What's going on with Wawa's challenge to Newtown's zoning ordinance, which does not currently have a use for a combination gas station and convenience store anywhere in the "Jointure" (Newtown, Wrightstown, Upper Makefield)?

According to a story published in the Bucks County Courier Times (see below), Wawa’s hearing before the Newtown Zoning Hearing Board was continued until the March 5 meeting at the request of township solicitor David Sander. No reason was mentioned in the aricle.

Meanwhile, the Jointure is considering adding such a use (E30) to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance. The process has a way to go, but the current draft has most of the things Wawa specifically would want, including large square footage of store space and up to 16 gas pumps despite the Jointure solicitor's advice that "You are allowed to free your mind of the 5600 square foot minimum and the traditional Wawa layout" and despite the concern of Newtown's Planning Commission about the size of the building and recommednation that the number of gas pumps be limited to eight (listen to the Commission's comments here).

The Newtown Township zoning hearing board’s consideration of variances for a proposed new Wawa and Old Navy have both been pushed back.
Wawa’s hearing was continued until the March 5 meeting at the request of township solicitor David Sander, a move agreed to by the developer’s attorney John VanLuvanee, zoning hearing board solicitor Michael Clarke announced.
Consideration of Old Navy variances were continued for at least 60 days but no actual date has been set, he added.
The 12,500 square-foot Old Navy is being proposed for a spot at the Newtown Shopping Center just off Route 413. Variances being considered also include those for a proposed 400-square-foot expansion of the Chick-fil-A in the same center.
“I understand that the (Newtown Shopping Center) plans are possibly being amended, which would require them to start the (application) process over again,” Clarke said.
[Related: “Survey Says Newtown Area Residents Oppose Old Navy Box Store”]
Developer Provco Pineville Acquisitions LLC is proposing a 5,585 square-foot Wawa with eight fueling stations (16 pumps) for five acres just off the Newtown Bypass near Upper Silver Lake Road.
Provco is asking for 13 variances and has also filed a challenge to the joint municipal zoning ordinance that sets zoning law for Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown because it makes no provision for a combined convenience store/gas pumps use.
A new ordinance that would set aside areas for the use in all three municipalities is being developed but the Wawa must be considered separately because plans for the project were filed before the process for drafting a new JMZO was started, officials have said.
A seven-year township resident with extensive financial experience is the newest supervisor in Newtown Township.
Board members voted 3-1 at a special meeting Wednesday night to appoint Democrat David Oxley to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Linda Bobrin. Oxley, 36, will serve through 2021 by virtue of the appointment but would have to run and win in that year’s election to retain the seat.
“I’m really excited to be in this position,” he said. “I want to put my own stamp on the township and working together, I know we can make things better.”
Oxley added he will “work hard to keep the township safe, especially for our youth. Maybe we can add some bike paths. I want to help keep Newtown Township family-oriented and promote growth, though we don’t want to grow too fast.”
johnmacknewtown's insight:
Mr. Oxley brings to the Board extensive expertise in financial management combined with business development experience and volunteerism, which are perfect qualifications for the work that the Board must do in the coming months. In particular, I hope that he will lead our effort to work with consultants, residents and the business community to solve the township’s deficit spending death spiral.   Growing up in Hartford, Conn., Oxley graduated with a bachelor’s degree in politics and government from the University of Hartford. It was there, Oxley said, that he met his future wife, Danielle, a college basketball player from Upper Makefield Township who attended Council Rock, graduating in 2003.   According to Oxley, he started working in the banking industry as a teller, eventually becoming a branch manager and later working for Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.   In 2008, he moved to Philadelphia with Danielle, later marrying and then relocating to Newtown Township, which he says he loves. The couple has four children: Micah, 14; Abigail, 7; Jonah, 4; and, Anna, 2.   “[As supervisor] I want to make sure our community is safe and keeps that family-oriented feeling,” Oxley told BucksLocalNews.com.
The Newtown Borough Council at its February work session will consider partnering with Newtown Township and the Newtown Creek Coalition to explore the feasibility of building a pedestrian bridge across the Newtown Creek.
At its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 14 Mike Sellers, from the Newtown Creek Coalition, detailed the coalition’s vision for a footbridge that would span the creek via an existing right of way between Frost Lane in Newtown Borough and the Sycamore Center in Newtown Township.
As photographs flashed across the screen, Sellers said the span would create a safe, recreational and pedestrian connection across the Newtown Creek that would provide a missing link in the local and regional trail system and easy pedestrian access between residential neighborhoods in Newtown Borough and Newtown Township’s commercial core.
The coalition initially brought the concept plan to the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors this past fall. In November, the supervisors subsequently voted to start the ball rolling on the project, passing a resolution establishing a working group to explore the feasibility and available state grants to build the structure.
