Published On: Sat, Sep 30th, 2017

Wawa Touts Proposed New Hope/Solebury Superstore at Saturday Open House

Photo from Wawa brochure.

Wawa Inc., Doylestown developer Verrichia, and former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick have been out pitching the proposed New Hope-Solebury Wawa superstore, and on Saturday they held an open house at the existing New Hope Wawa to “clear up the misconstrued details about the project.”

Wawa has submitted an application and sketch plan for the massive convenience store and gasoline complex to New Hope Borough Council and the Solebury Township Board of Supervisors, and leaders of both have pledged neutrality as the plan heads first to Solebury’s planning commission on Oct. 9, and then to New Hope’s Zoning Hearing Board.

Wawa opened in New Hope in 1988 at the corner of West Bridge Street and Sugan Road, remodeled in 1997, and in 2000 expanded its parking lot. It’s reputedly one of the busiest locations in the country for the privately-held convenience store chain, which would like to expand its local footprint. The new superstore would be located just north on Sugan Road across from the New Hope Eagle Fire Company, and would sit on 3.5 acres of land adjacent to Route 202, divided evenly between New Hope and Solebury.

The store itself would encompass 5,500 square feet, with around 70 parking spaces, and the gasoline service areas would feature six pumps. The location would be accessible from Sugan Road and both directions of Route 202.

Residents of New Hope seem sharply divided on the prospect of a Wawa megastore across from the local firehouse, based on interviews, while Solebury citizens appear to be leaning against the new location, which is closer to population centers there, and the township historically has been a leader in environmental protection and preservation.

“The gas and the building are actually in New Hope,” explained Mike Fitzpatrick, who served as a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district from 2005 to 2007, and from 2011 until earlier this year, when his brother Brian took over the job. He’s currently an attorney with powerhouse Philadelphia law firm Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP, who have been retained by Wawa.

Mike Fitzpatrick (L) out pitching the proposed Wawa megstore on Saturday.

Fitzpatrick said the project has the support of New Hope’s leaders, but recognized Solebury would be more challenging.

“Borough council has basically pretty much said that they want this,” Fitzpatrick said. “Solebury remains to be seen.”

In fact, a yet to be named Solebury-based group has been circulating a “Mega Wawa Critique,” which has been seen by township leaders. That epistle outlines key objections to the Wawa expansion, including aesthetics (an eye-catching building design and illuminated awnings that clash with local architecture), water contamination risk (underground gas storage tanks could leak into the Aquetong watershed), and adverse traffic impact (the Route 202 and Sugan Road intersection is already overburdened).

Those opposed to the project are also concerned about light and noise pollution. Since Wawa will be open 24/7, they worry about constant night time illumination, and that fuel and other deliveries will add to noise and congestion. They’re also not convinced that Wawa’s entry into fuel retailing will break up Lukoil’s local gas monopoly, saying a new duopoly will likely collude on prices.

Likewise, opponents of the proposed superstore don’t believe it will provide competition for Giant Supermarket or a realistic grocery alternative for consumers. And megastore detractors bemoan the destruction of natural open space and the creation of a huge impermeable surface.

Wawa said the increase in road traffic will be imperceptible.

“Although there will be a small increase, it will not be noticeable when compared to all of the cars already on the roadway,” the company asserted in a statement.

In terms of the effect on surrounding neighborhoods, Wawa said the impact would be small.

“The new store will be located at an existing signalized intersection of two busy roadways, so the area already has noise and lighting impacts. Adding the Wawa will allow for an opportunity to improve the buffer to the surrounding community with substantial landscaping and fencing.”

Wawa also said the new site will feature “neighborhood-friendly” lighting, and that the architecture of the building and fuel canopy will “conform aesthetically to the surrounding Bucks County area.”

The company underscored the creation of 15 new jobs, and the proposed outlet’s contribution to the local tax infrastructure and economy. Wawa also said their gasoline operation will feature value pricing and free air.

“We are encouraged about the new opportunities in New Hope and Solebury with our proposed expansion,” Wawa said in a statement. “With any proposed development or re-investment in our communities, it’s our top priority to be a good neighbor and follow the processes set forth by our local municipalities. It is our hope that our process of open discussions in the community, dialogue and transparency will always help us come to the best decision for every community we serve.”

Wawa is the largest convenience store chain in Pennsylvania, and also operates in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Florida and Virginia.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

About the Author

- “Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein

Displaying 14 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. origin11@comcast.net' JaneAdele says:

    Two issues to consider here:

    1. It’s been said that having a gas station on 202 would not bring in extra traffic. I believe this is short-sighted. Of course it will bring in more traffic, as there is not another gas station on 202 between Flemington/Ringoes and Buckingham. When travelers see the Wawa on 202, of course they’ll stop for gas. A serious traffic/impact study needs to be made.

