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Wawa on Hold, For Now

The Abington Planning Commission denies a request for an amendment to the zoning ordinance; it would affect the development of a Wawa in the 800 block of Old York Road.

 

It’s back to the drawing board for Provco Goodman, L.P., the firm looking to develop a Wawa at the now-vacant parcel near the corner of Baeder, Hilltop and Old York roads.

The Abington Planning Commission shot down its request to amend the zoning ordinance for the area that would allow for certain uses including a fuel filling station and fueling signs. The area is currently zoned “PB,” planned business, and Provco Goodman wishes to build a Wawa, replete with 12 gas pumps and a bank on the parcel.

Though the planning commission is just an advisory panel, should the commission have approved the ordinance, it would have gone before the board of commissioners for consideration. 

Planning Commission Chairman Ronald Rosen lauded Bruce Goodman’s plans for the development of the site, saying they were aesthetically pleasing, but said he was uncomfortable approving the ordinance without a formal, independent traffic study.

The applicant will re-apply – with the traffic study in hand – at the November Planning Commission meeting.

Last night's 3 hour-plus meeting was standing-room only. Many residents voiced their opposition to the development. Strangely, many of them liked the idea of having a larger Wawa in the area, but they were turned off by the traffic the development would create in the surrounding neighborhoods. 

During the presentation, Goodman’s attorney, Michael Savona, described the proposed plan. The development would include a Wawa store, 12 gas pumps and a bank or other financial structure near the southern tip of the parcel — closer to the corner of Baeder and Hilltop roads.

“The era of old-fashioned service stations and convenience stores is becoming a thing of the past,” Savona said. “All Wawas are changing to a combined, modern use [and] Abington does not have a use for modern industry in [areas zoned as Planned Business.] This location is right for redevelopment and it’s a perfect location for this type of use.”

Savona said the Abington Economic Development Committee is unanimously in favor of the development and said that he and his client have had extensive talks with PennDOT. 

The development would also include a major redesign of that intersection, including a dedicated traffic light for Hilltop Road traffic.

Traffic looking to leave the Wawa and head north on Old York Road would exit onto Hilltop Road; there would likely be signage restricting vehicles from making a right-hand turn on Hilltop Road. Traffic driving on northbound Old York Road would be able to make a left turn directly into the Wawa.

See the photos.

Abington Police Officer Al Freed said the plans for the intersection redesign were “excellent” and “awesome.” He added that the redesign would eliminate 80 to 90 percent of the complaints he receives regarding that intersection.

A traffic expert representing Provco Goodman said there have been 52 crashes at the intersection of Baeder and Old York roads according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in the past five years. 

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Provco Goodman, L.P. submitted an application to the Abington Zoning Hearing Board for the site late last year, but later withdrew it. The amendment to the zoning ordinance brought before the planning commission last night was completely penned by Provco Goodman, L.P.

Planning commission members John Weggel and James Egbert said the proposed amendment to the ordinance was restrictive to any further development. They specifically pointed to a provision that reads: "Motor Vehicle Fueling Centers must be located on property which is within 800 linear feet of a public rail transportation station.”

See the whole document in the pdf section above.

Weggel called the proposed amendment “spot zoning," and Egbert called it "extremely restrictive." Goodman said he was “not trying to have a monopoly on gas stations.”

Resident and developer Bruce Toll also took issue with some of the provisions in the proposed amendment.

According to Goodman, Toll lost the bid for the property to him.

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Ki Ping October 29, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Waldo, even though you think this is about taxes, it is really about zoning and protecting residents of this community. Goodman knew what the zoning was when he purchased it and assumes he can bulldose his way into changing it, disregarding the residents rights and the current zoning. Not saying he's a bad guy, just someone who puts his business ahead of other's rights.
waldo von erich October 30, 2012 at 11:27 AM
ki ping , with what you said , why is that specific parcel , zone for business use? what iam looking at the fact that abington twp is not business friendly , which leads to have no tax base or employment . Does goodman have the right to sue the township for property he can not develop ? If so that also will hurt me the citizen of this township. Where does it end?
Kathy Adlam March 24, 2013 at 02:37 PM
James, no we DON'T need a 24/7 business on that particular stretch of land. If you want that, then move it up towards the Acme or down in the Baederwood Shopping Center. NOT on my mother's property line.
Kathy Adlam March 24, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Thomas, in your previous statement that there is no residential property above the proposed Wawa. I beg to differ. I was raised in that house that is directly above that retainer wall. My mother and other family members still live in that house. The neighborhood has many new, younger families throughout. It was bad enough when the car dealerships promised to maintain the retainer wall, which they never did. They let the pavement crumble, upon which there were always numerous run-down cars parked along there. They rarely kept their agreement to maintain the tree line until the trees grew so much that they decided they would cut 1/2 the trees down without regard to preserving the property line appearance. There was constant activity down there from 6 am till 9 pm. The bright lights, blowing horns, etc., was constant. So really, everyone who thinks it would be a great place for a 24/7 business, has no real idea since my family has occupied that property for at least 60+ years, when the only business down there was an old silver diner and the old Hot Shoppes where Barnes and Noble is now......
Kathy Adlam March 24, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Victor, you might not like what Lora has to say, but thank God SOMEONE is raising some issues here and making people think. We don't have to agree 100% with everything that she or anyone else has to say, but at least she's not sitting back doing nothing and fighting for something she believes in. If it's okay for you, it's okay for her. Remember, not everyone likes everything you say, either. She at least has had the decency to apologize for information misstated. At least be man enough to give her that credit.

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