PennDot officials have already developed preliminary engineering drawings for the 3.5-acre parking lot that would lie on the north side of the SEPTA tracks about 400 yards east of the Wallingford station on the R3 route.
Through a series of tests, PennDot has concluded that the parking lot would not adversely affect the surrounding environment and residential communities, O'Brien said.
The agency had previously considered several locations along the nearby Blue Route for possible park-and-ride facilities, including a tract owned by the Wilson Oil Co., but the Duer site became the most attractive option
because of its proximity to the Wallingford station, O'Brien said.
The existing 60-space lot next to the station is often filled, O'Brien said, and a Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission study concluded the station could use the additional 88 spaces.
The proposed lot also has the potential to be expanded from 88 to 281 spaces, O'Brien said.
The tract, overgrown with brush, trees and wetlands, is zoned for half- acre, single-family homes, according to a township zoning officer. PennDot would not need additional zoning permits for the parking lot, Township Manager Gary J. Cummings said. Parking related to railway train station use is allowed under the township's residential zoning permit, Cummings said.
As news of PennDot's proposal spreads through the township, officials are taking sides.
"I think it's the worst thing for Nether Providence that I've heard of
because it flies in the face of the township's concerns about preserving open space," said Commissioner Sara Lynn Petrosky.
"I don't think our residents want the parking lot, and I don't think anyone wants to see that land paved over," she said. "This may be part of a larger scheme for other things besides a parking lot. We need to get the community involved very quickly."
But Commissioner William B. Peck, whose house adjoins the Duer tract, supports PennDot's proposal. "There are some downsides to it, but this is probably a thing we ought to do," Peck said. "Additional parking at Wallingford Station is needed."
Some residents are questioning the need for the additional lot. Homeowner David E. Landau and some of his neighbors, who live along Dicks Creek, downstream from the Duer tract, oppose any development on the site because of flooding concerns.
In recent years, flooding along the creek has washed away bridges and stone walls, and water levels during heavy storms have covered some backyards, Landau said.
"People around here are in shock over this plan because the paving would create serious flooding dangers downstream just so people from other towns can drive in and use the Wallingford station," he said.
"This is not a partisan issue. People along Dicks Creek and on Turner Road are getting organized, and I think the plan is going to engender a lot of opposition. PennDot should have held this meeting as soon as they started talking about the site, not after they've already planned it."