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The Abington Citizens Network
where Abington, PA residents can share ideas and join forces to build a better community
 

  If there are any discrepancies or errors on this page,  please let us know so we can correct anything that needs correcting.


The Super Wawa & the Ordinance
that not only allows the Wawa, but other undesirable development like it that circumvents zoning laws
 

The WAWA in Abington first asked for over 23 waivers - but .....had no hardship, so they could never have been  passed. 
Waivers are not allowed to be granted without a hardship.  Exit common sense and all reason . Enter the new norm: Text and Map amendments to zoning.

GOING  AROUND THE LAWS  In Abington as elsewhere they just went around the normal zoning process entirely , proposing a "text Amendment" to our Zoning Code . You need only a majority of Commissioners to pass this.  It does not follow Zoning Hearing Board guidelines -  in fact. there are nearly no guidelines. So even though zoning is supposed to be a carefully considered process, taking in considerations of  density, environmental concerns etc all of that is being put aside - for a likety split quick zoning change decision by a very few people ( who can so easily be "enticed"  to think one way or another ). Financial analysis showing a benefit to the  people of the community is rarely afforded.  Zoning  changes through the Zoning Hearing Board require notification to property owners within a certain distance -- with text amendments they can forego that.    So where they could never have suceeded in gaining such  a dramatic change on the rights they bought with the normal zoning regulations, they now need only a majority of  Commissioners to say yes. In some Townships that may be just 3 or 4 people  who overrule tens of thousands who protest it.  In Abington, that is 8 . 8 people deciding for 56,000 with no careful consideration of all the factors that make for good zoning and no analysis of other properties that may now receive the same rights from the zoning change.  There are few that would argue that this is "protection of our rights" or reflects government that is safeguarding our "health, safety and welfare" as our elected official are supposed to do.

 
THE TOWNSHIP-WIDE IMPACT   Since the 2012 Wawa used the text amendment  to achieve the equivalent of the 23 waivers,  the same technique has been used again and again on property after property.  Nearly every zoning request is a text or map amendment.  And residents have few skills to analyse the actual impact of the text and map amendments -- especially as they affect other properties .     In 2017 the Abington Terrace Development won it zoning rights far greater than were afforded by the  land it bought by fighting for a zoning change  for a senior residential apartment building .  It won- and in doing so , changed the zoning on many other properties in the Township, because in order not to be "spot zoning" which is illegal, the zoning has to apply to all other properties that are similar. No review was done on the other properties that now had these new rights - like the properties near Holy Redeemer Hospital that are also near a train.  And in the end, the  developer didn't even have to build what he had proposed to build and had drug residents throught over a year of meetings analysing  ( even during hte holidays)  . The minute he had his rights , his proposal changed  and he immediately offered not a senior apartment complex, but a  CHOP medical facility . No aspects of CHOP's facility were presented to obtain the zoning -The residents next to it had no right whatsoever to protest because it was a facility that met the conditions of the changed zoning ---- zoning that the residents did not understand  could have so many other uses by right.  Once  it had become a "use by right" their voices didn't matter.  In the case of the Wawa - many other properties gained the right to add gasoline stations and 24 hour service --- none of these was presented when the zoning for the Wawa was being passed . Even though we asked about it .    In  2018  the Mediplex on York Rd  used the text and map amendment - again to obtain a use by right for its building  while  residents were continually told that their issues were not for the Zoning phase - they would be addressed in Land Development.  By then , of course it is too late.    You might aget an extra parking space or 2 or you might get the bright lights turned away from a neighbors home and an extra bush or tree for a buffer --- but by Land Development, the property owner already has the right --- and others do too - whether you've been told or not . So, of course these matter  should determine whether or not the Zoning is passed - but residents are being lied to, and don't understand it well enough to protest. 

Lawyers?  Should those opposing this new kind of "Wild West " zoning  get lawyers ---  now there a good question . Lawyers CAN help - but they also can control you and effectively  help hte developer win.  You have to have a lawyer that genuinely  wants you to win. If they don't they can literally just run you out of money with nonsense that they insist is necessary. They  can, in violation of ethics -  alert the other side to your inside information, including your weak areas or financial limitations. They can "threaten you" not to speak out publicly,  making you afraid to really lay out the details of the case  or to use the free speaking rights that you have, which alert other residents and which  may be  the very best tool that you have to finght this kind of zoning abuse. But, if you go that direction, go into it understanding  the downsides of having a lawyer - and keep a close watch  and stay involved. Your  legislators and the developer are often fearless when they are not facing one.  But your voice can be suppressed if you get the wrong one.


 
  tools needed  Residents facing these zoning challenges  must insist on their Township providing tools such as :
*****  a single page for each issue to find the documents  where the documents are archived for others coming into the game late
*****  and a "primer" on the Zoning and Land Development process and where to find the laws
*****  a primer on the Zoning Hearing Board process and where to find the laws - ie should you be a party?
*****  a link to find  your actual zoning code and associated codes, laws and policies
*****  links to spot zoning, grand-fathering, municipal ethics matters , speaking rights, open records rights ...........
 and so much more ......
 These tools and assistance using them should be the #1 use of our tax dollars --tools prepared by the officials that we pay from our taxes to work in our interests. Otherwise each new group challenged with the impacts of unbridled expansion of zoning rights to benefit the bottom line of developers and those they schmooze,  be left to scrape together details on their own - exhausted by reinventing the wheel each time -- while the officicials the elect and pay to work in their interests are purposely withholding information and needed help.  The citizens and their elected and paid officials  should be working together , on the same page.  Why is that almost NEVER happening anymore.

REINVENTING THE WHEEL  - When your Township is spending all kinds of time and money and personal assistance to developers who want to violate  our laws and codes - why is it we do not insist that they allow the same time and the same help to the taxpayers that pay their salaries equally.  Why does a developer have unlimited time at hte podium when he wants to TAKE your rights and ask for MORE rights than he bought - whileyou are only allowed 3 minutes to explain everything about how that will impact you and why it shouldn't be allowed?   Why is your legal department allowed to help him understand what he can and can't do, and won't take any questions form those of you who pay his or her dalary.  Why is the manager taking time that you paid his salary for to meet with developers, but refuses to  meet with the people  the developer is impacting - even when those people are paying the bill for it all.  Why would our Township and County Planners be helping and even co-writing ordinances for developers , and not helping you defend the rights you have?  In essence, there is only one reason - they have been able to operate outside of any ethical boundaries for so long that they can't even see any boundaries  anymore. They are just doing whatever they want and are unassailed.

 LEGISLATION THAT IS NEEDED

Many of those tools also involve passing legislation about how often residents can be challenged - or the posting publicly in an organized fashion all of the links and details of the zoning - on a single, easy to find page .  Transcripts of meetings and court hearings must be made available to the public for free.  Tools to measure the desires of the residents that are supposed to be being served - like a place for petitions or comments on the project must be provided. Currently, the money that would fund those things is being expended on behalf of the developers - against the interests of the taxpayers that are footing the bills.  Residents rights - and their access to the processes of their government need to be priority one.

 

)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

   WHAT IS SPOT ZONING AND WHY IS IT BAD?
 
When one parcel  is zoned by itself and not in accord with the area around it,   it is very like to be illegal Spot Zoning .   It is not supposed to be done if it is just for the interests of that property alone. It is, of course, far  more complicated than just that, but  in many cases what the developers are now doing  to avoid being accused of  spot zoning,  is to prepare their ordinance to apply to any parcel in the township that fits their "conditions" . So, for example, if you have 5 acres and are 2500 feet from a train station and on a major highway, you can apply the new zoning that was just obtained by a property without even mentioning yours - or showing the  side effects and impacts of this  new zoning on neighbors that have never even been notified it is happening.  Any property that meets the same conditions as the one being targeted.  Spot zoning made it illegal to just rezone your own property for your own benefit - so now,  those requesting rezoning are making SURE that other properties are included.  However they are NOT being required to show those properties and the actual impact before the zoning is approved.  Surprize that little office complex can now sell to Wawa and have  24 hour service and sell gasoline with as many as a dozen pumps. Who doesn't know this is wrong --- and not int he interests of the  health safety and welfare of the residents in this Township-  which  really should be the ONLY role of those we hire and elect.Why is there no requirement to explore
 all of the ramifications of that zoning and its impact on the neighbors before they apply any  new text and or map amendment or zoning change. 
    Zoning quite clearly should not be done in such a manner. But that is what is happening in Township after Township. They have become so casual about it that they don't even bother trying to identify the other properties or notifying the neighbors that such zoning may soon apply behind their house or next to their house. This is contrary to all of the tenants of zoning which are geared at protecting the property rights of every property owner in the Township.

