Conshohocken rejects Wawa zoning change

Posted: April 19, 2013

A meeting of the Conshohocken Borough Council erupted in applause Wednesday night after the council voted, 6-1, against a zoning amendment that would have allowed a Wawa store and service station on Fayette Street.

Wawa requested the amendment to allow a convenience store and 10-pump station in an area zoned for residential and office uses. The company can push forward, but will now have to argue before the zoning board.

The proposal generated heated debate over the last few months, with community groups forming to lobby for and against the store. Traffic and the small-town feel of Conshohocken were the primary arguments against it; cheap gas was the primary argument for it.

There were about 100 people at Wednesday night's meeting, about half as many as attended the last hearing on the issue, in late March.

The proposed site, on Fayette between 11th and 12th Avenues, was the longtime home of Moore Chevrolet. The car dealership predated current zoning.

Before the vote, attorney Ross Weiss argued that the developer, Provco Pineville Fayette, had collaborated with the borough and made concessions to alleviate neighbors' concerns. "We hope that you will not send a message to the business community that this is not a friendly place to try and develop," he said.

Council President Paul McConnell said the decision was not about Wawa or even that particular site. "The question before us is: Will we change the definition of residential-office zoning to include the gas stations, convenience stores, and everything else?" McConnell said. "This was not nuance. It's a fundamental thing."

Mayor Robert Frost, who would have cast a tie-breaking vote, said Wawa appeared to be "trying to hopscotch the zoning board" by getting an ordinance amendment.

"The zoning board's probably going to go by the rule book and say, 'Here's the rule and here's our decision.' And I don't think Wawa's going to like that decision," he said.

Matt Ryan cast the only vote in favor of the amendment.

Contact Jessica Parks at 610-313-8117,, or follow on Twitter @JS_Parks.

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