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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. 

Greg Pennekamp November 20, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Hi Victor - You have a great point about traffic. I look forward to seeing you at the Township meetings for the proposed Transit Center.
Kathy Adlam November 20, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Well, how would you like to be the owner of the property right above the proposed site? My mother happens to own that property and the lot between her house and the mess at the bottom of the hill. The car dealerships are bad enough, with all of the test drives speeding up Hilltop Rd. - We have had a couple of pets run over by the inconsiderate drivers, not to mention the young kids that dart out from the nursery. The traffic from the Jenkintown Day Nursery is bad enough, who needs the extra traffic and noise from Wawa? It's a mess at the other Wawa across from the Starbucks. (Granted, the parking is almost non-existent, which was poor planning on their part, just as it's bad at the Roslyn Wawa...) If Barnes & Noble is shutting it's doors, why not put it there, where there are more ways to get in and out without stopping traffic? Traffic on Old York Rd is bad enough - add in all of the buses, poorly timed traffic lights, and then oh, there is the borough of Jenkintown, which is ridiculous. York Road from Warminster all the way to Philly is a disaster. Why would anyone WANT to add to the mess?
Kathy Adlam November 20, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Thanks Ray. I agree. There are a LOT more young children in the neighbor hoods from Beader Rd up to Canterbury Rd. Did anyone even take that into consideration, or are they just looking at the almighty dollar?
Kathy Adlam November 20, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Not if you live in that neighborhood. Something does need to fill that dead space, but certainly not a high volume Wawa, to further complicate traffic. Have you ever had to wait at any of those lights? Have you been stuck behind a bus there? Have you ever sat through the light turning green a few times because of the congestion leading into Jenkintown? Have you ever tried to cross that street as a pedestrian? Trying to get onto York Road from Hilltop is ridiculous, since no one EVER has the common courtesy to let you in. This is NOT a worthwhile project. A nice quiet neighborhood is at risk.
Kathy Adlam November 20, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Right Laura!
Kathy Adlam November 20, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Maria... Try living right behind it. I grew up in that house right behind that proposed site. How would you like having that atrocity right next to your property line?
Kathy Adlam November 20, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I really miss the days where all that was at the bottom of the hill was the old diner. Then came the Shell/Texaco Stations.... And the Day Care Center. York Road can NOT handle any more!
Dottie Morse November 20, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Beautifully expressed Laura. Dottie Morse
June Goodwin November 21, 2012 at 01:18 AM
If the safety of children is compromised by the Wawa proposed, then the other existing developments already built in the area may well "compromise" the safety of children. I am assuming that children are not allowed to run with abandon without the watchful eyes of parents. The hypocrisy is so telling from neighbors and Wawa opponents. Anything else can be built there but not a Wawa. The neighbors want to use someone's property as their private buffer without letting the owner make a decent return on it. Planning Commission wanted to make neighbors happy, but the fun will start once the project is approved and under construction.
waldo von erich November 21, 2012 at 02:10 AM
I wonder if abington township will be sued for restriction of trade , since this area is zone for commercial type usage . so with this proposed wawa being struck down ,i have a question for the so call abington economic development, with the study of the old york road corridor , what kinda or types of businesses can use this property and be acceptable to the area neighbors ? what have they done to promote a better business atmosphere in abington township , abington is the most business un friendly community , i see no encouragement for small developing businesses.just look at all the empty buildings on old york road .
dyan November 21, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Your smart ! What a great Idea.
dyan November 21, 2012 at 04:47 PM
I would like to buy you lunch someday !
Lisa Scott-Reimer November 22, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Generating more revenue in Abington Township should be a common goal of all residents who love and appreciate this wonderful & diverse community but not at the cost of ones' lively hood. Kathy Adlam's idea about using the Barnes & Noble site seems to be a very good choice and one that should be considered by those involved in making the decision.....just saying.
Greg Pennekamp November 22, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Hi Lisa, I agree, that could be a nice site and is surrounded by commerical propety. Interesting enough this property is also owned by Mr. Goodman. When I spoke with him the other day he informed me that he is putting a CVS in at that location, another Pharmacy! Who needs this? There is a Walgreens directly across the street. So which business is going to go out of business first? This can also affect Abington Pharmacy which has been a family run business in Abington for years! Why does Mr. Goodman's development plan bring in competing business that will only hurt the businesses that already exist? Let's ask Mr. Goodman to come back to the table with a development plan that brings true NEW BUSINESS & REVENUE to Abington.
Lisa Scott-Reimer November 22, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Hi Greg, Yes, that sounds like an excellent question to ask Mr. Goodman..! Can you or anyone else reading this tell me when the next hearing is so I may attend as a concerned citizen? Also I guess I should do my homework and find out as much as I can on this Mr. Goodman......Thanks
Greg Pennekamp November 22, 2012 at 10:41 PM
The new ordinance which changes the zoning codes for this specific property (maybe others in Abington) and affects ALL Abington residential property owners goes before the Board of Commissioners for a vote on December 6th at 7:30pm at the township building. See you at the meeting!
Lisa Scott-Reimer November 22, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I'll be there Greg and thank you!
