The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 27, 2013

Board OKs CVS plans

David Hurst

JOHNSTOWN — A national pharmacy chain could find a home in Richland Township next year.

Richland Township’s zoning board approved a variance request Tuesday allowing a developer’s plans to build a CVS Pharmacy alongside Scalp Avenue to clear the first of several hurdles.

Rhode Island-based CVS is the nation’s second-largest drugstore retailer. According to the company’s website, CVS operates more than 7,000 stores nationwide, including one in Somerset County. But this would be the first in Cambria County.

Richland’s zoning board reviewed plans this week showing a 13,200-square-foot pharmacy with a single drive-through and parking for 67 vehicles on a property anchored for decades by the Jolly Roger restaurant.

The location is currently occupied by the Hong Kong Buffet, whose owners or management did not return calls for comment this week.

The CVS project’s EADS engineers indicated the project would get underway after the current restaurant lease expires and that the pharmacy would offer medical supplies, groceries and cosmetics, as well as seasonal items, toys and a photo lab.

“It’s going to have all of the items you’d usually find at a CVS,” EADS engineer Donald Hultberg said.

If all goes well, crews would demolish the current restaurant building and put a new building in its place.

Richland’s zoning board approval allows CVS developers to expand a green space between the store’s lot and Scalp Avenue, where a 10-foot buffer is required. As designed, the store would not meet the 10-foot requirement but would bring it closer to compliance than the current layout, zoning Chairman William Patrick said.

Hultberg said a PennDOT traffic assessment is currently being completed for vehicle access into the lot.

Richland Township resident Clair Barker, one of just a few residents who attended the zoning hearing, praised the project after the board gave it unanimous approval. Barker said his Frances Street home sits behind the planned development and the new store will mean “more competition” among local retailers.

“It’s a good thing,” he added. “It’ll brighten up that area a little better than it is now.”

The group plans to submit design plans for approval to Richland’s planning commission in the coming weeks. It’s a required step before a building permit could be issued for work to begin.

“It’s going to be a six-month project,” Hultberg said. “If we start in the spring, it will be complete by fall.”

David Hurst covers Richland Township for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @tddavidhurst.