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Developer Wants Plumstead to Change Its Zoning to Allow More Gas Pumps to Fit the Business Plan of a Super Wawa - A Lesson for Newtown

Until now Tom Verricchia chose to remain on the sidelines of his proposed Super Wawa development in Plumstead Township because as he says, “ I don’t like to air my business in public.”

 

On April 15, 2019 township supervisors appealed a court ruling on the project in favor of site-specific relief allowing the zoning changes so the Super Wawa could be built. Then Verricchia contacted local newspapers and released a publication “to inform the public of our frustration and fairly express the situation.”

 

In 2017 Plumstead’s zoning hearing board denied the requested variances to allow a 4,700-square-foot convenience store with 10 gas pumps in the Commercial I district at Ferry and Swamp roads.

 

Verricchia responded with the appeal to Bucks County Court of Common Pleas which was decided by Chester County Judge Robert Shenkin, who had been appointed to avoid a possible conflict of interest because Bucks County Judge Jeffery Trauger owned a property included in the plan.

 

In March 2019, Shenkin decided that the township zoning “unconstitutionally excludes a legitimate land use” and that the developer is entitled to site-specific relief to have gas pumps at this location.

 

Instead, Verricchia proposes “Plumstead change its zoning to include the modern day convenience store with gas pumps, with a size convenience store that is economically viable.” He said that his development company tries to fit into township zoning but Plumstead goes too far in limiting use by size restrictions.

 

“We are not carrying the flag of the modern convenience store industry,” said Verricchia.

 

“Most of the development industry wants us to go to Commonwealth Court to open this up to the state of Pennsylvania,” he continued.

 

Supervisor Dan Hilferty said recently at a township meeting, “A township does not have to change their zoning to fit the business plan of a Super Wawa.” Pennsylvania zoning law requires uses to be provided for but gives townships the legal authority to zone for size and intensity of uses.

 

“Plumstead has provided zoning for convenience stores with gas pumps in Commercial II zones, in other locations in the township. Just because a Super Wawa of 4,700 square feet and 10 gas pumps does not fit into the site’s size and intensity constraints does not mean that the zoning is unconstitutional or exclusionary,” explained Reiss, in a phone interview.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

The Super Wawa proposed for the Newtown Bypass would have 16 gas pumps (as opposed to the 10 in Plumstead). So if Newtown were to change its OR zoning to allow a convenience store plus fueling station, Wawa would demand 16 pumps even if the new zoning only allowed  for fewer pumps. 

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Newtown News of Interest
These Scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources that may be of interest to Newtown area residents. Please click on the "From" link to access the full original article. Any opinions and "insights" appended to these article summaries are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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