Kathy Adlam November 22, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Greg & Lisa, Wow. I had no idea there was any thought about putting a CVS there.... There's one right up the street - why in the world do we need another, especially when Walgreens is right there? Whoever this Mr. Goodman is, he needs to have his head examined. He's only thinking about his pocket and not the good of the town. What's wrong with trying to keep Abington/Jenkintown the quaint little towns that they always have been? York Road is awful. Walgreens is an eye-sore. Since Old Navy is no longer there, they should consider CVS or Walgreens going in there. Since Wanamaker's went out of business, that whole area has gotten trashy looking. And they should have done something better with the Baederwood Shopping Center. They should put the Wawa down there since all of the good businesses have been forced out. It is really sad coming home to visit every time I drive by there.
Lisa Scott-Reimer November 22, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Kathy, I didn't know about the CVS plan either until Greg spoke about it and you are both right, the last thing we need is another chain drugstore! I hope you come out on December 6th to let Mr. Goodman know how you feel.
Kathy Adlam November 23, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Lisa, I'd love to be there, unfortunately, I live in VA, while my mother and other family members still live there. I'll see what I can do to get my sister & her husband to go to this meeting. Please feel free to pass on my thoughts and ideas on the subject. This Wawa would NOT be a plus for Abington in the spot that they are planning.... I say let's encourage small businesses to utilize that strip between Harte & Baeder Roads. The car dealerships have destroyed York Road.
waldo von erich November 23, 2012 at 10:04 PM
as i read some of the comments left here on this issue , why are the neighbors in the area not upset with the cvs going into the barnes and noble space and with a drive thru window , where is all the concern for traffic and traffic safety? how many drugs store do you need in this area? iam sure this will add to the congestion and to safety issues , i guess the neighbors will be okay with this cvs store since it will be across the street .
Greg Pennekamp November 23, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Hi Waldo, I am pretty sure no one really knew that there are plans to relocate and existing CVS to this location, we just heard Barnes & Noble was closing. I only heard this from Mr. Goodman myself when I spoke to him after the township meeting last Monday. He owns the property and plans to put in a CVS. As I stated above, I agree with you, how many pharmacies do we need? A Walgreens directly next store to a CVS. What we are seeing is someone that is only concern about one thing, their own pocketbook. As for being upset, nothing really anyone can do. That property is zoned as it is and Goodman has the right to put a business in there that meets the zoning requirements of that property. I guess we can all say that it seems like a stupid idea, but that is a given. As for more traffic, there will probably be less traffic since I don't think a CVS will draw more than the B&N already does. As for the new ordinance in question here, for a motor vehicle fueling station (24/7 Super Wawa), this is what residents have a problem with. This ordinance, which has been written with this specific Wawa development site in mind, can change the rules for ALL of Abington. This new ordinance is not good for any residential property owners that live next to PB properties. This is what the residents have a problem with. One commerical developer is looking to line his pocketbook while his residential neighbors lose. Does that sound like "Abington, one of the best places to LIVE"?
June Goodwin November 24, 2012 at 04:53 PM
The CVS is legally allowed to relocate to the Barnes and Noble property - nothing you can do about that but say "yes". CVS prefers stand alone pharmacy sites as opposed to be shoehorned into existing store space in a power center like it is currently located up the street. What neighbors are opposing is their fear of losing all "so called rights" and they are fond of using other people's property as if it belonged to them. Wawa can legally locate on the proposed site by simply changing operating hours from 5 am to 12 am which would easily be greenlighted for construction as the township cannot afford to fund a lawsuit defense it will almost certainly lose. Once they agree, then they can build and then operate the new Wawa under those hours to give the meddlesome neighbors time to get used to it, then they can petition for 24/7 operation by citing the other gas station in Abington that already operates under 24/7 hours. Again, their chances of prevailing in a lawsuit against the township would be greatly enhanced in a court of law with an existing facility already operational than with a proposed facility under development. Plus, compromise would be a better option in the end with operations allowed between 4 am to 1 am.
Kathy Adlam November 24, 2012 at 10:13 PM
June - "So called rights"? Besides the issue of a 24/7 operating gas station/convenience store and dealing with over-flowing dumpsters, rats, etc., There is a genuine concern for adding traffic to that street. As a property owner, I think that gives them/us the right to protect our property. Look what happened to Roslyn and Willow Grove, all the way up to the turnpike. As someone who has lived in other parts outside of Abington, these stores and strip malls look dumpy. Jenkintown has managed to keep it's hometown feel. Abington, with the Hospital, Library, dealerships, Walgreen's and the eye-sore that is the old Wanamaker's, I just can't believe that things look so un-kept and worn down. You've got Trader Joe's, the Liquor Store and Raymour & Flannigan's, which, while it is tucked away, it still creates a fantastic traffic issue. That's all we need is to add a Super Wawa. Look at the Horsham site. At least it's not right on someone's property line, or if it is, it's got a big enough barrier of trees. I don't care about the legality of CVS & Wawa to be able to build there. Don't you think that the homeowners who have lived there for over 60 years should have a say? There is just too much congestion around there and whoever is on this committee hasn't got a clue. The only thing they care about is the money that THEY will gain by it. We will lose property value.
Paula Rothman November 25, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I live on Pine Tree Rd which gets enough traffic for what should be a quiet street. I don't think enough consideration has been paid to the additional traffic on Baeder Rd that would result. Additional traffic coming from that direction would make the intersection of OYR and Baeder impassible. We don't need a business that would increase traffic volume in the area.
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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