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March 28, 2017

Small-town battle brewing over proposed Wawa in Hatboro

Residents take stand for second time in five years

Development Wawa
Wawa Hatboro PhillyVoice illustration/Credits: Google Maps

A Wawa gas station is proposed for the southwest corner of South York and Horsham roads in Hatboro, next to the borough municipal building, at left.

In a scenario that may seem unthinkable to devoted admirers of Wawa, some residents in Hatboro are gearing up to oppose the construction of a new gas station at a busy intersection. 

More than 200 people have signed a petition to defeat the Wawa proposed at Horsham and York roads, part of the main strip of the small Montgomery County town.

The proposal by Buckingham Retail Properties LLC calls for a 5,600-square-foot Wawa gas station with six pumps, removing a single residence at the former site of Miller House and White Billet nursing home.

This isn't the petitioners' first rodeo. 

In March 2012, when Summit Realty proposed a Wawa at the same site, 300 people crowded a public meeting and killed the plan, arguing that it would worsen traffic congestion and cause floodwater damage, noise and light pollution in the surrounding residential community. 

"Wawa Impedes on Small Town Life," this year's petition is titled. "We Said No Once: It's Still No!"

An April 12 zoning board meeting is expected to draw another large crowd, according to The Intelligencer. The developer is hoping to be granted a variance that will allow a gasoline service station in a residential district for three parcels it does not own. 

After a Monday night borough meeting, where opponents of the plan voiced their concerns, residents are hoping the zoning meeting will be moved to a location that can accommodate a larger attendance. Doing so might result in a rescheduling, a town official told The Intelligencer

The petition, launched by local resident Christina Giovinazzo, cites Hatboro's 2004 Comprehensive Plan and Revitalization Strategy, suggesting the Wawa proposal is in direct conflict with those goals. In addition to concerns about the impact on residents whose driveways cut directly off of York Road, the petition says the Wawa would be built on a floodplain and would reduce home values in the neighborhood. 

Wawa already has a location without a gas station several blocks north of the proposed Super Wawa site, as well as an existing Super Wawa at the split off PA-611 to PA-263. A Sunoco gas station with eight pumps is also located two blocks from the developers' proposed site. 

"Deeply consider the impact of this Application to the immediate future as well as the future of the town, current resident’s well-being and safety as well as future residents," the petition urges, "and the trend that it begins leading to a downward spiral of a wonderful small town turned into commerce central where no one wishes to live and only passes through."