claim the region is "hallowed ground."
In a letter posted by the Exit 302 Smart Coalition, referring to the exit number on Interstate 81, organizer Robert Clark specifically speaks to Pennsylvania residents residing in Blair County and Altoona, where Sheetz's headquarters are located.
"On October 19, 1864, Union and Confederate forces clashed in an all-day battle, in and around Middletown, Va., The Battle of Cedar Creek. The battlefield extends approximately five miles north and south and three to four miles east and west, with northeastern most point on the east side of exit 302," the letter reads. "The 19.5-acre site, although zoned commercial with use as 'by right' is, in completeness, designated as core battlefield by the U.S. National Park Service. The acreage was the location of the of the right flank of the Confederate Army during the Battle of Cedar Creek. Core battlefield is considered an area where the bloodiest fighting occurred."
The Exit 302 Smart Coalition is further asking residents for their assistance in reaching out to Sheetz in an effort to enter good-faith dialogue with the coalition.
The Sheetz store location is planned to be constructed on the eastern side of Interstate 81 just off of Exit 302. An Exxon gas station currently resides in this area, but the community group calls this 2.67-acre parcel "rurally appropriate."
Sheetz Public Relations Manager Nick Ruffner provided a statement to WTAJ saying the company is working with the group to resolve its concerns.
"Sheetz is appreciative of the feedback it has received regarding its proposed location in Middletown, Va. As a family owned and operated company, Sheetz strives to be the best neighbor we can be in every community we serve," Ruffner said. "Representatives of Sheetz have met with the community group to understand their concerns. We look forward to continued dialogue with local officials and the community as the process continues."
The Battle of Cedar Creek was fought on Oct. 19, 1864, when Confederate Major General Jubal Early launched a surprise attack on Union troops that were camped along the east bank of Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah Valley, according to the American Battlefield Trust.
Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc. operates more than 600 stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina.