Gotta have a Wawa, but would prefer one closer to home? If you live in or near the Center Valley/Coopersburg area you should know that plans to bring the popular chain to a site in Upper Saucon Township are still progressing.
There hasn’t been any noticeable activity at the site of the proposed Wawa convenience store and gas station at Rt. 309 and Passer Road since plans were first outlined in June 2017, but a township official confirmed Tuesday that developments that would allow the gas station to be built have slowly been occurring behind the scenes over the past 17 months.
Upper Saucon Township Director of Community Development Patricia Lang, AICP, outlined several reasons for the slow progression, and stressed that “the township is not holding up the project or preventing it from moving forward.”
After the Wawa developer received zoning relief from the township’s Zoning Hearing Board in the spring of 2017, “a small rezoning was also required to include a portion of an adjacent parcel that was in a residential zoning district,” Lang explained. “After receiving the rezoning and the relief, the applicant prepared and submitted a land development plan for approval.”
Several roads that intersect near the property have also played a role in holding up the development.
“Because the project abuts two state owned/operated roadways, approval for ingress and egress from the site must be approved by PennDOT,” Lang said, referring to Rt. 309 and Passer Road. “Given the current conditions at this intersection and the high volume of traffic associated with a convenience store/gas station, a significant level of improvement will be mandated by PennDOT.”
A tiny township-owned road–Short Drive–runs roughly parallel to 309 and intersects with Passer Road on the west side of the Peppercorn Pub building, reconnecting with 309 south of the traffic light at Passer.
“The applicant (Wawa) requested the vacation (of Short Drive) but an adjoining landowner objected to the vacation and, as a result, the township was required to hold a public hearing to obtain testimony from both the applicant and objector,” Lang said, noting that the hearing was held Oct. 8 and paved the way for the street’s vacation.
“Now that the hurdle of the street vacation has been cleared, it is my understanding that the applicant will be refining/correcting their land development plan and resubmitting this information for review by the Township Planning Commission, possibly at their December meeting,” Lang said.
The Upper Saucon Township Planning Commission is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m.
After receiving a recommendation from the planning commission, the project will come before the Upper Saucon Township Board of Supervisors for final consideration and possible approval.
Lang said it’s currently expected that this will occur in early 2019, but said she doesn’t know the developer’s timeline for construction beyond that.
“There is a significant amount of demolition to be done at the site before any of the new infrastructure could begin to be installed,” she noted. “All of the residential and commercial structures currently located at the site are to be demolished.”
One of those buildings is the former Peppercorn Pub, a local landmark which was converted to an apartment building several years ago.