    2. There are currently no sidewalks along the west side of Sugan. There are currently no crosswalks across Sugan near the proposed site. Of course people will be walking and jogging to the Wawa for coffee and sandwiches. It MUST be made safe for them to cross. Sugan and 202 is such a busy intersection as it is. Will a crosswalk actually be safe?

  2. jcrilley3@comcast.net' JoeSchmoe says:

    Move the Wawa. The current one is overburdened and I think some competition for Lukoil is way overdue.

  3. fran7842@aol.com' Frank McDyer says:

    The borough needs to place stipulations on the project to minimise harmful effects. There are concerns about lighting; it could ban illuminated signage, and insist that astronomers be consulted to minimize light pollution. Obviously, a traffic study is in order. Some left turns will need to be banned. An additional tax should be levied to ensure a lack of environmental harm. State and federal regulators are notoriously underfunded; local efforts, such as frequent environmental testing, may be needed to keep Wawa accountable for not polluting. Solebury already has a truck inspection unit; this is a great time for New Hope to have a handful of its officers certified to enforce the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

  4. sacpenn@hotmail.com' Funbud says:

    I don’t see a problem. The current location is outdated and overburdened. Perhaps it can be put to a more efficient and attractive use by a new tenant. While I would welcome any competition for our (lousy) Giant supermarket, I don’t really view Wawa as being in the same marketplace. I haven’t bought gas at Lukoil in 10 years (their pricing is outrageous even when gas prices are low) so I would also welcome another venue to purchase fuel from. My main concerns would be the appearance of the new Wawa and the landscaping.

  5. Rcgaynor@mail.com' Bob says:

    Mike Fitzpatrick? Now you know this is a Terrible idea.

  6. I don’t see how the new location for Wawa would negatively impact the fire house. If anything, it would make it easier for the first responders to get coffee and food! Dennis Mankin is a fear monger. He has no common sense.

  7. One gas station in town, the traffic situation in the current location is bad and will only get worse. Such a dangerous location today with a narrow step street intersecting West Bridge is a mess.

    I’m in support of the WaWa moving. That’s a much better location and certainly much better for traffic in the area.

    What do you think is going to happen with that land? Someone’s going to just pay taxes on it for the birds and the bees? 202 is a significant artery is a welcome addition to the town.

    Good Luck WaWa.

  8. travisgleck@gmail.com' Travis says:

    What a terrible idea. I agree with Dennis above regarding the fire house and first responders. the corner of sugan and 202 is dark at night besides the traffic light. the
    lighting will definitely be annoying. every mega wawa is always packed. rt 1 in Lawrenceville, Burlington. the neighborhoods across 202 will hate this and should oppose it. to the gas price point, lambertville has two right next to each other, maybe .01 difference at any given time.

  9. I was concerned that the article did not adequately address what I see as the most important question relating to the proposed new WaWa: the location across from the Eagle Fire Hall where our emergency responders are stationed. Anyone who has visited a super WaWa can see the traffic congestion related to them — I invite anyone to visit the Flemington store where egress and ingress are confusing and difficult. All the traffic congestion now at Bridge and Sugar would move up to the 202 intersection. Only then it could block the emergency responders trying to get into and out of the fire hall. Traffic at that intersection already frequently back up to the fire station access. With cars turning into and out of a new WaWa, it will only get worse, and I wonder if I am going to vote new taxes to get better ambulance service, only to find the ambulance gets stuck trying to get out of the forestation. Fitzpatrick is quoted as saying the traffic will be better — but what traffic studies have been done to back that up. Common sense says that is nonsense. A look at Flemington confirms that.

    • msumi@comcast.net' Mike says:

      It seems to me that the Firestation needs an egress to 202 in the same way that this proposal has access/egress on 202. Bridge street is a traffic disaster with the existing WaWa, the exceedingly popular Cornerstone gym, post office, etc.. No surprise that the HS has blocked access via Bridge St. around the shoulders of the school day. If this shifts some of the burden off Bridge St. that’s not necessarily bad. Sucks to be in North Pointe and backing up to 202 but what the hell did you expect moving to a neighborhood with a US highway running next to it.

      • Ksberna@msn.com' Kathy says:

        The property in Solebury Township is zoned residential. When the homes were built/purchased it was understood that their would not be commercial properties across from the homes. Re zoning the property to commercial will adversely affect the Fieldstone & North Pointe residences. Solebury Township will also be setting precedence for future rezoning requests on 202 throughout the township.

  10. infinityangel7c443@yahoo.com' Dale Malvern says:

    can’t believe new hope boro is already bought off.

  11. I want the new store. If I was Wawa, I’d be talking with Lambertville. If I couldn’t get what I want I’d move. Losing Wawa’s tax revenue would be stupid.

  12. The new location will serve to reduce the traffic hazard we all experience at the current location. This type of facility provides a needed convenience to support efforts to grow our area as a visitor destination. Wawa has a reputation of supporting local sports activity..something we need.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>