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Wawa Impedes on Small Town Life - We Said No Once: It's Still NO!

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Super Wawa at the corner of Horsham and York Roads: The first proposal was in 2012: http://patch.com/pennsylvania/horsham/hatboro-residents-take-on-wawa A zoning change at this location was also opposed in early 2016.

We admire persistence, but please move on Wawa. This rich historical area doesn't need more pavement and gas pumps. We're a modest 1.1 square mile town and everyone loves to stop at a Wawa: No one invites one to live next door.

Residents have voiced concerns of increased traffic volume, increased flood water damage, noise and light disturbances in the surrounding residential community, decreased home value and the overall diminished look and feel of the town. We are opposed to any zoning change and allowances for any large market force at this location because it does not serve the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of Hatboro. 

                In 2004 Hatboro invested and adopted a Comprehensive Plan and Revitalization Strategy. I’d like to address the proposed zoning change and development with respect to this plan. For reference, it is located here: 

http://www.hatborogov.org/images/pdfs/Hatboro-Comprehensive-Plan.pdf

 

Vision: 

The vision states that Hatboro will be working towards providing “a range of affordable housing in attractive neighborhoods” (page 2).  The proposal negatively impacts the attractiveness of our neighborhood.

“Avoid extending or establishing commercial uses in outlying residential areas” (page 4). The proposed zoning change does establish a commercial use in an outlying residential area. The Future Land Use and Housing Map clearly show the proposed land outside of Town Center and in a residential area.

Safety and General Welfare:

                A two way traffic count study conducted in 2002 showed that the subject  property location of Horsham Rd. and York Rd. had a daily average of 19, 582 vehicles, making this the second highest traveled intersection in the Borough (page 54).

The intersection accommodates two lanes of travel, one in each direction.  Increasing retail/commercial traffic through this heavily traveled intersection does not serve the safety and welfare of the community and presents safety hazards for residents of Horsham Rd., motorists, and pedestrians.

Horsham Rd. is lined with driveways leading to private dwellings. The first two dwellings on Horsham Rd. have driveway entrances that are located in the direct vicinity of the full access entrance/exit of the proposed retail parking lot. One driveway is located directly across from the entrance/exit and the other is adjacent within approximately ten feet. The proposal and zoning change would increase volume: Motorists accessing driveways and the entrance/exit to the parking lot would be faced with safety hazards at this location. There is also a sidewalk leading from York Rd. to the neighborhood on the proposed full access entrance and exit side that is frequently traveled.

Creek Conservation & Floodplain Impact:

                “Construction is prohibited or severely limited within corridors along these waterways that are a part of 100-year floodplain area” (Page 8).

 “9.Continue enforcing the regulations of the Floodplain Conservation District contained in the Borough of Hatboro’s Zoning Ordinance to keep development out of sensitive floodprone lands” (Page 46).

“ 10. Establish a setback from waterways, within which soil cannot be disturbed. Codify this riparian buffer by amending the Borough of Hatboro Zoning Ordinance”(Page 46).

The proposal includes three parcels: 402 South York Rd., 412 South York Rd. and 29 Horsham Rd. Both South York Road properties are listed as “high risk” on www.floodsmart.gov and show on the most current flood map. 

Found here - http://montcopa.org/Document Center/View/4445 - Page 13, lists the intent of the Floodplain Ordinance published through Montgomery County.

“A. Protect areas of the floodplain necessary to contain floodwaters. B. To permit only those uses in the floodplain that are compatible with preserving natural conditions and stream flow. C. Promote the general health, welfare, and safety of the community by preventing development in areas prone to flooding. D. Encourage the utilization of appropriate construction practices in order to prevent or minimize flood damage in the future. E. Minimize danger to public health by protecting water supply and natural drainage. F. Reduce financial burdens imposed on the community, its governmental units, and its residents, by preventing excessive development in areas subject to flooding. G. Comply with federal and state floodplain management requirements.”

 

The property, in part, does show as being on the Floodplain. In addition to the property being rated as high risk flood prone, the two roadways that would give access to and from the location pose the same threat.

The Flood Plain map is rated based on data and the Ordinances through FEMA, Montgomery County and the Borough were put into place to protect us from increased damage to the properties we’ve spent out lives working for. The proposed zoning change does not serve any of the Floodplain Ordinances I’ve found. Development on this property, at a retail/commercial level, seems to work against the goal to protect flood plain areas.

 

Keeping Older Neighborhoods Stable:

                 “Keep out incompatible uses - It is important to protect older residential areas from incompatible development. This is a particular concern in older areas where there is a relatively dense mix of commercial, industrial and residential uses, with small setbacks. The zoning hearing boards should carefully review changes to existing business uses in residential zoning districts (which are called "nonconforming uses") to make sure they will not harm the neighborhood. In industrial areas near neighborhoods, use care about the types of permitted uses allowed by right under the Borough’s zoning ordinance” (Page 14).

There are several residents who sought a real estate evaluation based on the previous zoning of R-4 to the recent change to RC-2. Residents will be protecting their investments to ensure any zoning changes at the proposed location do not negatively impact the value of our homes. The Wawa proposal puts a greater danger to diminished property values and a diminished quality of life for near-by residents.

The zoning is assigned for a purpose: To control and protect current and future land use and development in accordance with the Borough plan. Zoning should protect the residents and provide clear guidelines to ensure everyone understands their exposure and risk when deciding to invest in property located in Hatboro.  If zoning regulations are permitted to change each time an individual, developer or land owner wishes, where does it end? What security does a resident have that a neighbor won’t seek a zoning change and turn their garage into an auto body shop? If there is a residential street containing homes on each side and one side sells to a developer for a shopping center, what protects the residents on the other side of the street? There needs to be standardized criteria that proves altering zoning on a parcel makes sense from several aspects. They were addressed in the Comprehensive Plan and Revitalization Strategy.

                As a life-long resident of Hatboro and someone who remains passionate in investing to revitalize the town, I found the Comprehensive Plan and Revitalization Strategy to be in line with what the majority of residents would want to see. It should also provide insight to future/ potential residents who are thinking of living here. We all want Hatboro to be a desired location. If there is no validity to the Plan or the Zoning, and either can change at any time, there is no security for anyone who invests here.

We should never allow Market forces dictate a town's zoning.

Any decision to proceed, as proposed, assures that more exceptions will be requested and there will be little we can do to control it with evidence and history of these changes being granted for others. “Hatboro Borough should make zoning changes only after assessing how the proposed changes conform to the spirit of the Plan”(Page 2).  

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 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.



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