Penndel planning commission OKs Wawa, Rite Aid
By Vic Monaco, correspondent | Posted: Friday, April 1, 2016 4:00 am
A plan for a large Wawa and Rite Aid pharmacy in Penndel is one step closer to fruition.
The Penndel Planning Commission on Thursday gave its conditional approval, and now the proposal is expected to go before the borough council in May.
The project is planned by developer Tom Verrichia for a 3-acre tract bounded by Lincoln Highway and Bellevue, Park and Lincoln avenues and would transform the small town’s business district. In addition, according to the development team, it would “drastically improve” drainage for a property that lacks any stormwater management system.
“Right now you have no protection,” said project traffic engineer Matt Hammond. “You’ll have state of the art.”
The Wawa, comprising 5,605 square feet, would front on Bellevue. The free-standing pharmacy, comprising 15,000 square feet, would face Park. The project also calls for 12 gas pumps under an 18-foot canopy and 105 parking spaces.
Some of the conditions attached to the preliminary and final approval of the commission are centered on maintaining downtown parking.
Hammond told the commission that the current plan, which is favored by PennDOT, would move the six or seven parking spaces on the east side of Bellevue, north of Lincoln Highway, to the west side where the development is planned. It also would remove six or seven spots on the north side of nearby Durham Road and three spots on the south side of Bellevue, both to install turning lanes.
At the suggestion of solicitor Mike Savona, the commission asked that the developer investigate saving some of the spaces on the north side of Bellevue, where there are local businesses. In addition, one of its conditions is to work with the borough on creating public parking or pay the town for lost parking meter revenue.
There would be traffic access to the Wawa and Rite Aid from all four streets. The latest plan calls for just one entrance along Lincoln Highway. It also includes re-striping to create left turn lanes on eastbound Lincoln Highway onto Bellevue and on westbound Lincoln Highway onto Durham.
Hammond predicted the development team could get PennDOT approval by late fall or early winter.
Other conditions include the developer working with SEPTA on a bus stop or shelter on Lincoln Highway and Bellevue and improved pedestrian access to the site from that corner.
Savona first suggested the commission grant only preliminary approval because traffic changes are still a bit up in the air, as the developer continues to work with PennDOT. It seemed the commission, with several new members, was leaning that way. But project attorney Tom Hecker said the development team would return to the planning commission in any case if PennDOT called for any significant changes. And Brian Keavney, the borough’s traffic consultant, said he feels comfortable PennDOT will go along with the current traffic plan.
In the end, the commission granted preliminary and final approval. Hecker said he expects to bring the plan to the borough council in May.
Verrichia has agreements of sale with the owners of five of seven business owners mostly along Lincoln Highway and the other two have agreed to allow the development process to move ahead while they continue to negotiate, according to Hecker.
Once construction begins, which could be as early as next winter, all of those businesses would be torn down, along with a former PECO building on the property.