Approval for Wawa proposed across Solebury-New Hope border will take time
By Thomas Friestad | Posted Mar 13, 2018 at 5:17 PM
A Wawa gas station proposed on land consisting of four New Hope parcels and two Solebury parcels must come under scrutiny from municipal officials and receive zoning relief in both communities before its developer gets the go-ahead to build.
Officials anticipate a long road ahead for a proposed Wawa gas station straddling the municipal boundary between New Hope and Solebury.
Solebury officials might approach their counterparts in New Hope about arranging a joint meeting to discuss the project, said supervisor Chairwoman Helen Tai. Both municipalities must independently review and approve the Wawa before developer Buckingham Retail Properties can start building, though a joint meeting between the two communities is not required.
Tai noted that New Hope officials have not formally answered Solebury’s requests to meet and discuss one separate matter: the municipalities’ contributions toward shared services, including Solebury’s parks and recreation programs. “It’s concerning when your neighbor isn’t willing to engage, but we’ll continue to make our attempts,” she said.
Asked whether friction between the two municipalities could impact how quickly the Wawa could be approved, Tai said, “I can only speak for Solebury in that we will do what we can to serve the interests of our residents.” “If we believe that a joint meeting with New Hope would be beneficial, then we would definitely reach out to them,” she said.
Reached by phone, New Hope Council President Alison Kingsley declined to comment on the prospect of a meeting with Solebury officials about the proposed Wawa.
Even if no joint meetings take place, the 5,585-square foot Wawa and six gas pumps could take awhile to clear required zoning relief and land ownership hurdles, beyond the traffic concerns shared at a recent Solebury meeting.
“The fact that the developer chose a site split between two municipalities necessarily means it will take longer than otherwise, just because there are so many more approvals,” Tai said.
The Wawa store and gas pumps, plus a two-way entrance onto Sugan Road, would be set on four parcels in New Hope, while two parcels in Solebury would hold parking spaces and another two-way entrance onto Route 202.
Though New Hope’s parcels are part of the borough’s highway commercial district, which by right permits gas stations and convenience stores, one Solebury parcel is set in the township’s residential development district, which permits neither. Another Solebury parcel is set in its traditional neighborhood commercial district, which permits convenience stores as a principal use but requires separate conditional approval to allow gas stations.
Tai said supervisors do not yet know which variances the developer will request because it has not yet submitted a formal development plan but that she does anticipate a large number of variance requests when that time comes.