More testimony is on tap for Wawa application

Opposition from Rocky Hill expected at March 13 session

By: Jake Uitti
   MONTGOMERY — The township Planning Board has scheduled another special meeting to hear testimony regarding an application by Wawa to move 550 feet east on Route 518, as well as add a 12-bay gasoline station and parking spaces for 50 cars.
   The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 13 in the Municipal Building.
   At the most recent meeting, held Monday, the board heard testimony from lawyers and experts hired individually by neighboring Rocky Hill and a Shell gas station across the street. Both sets of lawyers and individuals told the board that Wawa’s move and expansion would increase the number of cars coming to the already congested intersection of Routes 518 and 206.
   The increase, they claimed, also would increase the number of accidents in the area, as well as the wait time at the intersection
   Wawa’s traffic expert, Kenneth Fears, disagreed, saying the move would not significantly increase the number of cars.
   Township traffic expert John Rae agreed with Mr. Fears’ assessment for the most part, saying the move would not considerably increase the number of cars, noting that the township is in the process of constructing several loop roads in the area to further alleviate the congestion.
   At the next meeting, Planning Board officials expect to hear testimony regarding the environmental impact of the move, as well as public comment from Rocky Hill officials and residents.
   Rocky Hill officials said they will argue that Wawa’s gasoline station is dangerously close to the borough’s water wells, which were polluted in the late 1970s by Princeton GammaTech, the former occupant of the proposed Wawa site.
   Other concerns were raised Monday regarding the number of buildings proposed for the property, as well as the number of commercial uses.
   Richard Lapinski, a professional planner hired by the Shell station owners, said that Wawa’s plan proposes two buildings with two separate uses — he counts the convenience store as one building and the kiosk from which those who pump gas conduct transactions as a separate building. That, he said, is not in compliance with the township’s zoning ordinance.
   Township Planner Cindy Coppola disagreed, saying most gas stations on Route 206 have more than one "building."