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.
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.