  So while a property is not allowed  "spot zone" - that is to say it may not change the zoning just for itself to profit - it somehow MAY if it allows one or 2 others to profit.  And the rules are being  twisted  further - and ultimately even case-law is being created -such that, for instance if it meets the Commissioners vision it also would not be considered illegal.  So in Abington, at the Willow Grove Mall, for instance, in 2020 and 2021  they tried to CREATE a vision  in the Comprehensive Plan  at the same time they were helping the developer write the  ordinance  that violated the law  and would have been spot zoning.  It was nothing more than a money grab - aided by the people that we pay to uphold our laws and coses and zoning .  Even more harm is being done by allowing zoning in this manner, because it sets precendents - provides twisted case-law and emboldens others to defy our zoning regulations.  Legislation is most assuredly needed to stop this process that has been only fairly recently discovered, but which in just a decade or so is now already in near constant use by developers.  

 The rules regarding special exceptions and waivers were put into place for a purpose. In nearly none of the cases using Map and Text amendments has there been any hardship - so these developments would not have been allowed . Period.      
The rewriting of ordinances by developers to redesign our towns has become a new major threat to liveable communities and quality of life.  And to having a government responsivbe to the people it represents.  Our towns  should be "owned, operated and designed"  by  the residents who vote the Commissioners in to work in their interests. Instead, big money interests/developers are taking over and trashing any prospect of properly planned design or meeting the needs of anything but certain bottom lines.... at the expense of many others. And they are also  building on every inch they can, increasing densities wherever possible in order to import  more "customers" for their projects and endeavors. The denser the area is, the more they make.  The over-all health of the community is a distant second fiddle to their immediate profits.  

  Conshohocken residents win 8-16-21 – based largely on spot zoning and that it was not part of the Council’s vision.    https://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Commonwealth/out/501CD20_8-16-21.pdf

 

   OTHER WAWA'S
 
RESIDENT OPPOSITION /// ARTICLES ///    INFO

CHELTENHAM - Bounded by  Limekiln /ogontz/MacDonald and Clubhouse
  Developer Goodman Properties 
  June 3, 2013  The Planning Commission turns it down  13 variances requested
  July 12, 2013 At Planning Commission  residents object . Planning Commission
                     sends it to the zoning board with numerous conditions
  July 16, 2013  Public Hearing  - "Fiscal impact " reported in articleon lists only
                  revenues and does not discuss costs of traffic features,  sewer,
                  storm water management , police, staff time etc  or  the impact on the
                  home values nearby
 Aug 20, 2013   meeting scheduled
 Aug 31-18  Article  Super Sized Wawa's Not Always Wanted In Phila Suburbs  discusses the Wawa that Goodman wants to build a mile from the one he already built in Cheltenham
  OK - this one was built  ! done deal     -

CHELTENHAM   TWP  2018  Now there is a 2nd WAWA challenging Cheltenham

ABINGTON   TWP / JENKINTOWN/ OLD YORK RD   - 2012-2013  Developer  Provco -Goodman  see below for the details
 It is at Baeder and York in the Jenintown section of Abington Township
 Passed June 13, 2013 . In a Nutshell : Goodman and his team wrote a new Ordinance ( that had to apply Township wide in order not to be spot zoning. Once passed he has the use  "by right " The ordinance passed 12-6-12 by 7 votes out of the 56,000 that live in Abington . (Depite the Planning Commission , the EAC and the Montco Planning Commission disapproving) .  
     Preliminary Plans to build the site were approved 2-7-13 (despite traffic that adds 500 in and out movements at an intersection rated "F", inability to control noise and other health, safety and welfare features and despite the fact that the plans were practically "composed" at the meeting). When the ordinance was challenged in court they rewrote the ordinance and presented it as a "new " ordinance - which they had to do because of a law saying that the same or similar rewrites  cannot be presented for a year. That passed with 10 votes. The same basic Land Development plan, with just a few adjustments, was passed from start to finish within about 3 weeks.  All on an ordinance that was "not similar" . Simply amazing.

