Giant eager to build gas station Blockbuster building will be demolished

By on September 18, 2013

By:

GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent

, Staff Writer

Developers are hopeful that construction for a Giant gas station can begin in early 2014, but the neighboring Wendy’s fast food restaurant has some concerns that could slow the process.

At odds is the interpretation of "access road," which was discussed at the Warwick Township Zoning Hearing Board meeting Sept. 11.

Warwick Devco owns the Shoppes at Kissel Village, the commercial plaza that includes Target and Giant. Devco is now seeking township approval to demolish the building at 1054 Lititz Pike, currently Radio Shack and the former Blockbuster video store, and build a 12-bay Giant To Go fuel filling station in its place.

Last week’s hearing considered a special exception to allow a fueling facility in the Community Commercial Zoning District. Devco is also seeking a variance to allow for a 25-foot-wide access drive instead of the 30 foot requirement. Township law calls for 30 feet at filling stations in order to allow enough room for tankers servicing such operations adequate room to maneuver.

Overall, township officials appear to be in support of the proposed project. The roadblock, however, comes in defining what is meant by "access road." Township Zoning Officer Tom Zorbaugh and the lead architect for the project, Alex Piehl of RGS Associates, seem to be in agreement that an access road is any road within such a complex that has direct access to a public road.

This definition is important because it would affect whether or not a variance on the width of the driveway is even needed. The proposed site is bordered on two sides by access roads, with a total of three access driveways connecting the parking lot to the access roads.

What brought the issue to light was the placement of that third driveway, which is designed as a one-way exit to ease traffic flow during gasoline business spikes caused by Giant grocery customers redeeming gas points. Original concept drawings taken before the township’s planning commission aligned that driveway with an existing access road that runs behind the Wendy’s restaurant and Rita’s Italian Ice.

Based on suggestions from the planning commission as well as resistance to the plan from the owners of Wendy’s, the driveway in question was moved closer to the corner of the proposed site. Depending on how the definition of an access road is ultimately interpreted, a minimum of 75 feet would be required between each of the driveways. As currently drawn, that third driveway would not meet the requirement. And, if it does not meet the requirement then only two options exist:

One would be to eliminate the driveway altogether, but that could have an adverse impact on stacked traffic within the fueling station.

The other option is to redraw the plan to have the driveway align with the existing roadway behind Wendy’s.

The owners of Wendy’s will not support such a move because they are convinced it will have a negative impact on their business.

"It really puts the township in a box because Wendy’s will not cooperate," stated township solicitor Neil Albert.

Zorbaugh explained that the issue with Wendy’s is not simply a lack of willingness to cooperate. He noted that making the changes needed would affect Wendy’s parking, dumpster location and require the roadway to go from one-way to two-way. That change would then impact Wendy’s ability to add a second drive-through lane at some point in the future.

Piehl did detail plans for the new station, stating that it would feature six fueling islands with 12 pumps.

"The location would feature brick piers instead of plain steel," he said. "It would also feature a standing seam metal roof. Signage for gas pricing would be on a free-standing sign which would be re-used from the current businesses."

The location would also contain a brick kiosk which would be manned by a Giant employee every hour that the station is open, typically from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. In addition, Piehl noted that the site will be architecturally consistent with the rest of the shopping complex.

In the end, board members voted to table the matter until their next meeting in October in order to give township officials and the solicitor time to better answer what is meant by the term "access road." An executive session with Solicitor Albert is planned for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9. This is an executive session, so it will not be open to the public. Following that meeting, the Zoning Hearing Board will hold its monthly meeting, which is open to the public.

"It’s their building," said Zorbaugh when asked about the proposed demolition of such relatively new buildings. "If the building would have been over 50 years old that would have been a different matter."

While an exact time frame is hard to determine with so many hurdles yet to be cleared, Kevin Lawn of both Waters Associates and Warwick Devco said they would like to get started as soon as possible on the project. Pressed further, Lawn indicated actual construction was not likely until perhaps the first quarter of 2014.

More GAS STATION, page A2

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