Appeal against Falls Wawa with fuel sales withdrawn
By Thomas Friestad
Posted Aug 6, 2018 at 4:01 PM | Updated Aug 6, 2018 at 4:01 PM
The owners of the Plaza Shell service station pulled their appeal contesting that a Wawa with gas pumps could legally be built within 600 feet of their station under Falls code. Developer Morrisville Commons has the go-ahead to start construction on the project.
A court case that impeded construction on a proposed Wawa in Falls for over a year has been discontinued, opening the door for the project to proceed.
The owners of the Plaza Shell service station in Morrisville moved last week to withdraw their appeal from state Commonwealth Court. At question was whether the fuel-selling Wawa counted as a service station and therefore violated the Falls code that requires a 1,500-foot minimum distance between stations. The Shell is about 600 feet away.
Falls supervisors made two votes in May 2017, first to allow a Wawa where West Trenton Avenue intersects Pine Grove Road, and then to approve onsite fuel sales. Plaza Shell appealed the fuel-sale vote to county court the next month, accusing the board of violating the township’s requirement between service stations.
County Judge Gary Gilman asked the board last year to research its code’s legislative history concerning service stations, and, in December, supervisors reaffirmed their approval for Wawa’s fuel sales at a short public hearing.
The board — and Wawa — had argued that Wawa was a convenience store, not a service station, under township code, which defines service stations as “providing for the sale of fuel, lubricants, automotive accessories, maintenance and minor repairs for motor vehicles.” The Wawa would not provide maintenance or minor repairs.
Gilman issued a decision in favor of the supervisors in late March, saying that the board rightly resolved a question concerning an “ambiguous” ordinance “in favor of the landowner and in favor of the least restrictive use of the land.”
Plaza Shell appealed Gilman’s decision in late April but discontinued the case before a Commonwealth Court judge could weigh in.
The proposed Wawa is slated to be built near a completed Rite Aid pharmacy and the future site of a drive-thru restaurant, on 8.7 acres developer Morrisville Commons owns near the Falls-Morrisville border.