Bucks County Herald

Solebury residents question need for mega-Wawa

Proposed project with gas station would straddle New Hope-Solebury line


It was a standing-room-only crowd that showed up Monday night to tell the Solebury Township Planning Commission that a 24-hour mega-Wawa with six fuel pumps, 12 fueling positions, and 69 parking spaces was not what it wanted to see at Lower York (Route 202) and North Sugan Rd.

Wawa representatives presented an informational sketch plan review to gauge community reaction to its proposal for the 5,585-square-foot development on six parcels. The four parcels that contain the building and fuel pumps are in New Hope and the two parcels earmarked for parking are in Solebury.

The fuel pumps would face Sugan Road where the entrance is planned. The other entrance is off Lower York Road where no left exit would be allowed.

Michael Redel, Wawa real estate engineer, said Wawa would sell its existing store, which it owns on Bridge Street, if the new venture is approved.

Wawa needs variances and approvals from both municipalities, said township attorney Jordan Yeager.

Residents’ concerns centered on traffic and school bus backups on Sugan Road, blockage of coming and going fire trucks and ambulances at the Eagle Fire Company across the street, and degradation of the environment and community life.

For the ambulance service, one minute can make the difference between life and death, one resident said.

“We can’t let corporate greed come between us and a life,” she said as the audience applauded.

Wawa attorney Tom Hecker responded that ambulance drivers would have instruments to change the traffic lights to green.

“What in your research has told you we need six more gas pumps,” another resident wanted to know.

Commission Chair Chris Caputo asked how Wawa could ever be competitive since gas prices are historically cheaper just across the river in New Jersey.

“We’re not here to fight,” said attorney Hecker, adding the company just wants input from the community at this stage.

A Sugan Road resident whose property adjoins the project said, as it is, “I take my life in my hands every time I go to make a left onto Sugan.”

Another Sugan resident whose property was shown on Wawa maps as being part of the project said, “I haven’t been approached to sell the property.”

“Sounds like you two have to talk,” said Caputo.

Another neighbor said he works hard on the upkeep of his property and “I hate to see that all go down the tube.”

“This is not a community-based facility,” was another response.

Because the Wawa building and pumps are in the borough, “New Hope would get the tax breaks, and we get the noise,” a Solebury resident noted.

The question arose about eliminating the gas pumps and just building the store.

Redel said Wawa has 754 stores in six states and is in the process of phasing out its non-gas pump stores, having already closed 250 of them.

The company has not made any decision yet on whether it would close the small New Hope Wawa if the mega-Wawa application is denied, he added.

While Wawa owns the existing store, the mega-Wawa would be built and owned by Tom Verrichia of The Verrichia Co. of Doylestown.



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