SEE THE ENTIRE OLD YORK ABINGTON BATTLE BELOW   

abington  TWP / roslyn
2020-2021 Roslyn Wawa  battle here
 


CONSHOHOCKEN Borough    (Developer Provco Pineville Fayette, L.P  - RESIDENTS WIN
3-13  Turned down by the  Planning Commission 3-13
4-13 turned down by borough council .    
4-13ish - Here is an article from  a Conshohocken writer that delved deeper into the connections  that  exist in the Wawa situation 
2013 turned down 6-1
2016 turned down unanimously
2017 passed 4-3
2108 residents  challenged the validity of the ordinance that passed.
https://morethanthecurve.com/hearing-dates-set-for-conshohockens-zoning-hearing-board-to-consider-validity-of-wawa-ordinance 
11-1-18    Conshohocken’s Borough Council Spot Zoning During First Hearing on Validity of Allowing Wawa in Residential-Office Zoning District  https://morethanthecurve.com/expert-witness-testifies-ordinance-passed-by-conshohockens-borough-council-spot-zoning-during-first-hearing-on-validity-of-allowing-wawa-in-residential-office-zoning-district
8-16-21 
Conshohocken residents win – based largely on spot zoning and that it was not part of the Council’s vision.    https://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Commonwealth/out/501CD20_8-16-21.pdf

 

DOYLESTOWN   TWP - Fierce fight

HATBORO 
2-12  Wawa in Hatboro  -residents oppose it
7-12  Old Mill Inn and other historic structures at risk - 1100 signatures  to oppose the Wawa   July 2012
8-18  - still not built 
9-3-18 Hatboro Wawa denied 

5-7-19  Hatboro Wawa Developergets A Win In Montgomery County Court

HATFIELD  TWP
10-11   2nd Wawa in  Hatfield on  309 & Unionville Rd -

HORSHAM  TWP  
Done Deal - nasty fight

PLUMSTEAD  TWP    

9-17  Developer Tom Verrichia  lost one appeal  in Sept 2017  then:
3-19  The Judge sided with Developer
 https://www.theintell.com/news/20190322/judge-sides-with-developer-in-plumstead-wawa-appeal 
5-19  Residents accuse Township of negotiating behind the scenes  despite saying they would fight
Eastburn Grey is lawyer for developer

NORTHHAMPTON TWP
10-21   Holland Super Wawa
https://www.change.org/p/holland-protect-our-community-by-keeping-super-wawa-out-6fe4a863-f27a-439f-b70c-a97646b72e94

UPPER GWYNEDD  TWP

LOWER MORELAND   TWP
7-19-13  Grand Opening celebrated ( this wawa was notnext to residential that we are aware)  At Philmont & Red Lion

UPPERMORELAND /WILLOW GROVE               
2012 Wawa in Upper Moreland
  Tied  in Planning Commission vote
2012   - approved  late 2012
8-13  Held up waiting for Road approvals - wanting to move ahead anyway

 

OTHER AREAS AND STATES 

CHERRY HILL
3-12 Residents unhappy over Wawa on Haddonfield Rd  - Mar, 2012

BRICK NJ

VORHHES NJ

WAYNE   8- 31-18  see Article  Super Sized Wawa's Not Always Wanted In Phila Suburbs  d

PHILLY - Delaware River Water front Wawa  

 


 WAWA IN GENERAL ---

LIQUOR TOO !?
 
