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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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Victor B. Krievins October 24, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Excellant presentation by Bruce Goodman and associates. Unfortunately Lora Lehmann once again presented misinformation.
barbara ferrara October 24, 2012 at 01:34 PM
The question isn't whether or not people want a Wawa but whether the location is of a size to accommodate such a large facility - clearly the current site is not appropriate.
Nancy October 24, 2012 at 02:44 PM
An exit onto Hilltop where Jenkintown Day Nursery parents drop off and pick up their children? Bad idea.
Dottie Morse October 24, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Savona ( Goodman’s attorney) said the Abington Economic Development Committee is unanimously in favor of the development...not a surprise since Bruce Goodman (Provco Goodman, L.P.) sits on the Abington Economic Developement Committee. This developement project needed 23 zoning variances which the developer knew would never fly, & knew it when he purchased the property, so he pulled it from zoning approval, and rewrote an ordinance to suit his needs..."The amendment to the zoning ordinance brought before the planning commission last night was completely penned by Provco Goodman, L.P." It's a great idea !!! If your project doesn't comply to local zoning, just rewrite it to suit your project. Most projects need a few variances, but give me a break...this just stinks to high heaven. THIS IS THE WRONG DEVELOPEMENT FOR THIS PROPERTY.
Greg Pennekamp October 24, 2012 at 06:23 PM
One of the major issues here is that this property is a PB property that shares property lines with residental properties. Per PB Code 801.T commerical properties abutting residential properties shall not operate between 12 midnight and 6am. A Super Wawa is a 24/7 business. It is not the correct type of business for this property. Mr. Goodman bought this property knowing how it was zoned. He made the buisness decision to do that on his own. For that matter all property owners, residential and commerical, bought their properties with the understanding that this is a PB property that will not have a 24/7 business on it. Mr. Goodman is trying to change the zoning on this site to have a 24/7 business. Why should Mr. Goodman get to write a new ordinance that only benefits one commerical property owner (himself) at the expense of his neighbors, the residential property owners? We are all for developing this property with the correct type of business. The bank is a good idea, it is not a 24/7 business. It is time for Mr. Goodman to find a tenant for his property that is not a 24/7 business. And to note, I love Wawa. I think they are a great company. It is too bad that this specific site restricts a 24/7 Super Wawa from being built there. To change an Abington property code that was put in place to protect residential properties would be a shame. Protecting residential property owners rights is one reason why Abington is one of the best places to live in the US.
Greg Pennekamp October 24, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Hi Victor, I agree that Mr. Goodman put together a good presentation. Too bad his plan does not meet the PB code for his property. I would love to see a plan that meets the requirements of the commerical property he decided to buy. I am sorry to say that I disagee with you about Ms. Lehmann, I believe some of her points are very valid. Greg
Roman Gabriel October 24, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Does anybody care that career Phila. politician Allyson Schwartz is a two faced lying pig ?
Dottie Morse October 24, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Greg...your point is well stated. I am in complete agreement.
Paul Nolan October 24, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Yea, it's beautiful landscape. Let's just keep it the way it is. Let's not bring revenue and jobs into Abington. Not in my neighborhood. I think we should shut down Old Navy, Bryner and Barnes and Noble while we're at it.
Jeff Tyler October 24, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Well stated Greg
steve sachuk October 25, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Agreed don't we want new jobs and more tax base brought into the area that corner has not been the same since the Texaco pulled out lets remember that has been what about ten years. Let's get moving abington into the right direction and not have building after building empty with empty lots strun thought our neighborhoods, lets get a little more business friendly ...
James Goodwin October 25, 2012 at 05:36 PM
We could drop the entrance/exit to the day care center and the project would fly. We need a 24/7 business to provide food and gas to those asking for such.
Thomas Jefferson October 25, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Would opening this new Wawa also result in the closing of the Wawa across from Starbucks? The current store gets very busy and creates some traffic issues, having a bigger facility with more parking would really help the situation. It would also be nice to have a gas station at the South end of the Jenkintown strip, the Exxon station at the North end is not very convenient.
Mischa Arnosky (Editor) October 25, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Hi Thomas Jefferson. Yes, the Wawa on Rodman near the Starbucks would be closed should there be a Wawa in the 800 block of Old York Road. And yes, parking there (and at Starbucks) is terrible.
