Misconception about the Wawa issue

On a regular basis when we post an article about the Wawa saga, there will be several readers who comment with something like “they allowed a hotel and big office building, but not a Wawa.”

Those comments are not correct.

The creation of the zoning district that allowed a developer to put a hotel, office building, parking garage, etc. at the corner of West Elm Street and Fayette Street was approved in May of 2017. The project is currently under construction. The vote was 6-0. Robert Stokley (R) recused himself. Voting for it were Colleen Leonard (D), Jane Flanagan (D), Tina Sokolowski (D), Karen Tutino (D), Ike Griffin (D), and Anita Barton (D).

In November of that same year (2017), Borough Council voted to amend the zoning code to allow a Wawa type business to operate along Fayette Street between 8th Avenue and the Whitemarsh border. The vote was 4-3. Colleen Leonard (D), Jane Flanagan (D), Tina Sokolowski (D), and Robert Stokley (R) voted for it. Karen Tutino (D), Ike Griffin (D), and Anita Barton (D) voted against it.

As you will notice, both votes involved all the same names.

The reason, at this point, that the Wawa has not gone forward is due to legal challenges to the ordinance by a group of neighbors. Thus far in that process, Conshohocken’s Zoning Hearing Board ruled that the ordinance passed in November of 2017 was invalid. The developer and the Borough than appealed that decision and a judge agreed with them and overruled the Zoning Hearing Board. That decision is now being appealed by the neighbors and has yet to be decided.

The Wawa was voted against by a previous Borough Council in 2013, but that is not the Borough Council that voted to change the zoning to allow SORA West. The Zoning Hearing Board also voted against the Wawa in 2016, but that body did not have a role in approving SORA West.

So to recap, the same Borough Council that approved the development currently under construction on the unit block of Fayette Street actually did approve the Wawa.