Bucks County Herald

Hilltown zoning board grants relief to build new “Super Wawa”

Supervisors will have the final say

CHRIS RUVO

The would-be builders of a “Super Wawa” in Hilltown have cleared one hurdle in bringing their plan to fruition.

The Hilltown Zoning Hearing Board has approved key zoning variances related to the required number of parking spaces and property buffering that must be installed at the Wawa site, which is located at the bustling intersection of Route 113 and Route 313.

That’s according to township Solicitor Stephen Harris, who spoke about the Zoning Hearing Board decision at Monday’s meeting of Hilltown’s Board of Supervisors.

Harris noted that the zoning board’s decision clears the way for the developer, Hunt Real Estate Services Inc., to submit a formal land development plan for approval.

Ultimately, Hilltown’s three-person board of supervisors will have final say on whether or not Hunt will get to build the Super Wawa.

Harris said the township had not yet received a land development plan, but he expected that one would be coming soon. Public hearings before supervisors would then commence.

“I believe they want to move quickly on this,” Harris said.

Hilltown Supervisor Jim Groff said that Wawa representatives recently contacted the Hilltown Water & Sewer Authority about sewer and water service for the site. Groff is manager of the authority.

Last year, Hunt Real Estate Services presented a preliminary sketch plan on the project.

The plan called for tearing down the existing Wawa at the 313/113 intersection and replacing it with a larger store.

At nearly 5,600 square feet, the Super Wawa would be about 2,000 square feet larger than the current one. The site would also feature eight gas pumps for a total of 16 fueling stations.

Under the sketch plan, the roughly 4-acre Wawa lot would be subdivided into two lots, one of about 2.5 acres for the Super Wawa, and the other of 1.6 acres for a fast food restaurant with a drive-through.

On Monday, Harris said that the zoning board’s recent decision would allow Hunt to install fewer parking spaces for the fast-food restaurant than current local zoning rules call for.

“The thinking is that, nowadays, there is so much drive-through business for an operation like this that the number of spaces called for aren’t necessary,” said Harris.

The other variance would allow Hunt to plant a narrower buffer zone than local zoning mandates.

In a twist, nearby properties are zoned residential, but used for commercial purposes, Harris said. Still, because of the residential zoning, the Super Wawa developer would have been required under township rules to create a comparatively wider buffer zone to shield residential properties from the Wawa’s potentially disruptive commercial activities. But since, in reality, the neighboring properties are commercial uses also, zoning officials felt the wider buffer zone wasn’t really needed, Harris said.

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