Greg Pennekamp October 25, 2012 at 09:59 PM
24/7 Food - We have it at the existing Wawa which is located on a 24/7 zoned commerical property (it does not share property lines with residential property). 24/7 Gas - We may not have this, but I do know that the BP Gas Station (next to Kitchen Bar) about a mile north of this proposed site has gas late, at least until Midnight, maybe later. They keep their pumps operating late. I know I haven't heard anyone asking for 24/7 food since we already have it. As for 24/7 gas I have never heard anyone say that they think Jenkintown/Abington needs 12 lanes of 24/7 gas. It really is amazing that we have gotten by this long without that. As for new job creation, it is nonexistent with this development plan. The 24/7 Wawa employees will be relocated to the new location, no new jobs. The bank that is proposed would also be a relocation per Mr. Goodman's presentation, since his current bank tenant at another location is looking to move, no new jobs. The only new jobs would be construction jobs, but that will be created no matter what business is built. Lets work towards new job creation by finding businesses that don't already exist locally and meet the codes of the property Mr. Goodman decided to purchase knowing the property's code restrictions.
Greg Pennekamp October 26, 2012 at 01:12 AM
I have great news everybody! The BP Gas Station located on 611 in the heart of Abington has 24/7 gas!! There are a total of 4 lanes with 8 gas pumps and this gas station is easily accessible for both south bound and north bound traffic. It has been a 24/7 gas station for over 5 years now. The bad news is that I was a little off on the distance from the proposed 24/7 Wawa site, it is actually 1.3 miles, not 1 mile. Also the store/office at this BP is only open 7am-10pm. So when you do go for your late night gas, don't forget your credit card. So please spread the word to everyone that Abington has 24/7 food and 24/7 gas on the 611 corridor!! Isn't this great news? Now Mr. Goodman can really focus his attention on bringing true new business to our township, not business that is already here. That would be some great job creation. Not only that, but he can find businesses that meet the codes of his property and his neighbors' properties. I would now like to quote my Abington High School 10th grade science teacher, Mr. Raeder (sp?), "isn't this sooo totally cool?".
Thomas Jefferson October 26, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Thanks for clarifying Mischa!
Thomas Jefferson October 26, 2012 at 02:03 AM
You make some fair arguments here Greg. One thing I'm not clear about is that the only property that is near that space is the Day Care across on Hilltop Road. Why would it matter if the WaWa was open 24 hours if the day care only operates during regular business hours? It's not a case where there is a residential house across the street that might get late night noise from cars coming in and out. Also, that space was a gas station before, what's the objection to it being a gas station again? Most gas stations have stores in them, the WaWa is more or less an upgrade version of that.
Greg Pennekamp October 26, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Hi Thomas - The site shares property lines with residential properties directly behind it (up the hill). If you look at the site plan you can see one of the homes sitting on the hill directly above it. Also there are other residental properties north of the site's property line (behind the gas area and the car dealership). There is actually a whole neighborhood behind the site that would hear all the nightly activites of a 24/7 Super Wawa. I am all for development of this land, but this land is not coded for a 24/7 business. I feel for the neigbors of this property who bought their homes knowing that their neighbor was zone for planned business, but they also bought knowing that their neighbor was not going to be a 24/7 business. Why should one commerical land owner get to rewrite the code of the land he decided to purchase (he knew the codes) to benefit greatly at the expense of his residential neighbors? And I am not against a gas station, I loved the Texaco and went there often, it wasn't a 24/7 business, I am against a 24/7 operation. The property is not zoned for it because it shares property lines with residential properties, it is writen in the Planned Business code. No more quiet summer nights for these neighbors if Mr. Goodman gets his way. He has written his own ordinance that is pretty specifc to this property. Just doesn't seem right to me, Mr. Goodman will benefit greatly while good long standing Abington residents lose.
waldo von erich October 26, 2012 at 11:06 PM
again typical abington bureaucratic nonsense , abington is the most business unfriendliest township , it does nothing to promote any new businesses. which in turn their is no revenue for the township . this meeting was nothing more the a bunch of lame excuses and no forward thinking from the township planning commission.wow i thought their was abington economic development group ,i guess their busy doing another economic study . with no new businesses we as township residents will see our taxes go up to meet what short fall comes in
Ted Farrell October 27, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Waldo - if you owned a property adjacent to this property you would be singing a different tune. When a man buys a house in Abington Township, he must be able to trust that the laws in place are strong enough to withstand a push for a 24/7 super Wawa that the law was written to prevent in the first place. I stand firmly with Greg Pennekamp on this issue .
waldo von erich October 27, 2012 at 03:35 PM
ted as i stated abington is not business friendly ,why is that parcel zone for business use? i trust as a township resident that my township is doing all it can not to raise taxes , i soon may not be able to live in one the best communities .
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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