Horsham OK’s Horsham Village Conditional Use
By Christopher Ullery, staff writer | Posted: Monday, March 28, 2016 9:16 pm
A new 24-hour Wawa gas station along Easton Road is one step closer to construction following unanimous approval of a conditional use application by Horsham council Monday night.
The gas station would be one of several businesses in Horsham Village Plaza along Route 611 (Easton Road) at Blair Mill and New roads — land now occupied by the former Intelligencer Horsham bureau and Williamson Banquet Event Center.
During six public hearings that went on for almost as many months, 45 residents were granted party status and voiced concerns over the potential public safety and nuisance the gas station could create.
But Mary Eberle, the township solicitor, said she advised council it had no option but to approve the application because of a state statute.
“A conditional use, unlike how it sounds, is not a use the council can deny if it feels like it and approve if it feels like it,” she said. “If the applicant meets the specific requirements in the zoning ordinance for a conditional use, council has no choice but to grant the application.”
But Eberle added that council was able to get the developer, Horsham-Blair LP, to meet over 30 conditions before moving forward.
Included in road improvements agreed to by Horsham-Blair is re-timing the traffic signal at Easton and Blair Mill roads and eliminate the intersection of New and Easton roads. Council also included a condition that there will be no exit from the plaza into the residential area on New Road.
The plaza could also include a CVS Pharmacy and three sit-down restaurants, but council added a condition that no fast food restaurants be permitted.
The Wawa will also be required to install security cameras that will be accessible to Horsham Police Department.
The gas station may also have to move its pumps farther from neighboring residences if the township deems it possible during the land development phase.
The close proximity of the gas pumps to neighboring homes has been an issue brought up by residents like William Carr, who also represented the Evergreen Terrace Homeowners Association in the hearing.
“The conditions addressed some of the concerns that we had, but the bottom line is that we still have a convenience store, 24 hours, with fuel dispensing facilities in a residential neighborhood,” Carr said.
Fearing the decision could set a precedence for future “commercial intrusion” in residential areas, Carr said he and the other residents would continue their involvement in this and future land development.
“What’s next? Which developer comes in next, buys a couple properties and asks to make them commercial,” Carr said.
A full copy of the adjudication is expected to be online in the near future, Eberle said.