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Wawa: Application Withdrawn Due to Zoning Change Denial

Media Real Estate has withdrawn Wawa's application with Media Borough for a proposed project at the former Media Inn vacant lot.

Wawa has decide to no longer pursue its proposed project at the gateway to Media Borough at the former Media Inn vacant lot and Media Real Estate, the developer for the project, has pulled the application.

Vice President of Administration and Development at Media Real Estate Jeffry Cadorette said that Media Real Estate, which owns the vacant lot, has withdrawn its application with Media Borough.

"Wawa is no longer pursuing the site as an option, so we stopped the process," Cadorette said. "Right now, we feel like we've been hit in the stomach. We're very frustrated and disappointed (with the borough)."

 

Wawa Public Relations Manager Lori Bruce offered this statement Friday:

"The application for the Wawa store on Baltimore Pike has officially been withdrawn because the planning commission did not support the re-zoning necessary to build a Wawa store in this location. We are disappointed that the commission did not support the request, but as always remain fully committed to following the process set forth by the borough. We consider Media our 'hometown' and will continue to explore options for development in Media."

The Media Borough Planning Commission recently opposed a zoning request change regarding the vacant property. A small portion of the lot is currently zoned R3-Residential and would need to be changed to Business in order for any project to move forward there.

Although Media Borough Council or Planning Commission had not yet voted on Wawa's application, Cadorette said, it was clear the majority of borough council did not approve of a Wawa at the proposed location, bordered by Baltimore Avenue, State Street and Providence Road.

"It was clear from day one that the majority of borough council didn't want a Wawa there," he said.

Media Borough Council President Brian Hall said the application withdraw was "very unexpected."

He said borough council had concerns about the project, especially concerns about an increase in traffic, but all signs that the project was continuing through the process were apparent.

"It's surprising that there was a commitment there and mid-way through the process they withdrew," Hall said.

The planning commission made several plan suggestions to Wawa, including a change of business model by suggesting outdoor sitting at the convenience store, solar panels and an electric car charging station, when Wawa brought its formal application to the commission in November.

Hall said borough council had expressed its concerns about the project but had expected to see a version of the first proposed plan to come before the planning commission and then borough council for a vote.

When a developer submits a formal application, the application must first be approved by the planning commission, which then recommends approval or denial to borough council.

"I expected to see changes to the project by the end of the process," Hall said. "Our role is to make decisions based on the information we have and I'm not sure what the project would have looked like by the time it got back to council."

Cadorette said when Wawa submits an application in most towns it sometimes receives opposition from the public but almost always has municipal support.

"We're used to some opposition or lack of public support and we deal with that," Cadorette said, "But it was opposite here. We had public support and didn't have municipal support."

No development project ever has immediate, unanimous support, he said, but based on polls and networking with the public, Media Real Estate believed there was public and business support for this project. 

He said the Wawa project would have been viable for Media Borough, bringing tax revenue, new jobs and would enhance Media's gateway and promote State Street businesses and events.

"Out of respect for this large corporation that considers Media its hometown, it would have been nice if the borough at least had a conversation instead of slamming the door shut," Cadorette said. "I really think it's a loss for Media."

Cadorette said Media Real Estate will "let the dust settle" before they consider another option for the property.

Requested Zoning Change

The Borough Planning Commission recently opposed and recommended to Borough Council to oppose a zoning request change regarding the vacant property. The re-zoning was expected to be on borough council's December legislative meeting agenda.

A small portion of the lot is currently zoned R3-Residential and would need to be changed to Business in order for any project to move forward there. The same small lot portion was originally zoned for business until a 1989 re-zoning initiative that changed it to residential.

Cadorette said the zoning request change will continue through the process since it stands independent from the Wawa application.

He said the small portion of the lot needs to be changed back to business zoned in order for any project to move forward.

"It's obviously a parking lot, not a residential lot," he said.

 

J December 15, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Thank god we have a borough council which actually represents the concerns of the residents of media. I don't know anyone in the immediate area of this who was in favor of the plan.
Michael Jordan December 15, 2012 at 12:54 PM
MRE tried to shoehorn Wawa into this site where there is already tremendous traffic. Right now Starbucks entrance and exit causes problems. Imagine 16 gas pumps and a store with thousands of customers every day. A nighmare for congestion and accidents.
J December 15, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Media Real Estate is always just trying to make a buck. Slumlords of Media. They don't care about congestion and accidents. Come on now.
Pamela December 15, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Personally, I would rather see a Wawa that is open 24 hours there than a Starbucks which is probably the real reason Wawa was going to be turned down. I always feel safe at Wawa because that is where the police go to get coffee.
Michael Jordan December 15, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I have nothing against MRE or the Strine Family. They have done some very good things for Media. But the common good and government zoning and variance rules must be paramount. I would have been for the WaWa project if Starbucks--a sore thumb--sticking out at Providence and Balitmore Pike wasn't there. (Now just entering and existing Starbucks is a problem with traffic.) Put Wawa in the mix and you have Armageddon. The Planning Commission made the right choice by NOT supporting this project. Future generations will benefit from their wise decision.
Roger Ricker December 16, 2012 at 06:20 AM
How about a Super Wawa across from Mango's on Baltimore Pike, near the Sunoco? That lot is empty.
Joseph D'Alessandro December 16, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I was in favor of the project; I think that the Planning Commission should have been looking for ways to make it work. Joe D'Alessandro
Andrea December 17, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I had concerns about the project, so I'm alright with this result. A hotel there makes much more sense -- don't know if it's really a feasible option, in terms of zoning and finances and MRE's interests -- but you would solve many problems with that kind of business in that space: 1) Much less in-and-out traffic congesting an already congested intersection; 2) jobs -- both in the near term and future; 3) the possibility for a very pleasing facade and gateway business to Media; and 4) meeting the great need for a decent hotel in this town.
Ken Park December 24, 2012 at 03:17 AM
My family was, although we live in NP. We have always missed our Wallingford wawa and the media one is insane as far as traffic flow. The the traffic concerns are a little late since the approval of the most dangerous lot in the borough, Starbucks. Perhaps wawa would allow parking for starbucks, so the nonsense with both the Northbound Baltimore Pk and Northbound 252. Its not the Starbucks' customer's that are insane, it is the fault of whoever approved that to begin with. Like I said, too little to late. Build the Wawa! Or how about having a Dollar General as the gateway to Media. Come on Borough, You can help design that whole crossroads. Do it.

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