[Read “Summary of November 26, 2019, Newtown Township BOS Public Meeting’;
https://www.johnmacknewtown.info/blog/?viewDetailed=201912141204 and “Newtown Supervisors Agree to Investigate Feasibility of Getting State Funding for Bridge Over Newtown Creek”; http://sco.lt/7ExuVM]
According to Sellers, between 60 and 65 percent of the project is located in Newtown Township with the balance in the borough.
“It is for this reason Newtown Township was first approached about its interest in pursuing the pedestrian bridge,” Sellers told council. “Obviously if the township for any reason was not interested in moving forward there would be no point to talk to the borough about it.”
After hearing the presentation, the councilors expressed general support for the idea, but said they’d like to hear what borough residents have to say before adopting a resolution. They have scheduled a vote on the resolution for its February 5 work session.
While a $35 million expansion of the Village at Newtown Shopping Center that will include a new Solstice Restaurant, Iron Hill Brewery and several other establishments is rapidly taking shape, a new 12,500 square-foot Old Navy and 400 square-foot Chick-fil-A expansion is being proposed at the adjacent Newtown Shopping Center.
In the meantime, township officials are considering a proposed Wawa with gas pumps just off the Newtown Bypass near its intersection with Lower Silver Lake Road. Company officials have filed a challenge to the joint municipal zoning ordinance that covers Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown because it doesn’t designate areas for a combined convenience store/gas pumps use.
[Also read: “Mack & Fisher Respond to Questions About Development”]
A zoning hearing board meeting to consider variances for the proposed Wawa and the Newtown Shopping Center work is set for Thursday.
[Meet Mack Monday & discuss this: February 3, 2020]
As for the overall bright business outlook in the township, growth is good so long as it’s well thought out and managed, said Jim Worthington, owner of the largest business in Newtown Township, the Newtown Athletic Club.
But it’s not all positive, stressed Newtown Township Supervisor John Mack. In particular, he cited the proposed Old Navy as the wrong kind of business growth for the township.
Mack said he’s gotten 75 comments so far from Newtown-area residents in opposition, including comments that the store is not up-scale enough and many residents would prefer Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Wegman’s.
[What do you think? Take Mack's "Old Navy/Chick-fil-A Proposal Survey"]
The supervisor cites the Old Navy as the kind of commercial development that “brings only few low-paying jobs which does little to add to our revenue.”
On the other hand, Mack had a generally favorable view of businesses that will move in as the result of the Village at Newtown expansion “although parking is sometimes a problem. I understand that malls have to rethink their business plans to compete with Amazon.”
Township officials have to take a very hard look at the types of projects being allowed, said Mack, who added he is suggesting a voluntary moratorium on all new commercial development in the township while officials and residents “meet with commercial developers to ensure that their plans jibe with our new 10-year comprehensive plan, which currently is in the works.”
[Read "It’s Time to Update Newtown's Comprehensive Plan!"]
johnmacknewtown's insight:
People who are concerned about the types of stores coming to the shopping centers in Newtown should contact the property owners/realtors who bring these stores to Newtown. Potential leasees need to understand the preferences of residents. In the future, the Township may be sending a questionnaire to businesses to ask what can Newtown do to attract more business with the goal of keeping TWP real estate taxes low, currently 4.5 mills (for a typical homeowner that's about $192 per year that goes to the Twp for police, public works, fire & emergency services, etc. not counting the much higher school and county taxes that we pay. For moe on that go here: http://bit.ly/NTtaxInfo). We should also be asking residents what businesses they would like to see come to Newtown and what the Township can do to attract those businesses, IMHO.   Related article: Let's prevent Newtown from turning into a modern day "Pottersville"
johnmacknewtown's insight:
Topics discussed at a recent meeting include:   Meet David Oxley, the newly-appointed Newtown Township Supervisor (read "David D. Oxley Sworn in as Newtown Township Supervisor!"). Newtown A.O.P. (Toll Bros.): a conditional use proposal to construct a cluster of 41 single-family homes on a 152-acre parcel at Rt. 413 and Twining Bridge Road (read "Newtown Residents Dissatisfied With Toll Brothers"). Challenge to Validity of the JMZO and variances in connection with proposed convenience store (WAWA) with fuel dispensing station on Newtown Bypass & U. Silver Lake Rd. (this is on the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) schedule for 2/6/20). The Board of Supervisors voted to send its solicitor to this hearing to oppose the challenge. Variances in connection with a proposed 12,500 square foot Old Navy Retail Store (new bldg.) and additions to existing Chick Fil-A (4 West Road) - ZHB will also hear this case on 2/6/20. I will hand out a summary of the results of my "Old Navy/Chick-fil-A Proposal Survey." Update on the ZHB 1/30/20 hearing re Variances in connection with a proposed B-8 use for 27 townhomes on a 4.49 acre lot in the PS-2 district (413 Durham Rd. The Board of Supervisors also opposes this (read "Newtown Supervisors Oppose Plan To Build 27 Townhouses").
The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
2020 © John Mack
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