Wawa Did Not Help Themselves Last Night

Prior to last night’s meeting I had been told that both the Wawa developers and the Conshohocken Revitalization Alliance had been told to keep it short, to the point and focus on the actual Text Amendment.  When the presentation by Wawa opened up with a point-by-point rehashing of the proposal, it took about thirty minutes for council members to start whispering and have the Borough’s solicitor cut them off and request that they stick to the Text Amendment.  Wawa than doubled down and brought up a Wawa executive who started to go through Wawa’s corporate charitable and community involvement.  When that never went anywhere in regards to the Text Amendment, she was asked to submit it in writing.

Included as part of the Wawa presentation was a traffic study.  Once the evening reached the point where members of Borough Council asked questions, Borough Council President Paul McConnell grilled the traffic study expert on methodology and why other considerations, such as Wawa’s business plan, were not part of the formula in creating a traffic study.  The response that it was just not something considered when creating a traffic study did not seem to appease McConnell, who went on and questioned various projections in the study.  This tough questioning appeared to catch the Wawa side off guard.

One of the points made by the representative of Wawa was that they were willing to agree to limit deliveries from their trucks to a day time hours and these trucks would not enter or exit via East 11th Avenue.  A question about the sale of diesel fuel and preventing the use of East 11th Avenue by customers in trucks left the Wawa representative stumbling to answer the question without committing to prevent trucks from entering or exiting via 11th.  No commitment was made. During the public comment portion a local developer went into detail how construction crews operate and why they would end up at the proposed Wawa. A representative of Wawa did state that their pumps usually lack a mechanism for trucks to fuel quickly, which can discourage commercial use.

The Conshohocken Revitalization Alliance had attorney Gary DeVito speak on its behalf.  DeVito stressed the reasoning behind the vote made against the proposal by the Planning Commission.  He read the statement made by the head of the Planning Commission from the night the commission voted which listed the reasons the proposed Wawa does not fit within the Revitalization Plan.

Here are some general observations, etc:

  • At one point the Conshohocken Revitalization Alliance’s attorney stated the proposal includes 20 fuel pumps.  This was corrected to be 10 pumps from someone from Wawa, however, what was never clarified was that the 10 pumps offer 20 fueling stations.
  • Borough Council members asking questions were Paul McConnell, Raj Gupta, Matt Ryan and Anita Barton.  Eddie Phipps and Bob Stokely did not.  Ike Griffin did not attend.
  • Attorney Ross Weiss, who represents Wawa’s developers, once again said that 11th and Fayette is not a residential neighborhood.
  • I didn’t catch it, but one member of Borough Council pulled me aside post meeting and mentioned a reference to litigation by Weiss.  The council person referred to this as “disturbing”.
  • For the third time, the head of the Montco Democratic Party sat through the meeting without speaking.  He is an attorney representing Wawa.  Six of the seven members of Borough Council are Democrats and two are up for re-election this year.
  • MoreThanTheCurve.com came up twice during the meeting.  Commercial realtor  Gary DeMedio thanked MoreThanTheCurve.com for providing coverage and Weiss said “one of the local blogs” had criticized him for referring to Wawa as a “cornerstore.”
  • I spoke to a small handful of people post meeting and the consensus was that if a member of council was leaning towards voting in favor of the Wawa, this outcome of last night’s meeting provided them reason to reconsider that.

So now what?  Now it actually will get voted on by Borough Council on April 17th at 7:00 p.m. at the Washington Fire Company.  Stay tuned for more follow-up from MoreThanTheCurve.com.