After more than three hours of testimony by residents – nearly all of whom were opposed to the construction of a Wawa and quick-serve restaurant near the intersection of Route 70 and Dusquene Boulevard – the township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment narrowly defeated a motion to allow the construction to go forward.
The vote Wednesday night ended a months-long saga and nearly a dozen hours of testimony that dates back to November, when the board first heard the application by Paramount Realty, the would-be developer of the property that was pitching the plan to build a Wawa store, gas station and quick-serve restaurant, rumored to be a Panera Break location.
The testimony throughout the months varied between lengthy explanations by experts hired by the developer to a flamboyant, objecting attorney who owns property adjacent to the site verbally sparring with the board chairman, attorney and land use experts hired by Wawa.
After about a dozen members of the public – mainly those from neighboring streets, such as Duquesne and North Lake Shore Drive – spoke out against the project, a motion was put forth to approve it. Because the application required what was known as a use variance, a simple majority of board members voting in favor was not enough to approve the application. Use variances require a “super majority” of five board members or more. In all, four members voted in favor of the project and three voted against it, resulting in a denial.
Neighbors were concerned with numerous aspects of the plan, including the fear of increased traffic on their streets and more transient visitors to their neighborhoods. They also put forth fears of noise and light pollution affecting their quality of life.
Jim Stoever, a long-time Duquesne resident who helped spearhead a parking ban on the street last year after a nearby business was inundating the street with traffic, told board members that it already takes him several minutes just to exit his drive way. Wawa promised to make the opening from the store onto North Lake Shore (adjacent to Duquesne) an entrance only to block traffic from entering local streets, but it was not enough to win over neighboring residents.
It is unclear as to whether or not Paramount will file a lawsuit – known as a perogative writ – to request a judge overturn the local board’s decision.
- Chairman Harvey Langer – YES
- Dawn Marie White – YES
- Stephen Leitner – YES
- Carl Anderson – YES
- Mike Jamnik – NO
- David Chadwick – NO
- Louis Sorrentino – NO