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Abington Planning Commission Denies Wawa Ordinance

The ordinance still heads to the full board next month.

 

A zoning ordinance amendment filed by Provco Goodman Jenkintown, L.P., which would create a new use in the areas zoned as planned business (PB), will head to the Abington Board of Commissioners next month — without the blessing of the Abington Planning Commission. 

The planning commission, which is an advisory council, voted late last night to reject the amendment by a vote of 5-4. The amendment is linked to the proposed development of a Wawa store and fueling station in the 800 block of Old York Road, near Baeder and Hilltop roads.

Planning commission board members Catherine Gauthier, Ronald Rosen, Charles Carter, Lucy Strackhouse and David Good voted to reject the ordinance.

At the planning commission meeting last month, chairman Ronald Rosen said Bruce Goodman’s plans for the development of the site were aesthetically pleasing, but said he was uncomfortable supporting the ordinance without a traffic study.

Goodman and his team were armed with the traffic study last night, but it didn’t matter. Greg Richardson, an engineer with the firm Traffic Planning and Design, Inc., out of Pottstown, said the proposed development would generate traffic, but would have “no adverse effects” on the roadway network.  

According to the study, 60 percent of the vehicles entering the proposed Wawa would be coming from Old York Road and The Fairway. In addition, two-thirds of those entering the proposed store would already be on the road.

Many residents spoke in opposition of the ordinance, and in essence, the Wawa development plans during the 3-plus hour meeting.

Deborah Pines, of Baeder Road, said the additional traffic generated by the development would cause adverse health effects. Pines added that with the recent development of the L.A. Fitness, she has had trouble exiting her driveway. 

Paul Morse, of Glen Road, disputed Wawa’s claim of being a good steward of the community; he held up photos of overflowing trash receptacles at other Wawa locations. He also said that he wanted local residents to hire an engineer to provide them with an independent traffic study.

Residents Laura McCarthy and Stephen Ferrara were less critical of the actual Wawa, but still opposed the development. Ferrara said he thought the renderings of the proposed Wawa were pleasant enough, but said the ordinance “appeared to be spot zoning.” He went on to say that any commissioner who votes in favor of the ordinance in December would have his or her hopes for re-election affected.

McCarthy said she understands and accepts that she bought a home next to an area that had the potential to be developed, but said she was against the 24/7 aspect of the Wawa.

When Rosen asked Wawa regional spokeswoman Susan Bratton if the site had to be open 24/7, Bratton said, “Absolutely, yes.”

Goodman’s attorney, Michael Savona, said his closing comments while a picture of the current site was shown on the projector. The photo depicted cars for sale on a lot ... and many of them were wearing balloons.

There was a constant murmur coming from the audience while Savona spoke.

“It’s important to keep in perspective that that’s what the property looks like now,” Savona said, pointing to the projector. “It’s in a condition that even the Rydal Civic Association describes as ‘blighted.’ This is a site that needs [to be] redeveloped.  This township knows that, this commission knows that.

“The last two meetings focused on a lot of technical stuff,” he continued. “Residents and neighboring property owners are always inclined to dismiss the technical [aspects] because [they] just want something developed there that [they] approve of. It’s not always possible … if this were an easy site to develop, it wouldn’t look like that. Like it or not ladies, and gentlemen, it can’t be done under the current ordinance.”

The Abington Board of Commissioners will hear the issue at a special meeting Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the township building. 

Kathy Adlam November 25, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Thank you Paula.You are SO right! I live on Hilltop, right behind where they want to put this monstrosity. Trying to get across Baeder Rd or turn left to go left onto OYR, is ridiculous as it is. No one shows any courtesy for those trying to get off Hilltop, as they are trying to make it through the light from hell. This Goodman guy has to be out of his mind to even suggest any more turmoil in this area or he is the greediest jerk in the township. LoL. Let me tell you how I really feel.
Kathy Adlam December 02, 2012 at 04:04 AM
The traffic and congestion is of GREAT concern for this Wawa Project. But your last statement "There is certainly a void that would be filled by the WAWA Fueling Center. It would be a grave mistake for the Township Commissioners to not approve this worthwhile project!" contradicts your "concern" for the traffic, which by the way, will impact from Susquehanna through Jenkintown, which is usually congested anyway. I think it WOULD be a grave mistake for the Commissioners to approve this project. Tell me this, if you lived right there on Hilltop and Harte Roads, how would you feel about this?
Kathy Adlam December 02, 2012 at 04:22 AM
June, this is not hypocrisy. While I agree that what is there right now is an eye-sore, but seriously, a 24/7 WAWA? The traffic that will be caused by this WAWA will be horrendous. It's not just that people don't want WAWA - it's the traffic factor as well as safety. There are constant accidents or near-accidents right there. And your comment about "neighbors want to use someone's property as their private buffer without letting the owner make a decent return on it" is a pretty ignorant remark. Where do you live? Can I open up a WAWA there? Wouldn't you want a "buffer" from a busy business? We dealt with the car dealerships who promised the upkeep of that retainer wall. Guess what? They lied and made it worse. They let it go and took down trees that semi-blocked the York Rd noise. What they took down, they replaced with stupid little bushes during a severe drought summer. Those trees all died even though we tried to water them to keep them alive. It's an atrocity what was done there. That aside, the traffic and congestion is the biggest concern for that area. With the train Station there and the Nursery and whatever stores are across where Barnes & Noble is - OMG. It's a nightmare waiting to happen. This is someone who just wants to line his wallet without any care or regard to the people who have lived in that neighborhood for 60+ years.
B. Wang December 04, 2012 at 03:17 AM
I read the traffic plan and I just don't see how the traffic will work without adding another lane out of Baeder onto Old York to manage the morning congestion, and without making it a 5 way intersection for the cars coming left out of Wawa onto Hilltop (presuming the left only suggestion is accepted) and then northbound on 611. Also, there are commuters who do cross at that light, or run across at that light. Lastly, how does this fit into the plan for the proposed transportation center etc at Noble? This transportation plan may have a very short shelf life. If the proposed Wawa was just a little further north - where the car dealership is, that traffic light at the Fairway would serve it well.
Kathy Adlam December 04, 2012 at 03:49 AM
To B. Wang. There IS no solution to this nightmare, should they decide to go forward. We're talking accidents (both vehicular and pedestrian), MAJOR congestion and heated tempers. This is a nightmare waiting to happen, with the traffic that comes from Baeder Road (which has become a major thoroughfare from Glenside & Cheltenham areas), the traffic headed into Philly and to the Noble train station (not to mention the pedestrians!).... Are you kidding me? OMG. It would make SO MUCH MORE SENSE to have this WAWA where Barnes & Noble is, for easier and SAFER access and exits..... I don't understand what happens to the common sense of the people who propose these crazy ideas. Their argument is that it would generate revenue, but in reality, they will be spending that revenue on more police patrols who will waste their time with accident reports, keeping a watchful eye on activity and directing traffic, rather than patrolling crime areas. Are we really that stupid these days?

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