Wawa has been wrangling with Newtown Township to build a superstore (combination gas station and convenience store) on the Newtown Bypass for over 5 years (see the complete timeline). Just when it seemed that the finish line was in sight, Provco Pinegood Newtown, LLC (representing Wawa), bowed out of the race (read “Newtown Wawa Developers Just Stood Up Supervisors at a Big Meeting”) – for now. To better understand how we got to this point and what may be the next step in this drawn out process, I created my "Wawa Versus Newtown Township Timeline."
Some Notable Highlights
May 10, 2017: Two Newtown supervisors propose to lease land in Silver Lake Park on Newtown Bypass to Wawa believing that the property can be used "without setting zoning precedents." Not only is that not true, but the land was sold to Newtown by Bucks County with the restriction that it can never be developed. One resident in attendance – John D’Aprile – opposed the idea saying “it’s crazy” to put gasoline next to the creek. Listen to his comments.
May 14, 2018: Wawa presents a "sketch plan" for a combination gas station/convenience store on Newtown Bypass and Lower Silverlake Road.
October 16, 2018: First mention of a text amendment to the zoning ordinance to permit this use at the intersection of two public streets, specifying that one street must be Newtown Bypass.
October 16, 2019: Provco Pineville Acquisitions, LLC (owner of property where Wawa want to build) filed with the Court of Common Pleas a challenge to Validity of the JMZO because the township did not have a permitted use for a combination gas station and convenience store.
December 2019: Newtown Declaration Invoking Procedure for Municipal Curative Amendment
September 23, 2020: The Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved by a 3-2 vote (Davis and Mack voted “No”) the E-30 so-called “curative amendment”
March 17, 2021: Provco filed an application with the ZHB requesting a special exception pursuant to Section 50 1.A. 3. g of the JMZO to permit a Use E-30 Motor Vehicle Fueling and Convenience Store at the Property ("Special Exception Application"). Provco's Special Exception Application also sought several variances related to the number of fueling stations and signs.
September 20, 2021: Wawa's Request for Zoning Variances Denied
December 2021: Wawa submits preliminary Land Development Plan.
April 13, 2022: Planning Commission recommends that the BOS NOT approved Wawa's latest Land Development Plan
April 29, 2022: Provco Pineville Acquisitions, LLC, files with the Court of Common Pleas an appeal from the Decision of the Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board.
May 11, 2022: Wawa decides at last minute not to present its plan to the BOS (read “Newtown Wawa Developers Just Stood Up Supervisors at a Big Meeting”).
July 7, 2022: Provco/Wawa submits Highway Occupancy Permit (HOP) to PennDOT. Download the submission documents.
July 15, 2022: At the July 13, 2022, BOS meeting Supervisor Mack insisted that Wawa must extend the deadline for the BOS to review its plan (see the video). On July 15, 2022, the Provco attorney notified Township that it grants the BOS an extension to September 30, 2022, in order to make a decision on the Wawa preliminary/final land development plan. Download the attorney’s letter.
September 27, 2022: Wawa bails out again one day before it was scheduled to appear before the BOS! The township received a letter from John VanLuvanee (find a copy to the letter here) which said: "Provco Pinegood Newtown, LLC has authorized me to grant the Township an extension of the time period within which the Board of Supervisors is required to take action on its pending preliminary/final land development plan application through October 31, 2022. Please put this matter on the agenda for the October 26, 2022 Board of Supervisors meeting.”
October 26, 2022: BOS denies Preliminary/Final Plan approval for Provco Pinegood Newtown, LLC (Wawa) by a 3-2 vote. Supervisors John Mack, Elen Snyder, and Kyle Davis voted against, while Dennis Fisher and Phil Calabro voted in favor.
January 30, 2023: At a special session of the Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) on January 30, 2023, Provco/Wawa appealed the ZHB's 2021 denial of all signage and fuel dispenser variances to the JMZO E30 zoning ordinance (read “Wawa's Request for Zoning Variances Denied!”).
Wawa is challenging Section 803.E.30.3, Section 1103.CA, and Section 1101.A of the ordinance, as "arbitrary, unreasonable, and not substantially related to the purposes of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), or the public health, safety, or welfare of Newtown Township that the JMZO purports to serve" (refer to the “Amended ZHB #1104-19 Provco Pinegood Newtown LLC Substative Challenge”).
Specifically, Wawa wants to have 8 fueling dispensers (16 pumps) whereas the E30 ordinance allows only 6 and it wants signage facing or visible to the Bypass, which is also prohibited by Newtown zoning codes.
See the complete summary of the meeting with audio of testimony ad a transcript: “Provco/Wawa Appeals ZHB’s Decision: 30 Jan 2023”
March 11, 2023: 2nd hearing Hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board: Newtown vs. Wawa’s Substantive Validity Challenge to the E30 JMZO ordinance. See “Wawa Traffic Engineer Says Monument Sign Needed to Mitigate Dangerous Condition on Bypass That Would Be Caused By Wawa!”
Provco expert testified testified that if Provco is not allowed to put a monument sign on the bypass alerting motorists of the store and gas station, it could create a dangerous condition on the bypass with motorists making split second decisions to make the turn onto Silver Lake Road after realizing there’s a Wawa there. Under the E30 ordinance, signs are prohibited along the limited access Newtown Bypass.
May 24, 2023: A third BOS Executive Session was held to discuss Provco/Wawa litigation. This meeting was not open to the public.
June 14, 2023: The Newtown Board of Supervisors approve a settlement agreement [LINK: https://bit.ly/Wawa_Settlement_060523] by a 3-2 vote (Fisher, Snyder, and Calabro vote YEA, Mack and Davis vote NAY). This agreement, which settles all court cases filed against the township by Provco/Wawa, includes a Wawa "Monument Sign" at the intersection of the Newtown Bypass and Lower Silver Lake Road facing the Bypass. Also included to win over the vote of at least one BOS member is a solar power panel array above the fuel pumps.
The complete up-to-date timeline is embedded below. You can also download the PDF file.
Posted on 23 Jun 2023, 01:56 - Category: Development