Public Hearing for Rutter’s Store Held, Written Comments Accepted Until August 16th 

A public hearing for the proposed Rutter’s Store on Sabbath rest Road and East Pleasant Valley Boulevard was held August 4th. The hearing was to accept testimony regarding the company’s application for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The permit is intended to assure that water quality impacts of the project are within the law. Eight individuals representing themselves and several organization spoke during the comment period. DEP also gave an overview of the project and the NPDES permit review process. Written comments, by the way, will be accepted through August 16th. About 75 people attended the hearing and a summary of their comments follow.

  • High Quality Waters – Sandy Run and the adjacent wetlands are not just any waterway, but includes Exceptional Quality Wetlands and hosts a High Quality Cold Water Fishery. (Among other things, that means it supports cold water species like trout). It was noted that considerable investments have been made by government and non-profits to restore and protect Sandy Run and the Little Juniata and they would hate to see those efforts undermined.
  • Thermal Pollution and Fishery Impacts – Large developments with buildings and dark pavement tend to produce very warm water through much of the year and this will cause thermal pollution of the water downstream from the store and its massive parking area.
  • Impacts on Bird Populations & Habitat – Beyond the water-based fauna, it was also noted that the birds in the Sandy Run and nearby areas would likely be impacted if the project did not minimize thermal and other water degradation.
  • The Karst Geology of the site, which includes much somewhat cavernous and sinkhole-prone limestone, was a concern. Groundwater can move through it quickly and sinkholes can occur when cavernous areas collapse.
  • Underground Storage Tanks – Leaks of underground storage tanks (UST) was an additional concern and the fast-moving water of limestone karst geology raises that concern to an even higher level. Unlike the natural filtration abilities of rocks like sandstone, pollutants move quickly through limestone potentially allowing petroleum-based products in the storage tanks to move quickly toward Sandy Run.
  • Caution or Permit Denial – Most speakers urged a cautious and prudent approach to the development, but two requested outright denial of the NPDES permit, citing the unsuitable nature of the site for such large-scale stormwater generation.
  • A Smaller Footprint of the project was also suggested, one speaker noting that plans called for 14 football field’s-worth of pavement. This would reduce the massive cut and fill that the current proposal would require and reduce the generation of warmer water that could degrade water quality and temperature.
  • Project Description – Related to that, one speaker also noted that Rutter’s description of the project as a “convenience store” was inaccurate. The number of truck parking spaces made it a “truck stop” he contended. (There are 53 truck spaces in their proposal.)
  • Crime – Though these were non-water quality issues, one speaker noted that the other impacts of the store/truck stop were noteworthy. Convenience Stores and Truck Stops were the 4th and 8th most crime prone categories in the FBI’s crime statistics and there was concern that the state police would struggle to address such increases.

DEP did not respond to comments at the meeting. They will prepare a comment response document and share it with attendees and other stakeholders and commenters. They will accept comments until August 16th via email at