Reporting Jenn Bernstein
By Jenn Bernstein
CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. (CBS) – On Wednesday night, the Borough Council will hold a public hearing on whether to pass a proposed text amendment to a Conshohocken zoning ordinance.
It would allow a Wawa to be built at a main intersection in the borough — 11th and Fayette Streets — with ten fueling stations.
The site held the Moore Chevrolet car dealership for decades, and residents across the street aren’t happy about the new proposal.
They include Adam DePietro and his wife, who have enjoyed their home on Fayette Street for more than thirty years. Their porch is their favorite spot to unwind.
“Normally, we sit out here when weather permits,” said DePietro.
And the empty lot sits directly across four lanes of traffic, near the intersection.
“I’m totally against it,” said DePietro. “It’s worth my life to walk across the street now, without the more traffic that’s bound to happen.”
DePietro’s neighbor, homeowner Sam Marino, says he’s not completely against it but also has concerns.
“I think they have the right to do what they want to do,” said Marino. “If it’s too much for me, after one year…I’m going to put arborvitaes around the whole front of my property, a nice little fountain and bench here, and I’m going to rent my place out.”
Certain area businesses are also worried a large chain like Wawa could put them out of business.
But there are impassioned arguments on both sides.
“I like Wawa, and more Wawa sounds good to me,” said Conshohocken resident Jared Seiler.
On the same side of the issue, Conshohocken resident Rob Rigsby decided to put a music video called “The Gobbler: We Want Wawa in Conshohocken” on YouTube in support of the Wawa.
“Competition is great for a consumer,” said Rigsby. “It lowers prices, spawns innovation, and it’s really the best for the consumer, which I think is the one that should have just as loud a voice as everyone else.”
Wawa says the store will bring more than 40 jobs and is a neighborhood design.
In a statement, the business said:
“We’ve been an integral part of the Conshohocken community for more than 40 years. Our goal is to improve and enhance our ability to serve this community and to complement their plans. We’ve designed a neighborhood store with many unique features to enable us to provide the highest level of quality and convenience to Conshohocken. With this new store, we will also create more than 40 new jobs in addition to contributing significantly to the community, the tax infrastructure and the local economy. We are a hometown company and started with one store almost 50 years ago.”
The Conshohocken Revitalization Alliance is against the Wawa location, and said so in a statement.
“The fact of the matter is that Wawa is proposing a zoning amendment to develop a high intensity gas station in the middle of a residential community. The proposal conflicts with the community’s 2011 Revitalization Plan which explicitly prohibits such a development. Approval would undoubtedly lead to increased traffic, noise and safety problems throughout the community.”
After two previous public hearings, the Borough’s Planning Commission did vote not to recommend the Council pass the amendment.
Council members scheduled their vote for April 17th.