Warminster Supervisors Give Thumbs-up to New WaWa
Development along Street Road moves ahead while Shenandoah Woods reuse plan tries to tackle HUD roadblock.
Thursday night’s three and-a-half-hour meeting of the Warminster Board of Supervisors covered a lot of ground – literally and figuratively.
In an unusual bi-partisan vote, the Board voted unanimously to approve preliminary plans for land development presented by WaWa. Representatives from the convenience store chain presented their plans for a new store and gas station on Street Road next to the new CVS.
Several Board members expressed concern that the plans allowed for only one entrance and exit onto Street Road. Given the high level of traffic on Street Road between York and Mearns roads, multiple issues were raised concerning traffic backup at the only proposed Street Road access to the popular convenience store.
WaWa representatives explained that traffic entering or exiting the new facility will be able to cut through adjoining properties in order to exit onto Mearns Road.
Neighbors of the proposed WaWa site had asked at previous meetings that any plans not allow for traffic from WaWa to enter or exit onto Orchard Avenue. WaWa’s representative tore up earlier versions of plans that provided access from the WaWa to Orchard Avenue during last night’s meeting, and guaranteed that WaWa will not construct entries or exits into the neighborhood roads behind the proposed site.
Board member Tom Panzer asked that WaWa consider working with neighboring businesses and PennDot to have a new light installed on Street Road near the proposed WaWa site to help control traffic issues.
Supervisor Gail Johnson said he was “very impressed to see that the plans have gone from 89 percent impervious surface down to less than 50 percent.” Noting that all trees and shrubs used in the landscaping for the new WaWa will be native to the area, WaWa reps said that the proposed plan would cause “no stormwater issues for the neighborhood behind the property.”
After questions concerning the underground gas tanks that will be located at the site, WaWa representatives described the safety measures used to protect the underground tanks. Stating that the underground tanks are double-walled, a WaWa’s representative said that their “safety precautions meet or exceed state standards.”
WaWa hopes to “have a shovel in the ground by spring 2012” if all goes well during the rest of the approval process.
In other business, Township Solicitor Michael Savona updated the Board on the progress of the planning process for Shenandoah Woods. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rejected a plan for the redevelopment of 199 homes and property at Shenandoah Woods in November 2010.
Savona said the so-called “113 Plan” failed to meet requirements of the Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act of 1994. The act requires that plans to convert closed military bases take into account the needs of homeless people, while establishing the process for homeless service providers to receive base properties at no cost.
The plan for Shenandoah Woods was created by the Bucks County Housing Group and the Philadelphia-based Reinvestment Fund - a national financing company known for investing in neighborhood revitalization projects.
The two groups had planned to rehab the 199 homes and turn them into a mix of 113 single family homes and some twins. A $6 million homeless fund raised though the sale of the homes was planned to benefit Bucks and Montgomery counties.
In its initial rejection of the “113 Plan,” HUD stated that the “plan does not appropriately balance the needs of the communities in the vicinity of the installation for economic redevelopment and other development with the needs of the homeless in such communities." Federal law mandates those classified as "literally homeless" benefit from the land transfer.
The plan must be retooled within 90 days and resubmitted to the land reuse authority for consideration by HUD once again. Savona asked the Board to approve Cooperative, Multilateral and Professional Services Agreements that would allow Warminster Township to participate effectively in the reuse planning process for the “113 Plan” in conjunction with other groups, including the Bucks County Housing Group and the Aldie Foundation.
The Board voted 5-0 to approve all agreements necessary to move forward with Warminster Township’s continued participation in the reuse planning process for Shenandoah Woods.
The Supervisors received a report on the Township’s December 2010 Financial Statement from Linda Major of Major and Mastro, LLC. Noting that final numbers for the 2010 fiscal year will not be fully available until March 2011, Major stated that she expected that the Township’s expected deficit will be closer to $351,000 rather than the anticipated $700,000 figure.
“Once the departments learned of the projected deficit last year,” Major explained, “they cut back significantly. Collectively, the departments were able to save at least $221,000.”
Parks and Recreation ended the year in the black, in part because the department chose to put off capital expenditures once the budget crisis became evident. The Five Ponds Golf Course ended 2010 more than $86,000 in the red.
Further questioning regarding the Township’s budget status revealed that the Township has already spent more than $1 million of the recently received $1.5 million Tax Revenue Anticipation Note.
“We’ve burned through one million already?” asked Supervisor Panzer.
“Yes, we have. We paid bills,” responded Township Supervisor Robert Tate.
The night began on a positive note, however, with the unveiling of the Township’s new 300th Anniversary logo design. Republican Leo Quinn thanked the committee responsible for the success of the Township’s 300th Kick-Off Reception held Jan. 15. The Board accepted Citations from the Bucks County Commission and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives congratulating Warminster on its 300th Anniversary.
Chairwoman Ellen Jarvis said that the citations will be framed and displayed in the Township’s new “Welcome Center,” located in the Township Building. The “Welcome Center” will provide visitors with information on Warminster as well as Bucks County points of interest, and will be open to the public during Township Building work hours.