Lobb said that he does not oppose Wawa's building a 5,000-square-foot convenience store with 16 gas pumps across from the Elverson National Bank on Route 100 but that he wants Wawa to make the structure a better fit, through design touches like stone accents, a turreted roof, and colonial-style gas canopies.
"People who want to go to the Wawa will go to the Wawa no matter how it looks," he said. "I just don't think there is one way to do this."
Wawa executives see the situation differently. According to Joseph Brion, a West Chester lawyer representing the company, Wawa prefers not to alter its buildings because it has developed a trademark look. He also said even minor cosmetic changes can require expensive floor-plan revisions.
That's not to say design changes have never been made, however. A Wawa spokeswoman said locations in Chadds Ford and Philadelphia and several in central New Jersey have been retooled to mesh with neighborhood architecture.
Brion said Wawa considers Eagle an important-enough location - nearly 1,700 dwellings are slated to be built in the .area in the next 10 years - to compromise with officials on the project's design. He said a new set of plans, showing stone accents on the front of the building, have been prepared.
"We've not only agreed to the stone, but we've agreed to also add significant landscaping and trees," he said. "And the Wawa gas canopy is already much more pleasing than what I'll call 'the Standard Oil canopy' because they have a pitch to them."
Although supervisors have yet to see Wawa's revisions, Brandywine Conservancy's Environmental Management Center, the organization's land-planning arm, has reviewed them and recommended approval.
In a letter to the township dated Dec. 20, John Snook, a land planner with the conservancy, said he believed that Wawa had made sufficient design compromises and that the building "would not be an eyesore."
Upper Uwchlan Township Manager John Roughan said he believes the Wawa project can be salvaged if the Planning Commission likes the revisions. It is set to discuss the new proposal Jan. 13.
"The design of the Wawa has not been worked out to the township's satisfaction, but that doesn't mean that it won't be," Roughan said.
If the Planning Commission gives preliminary approval in January, he said, the Wawa could be open for business by Labor Day.
Wawa is not the only company asked by Upper Uwchlan supervisors to doll up buildings with old-fashioned facades. Lobb said the township is exerting similar pressure on Smaltz's Harley-Davidson Inc. and Landhope Farms, both of which want to expand.
And developer Jack Loew is working with township officials to give a planned 57,000-square-foot Acme Market in Eagle architectural accents.
In addition to the Wawa in Eagle, the company is looking to transform a location a few miles down Route 100 in Uwchlan into a Super Wawa. Residents on Rutgers Drive and local gas-station owners have voiced opposition to that project since it was proposed last summer. Uwchlan's Zoning Hearing Board is scheduled to consider the plan Wednesday.