 WAWA won its first liquor license with a 160,000+ bid  in Delaware County
 

 

COMMENTARY ON THE DEVELOPMENTS AND ON THE DEVELOPERS

 Wawas All Over  --- on the disposition of the old being replaced by  the Wawas, read one writer's take on the effects of the incoming Wawas all over, and of Mr Goodman's methods in particular .

4-13ish -  an article from  a Conshohocken writer that delved deeper into the connections  that  exist in the Wawa situation  (same as above under Conshohocken)

8-31-18  Article  Super Sized Wawa's Not Always Wanted In Phila Suburbs  discusses the Wawa that Goodman wants to build a mile from the one he already built in Cheltenham -

 

WAWA FACTS  in General from here and there
Delaware based corportation
Corporate address   260 West Baltimore Pike,  Wawa PA 19063
        Phone: 610-358-8000   Fax: 610-358-8878 http://www.wawa.com
         public.relations@wawa.com
It is a 10 billion dollar company as of 8-18

Wawa as of 2018 they have 800 stores - 600 of which have gas . Had circa 2013 630 stores  in 6 states with 21,000 employees.
Average Wawa assessment is $1.1 million
If millage is around 50 that would translate to $45-55,000 in Real Estate taxes
A Wawa might produce an additional $30-40,000 or more in mercantile taxes
The  Township costs to install and administer this business is not noted
        anywhere that we can find , nor are any figures on the effects on the
       value of nearby property or any proper before and after crime figures.
One Wawa testified that they expected 250 cars to use it during a single hour
        at pm rush hour - that would translate to 500 movements in and out
        of traffic.
Largest store is 11,000 sq ft at 6th & Chestnut in Philly
     
 

The Abington Story:

The Super Wawa & the Ordinance
that not only allows the Wawa, but other undesirable development like it that circumvents zoning laws

The WAWA first asked for over 23 waivers - but had no hardship, so they could never be passed. They then went around the normal zoning process entirely , proposing a "text Amendment" to our Zoning Code . So where they could never have suceeded in gaining such  a dramatic change on the rights they bought, they now needed only needed 8 Commissioners to say yes.

 The final Land Development plan passed June 13, 2013  after a series of debacles and "boon-doggles" .  This has been an issue that appears to  have been made to be as confusing as possible on purpose - particularly where residents were continually directed to Land Development when they brought up certain issues ----  then told in Land Development that the rights had been given in the earlier phase, where the zoning was aquired ...so now, they were told, the issue was moot.
(The same thing happened years later in 2018  with the Mediplex on York Rd where  residents were continually told that their issues were not for the Zoning phase - even though ......they were.
  As long as residents don't insist on tools, such as a single page for each isse to find the documents - and a "primer" on the zoning and Land Development process prepared by the officials that we pay from our taxes to work in our interests, each new group challenged with such zoning issues will be left to scrape together details that are being purposely withheld.
  If there are any discrepancies or errors on this page,  please let us know so we can correct anything that needs correcting.

THE NUTS AND BOLTS .
Developer Bruce Goodman wanted a Super Wawa store,   12 gas pump slots ( six 2 sided pumps)  and another building , originally to be a bank.  He tried to get his development underway by proposing 24 plus variances . That wouldn't fly. He then proposed to rewrite our laws. And Commissioners voted yes ( 7 people need to say yes on behalf of  56,000) .Done deal. 
    But that was challenged in court. He then rewrote the ordinance again - changed a few things. Claiming it was a brand new ordinance, to get around the law that required a year before filing a similar ordinance, they succeeded  ( now by a mere 10 Commissioners ---- representing 56,000 people who had been out in force to oppose this ). Aabout 3 weeks after the passing of this supposed "brand new" ordinance, the final land development was approved.
                                                            Can you say boondoggle?


  AND  NOW?
Goodman has secured his ordinance and his land development plan approval & moved ahead with the Land Development. Residents asked for traffic patterns to be controlled on Hilltop . Much more than that they no longer could do

     Residents will have to decide if they want to undertake the challenging position of filing against this project in court. They have many good grounds upon which to bring a case, but are aware that the  lawyers can bat them around like a ping -pong ball running up costs, etc  and Goodman has already shown a willingness to play dirty pool and hit any challenges with huge bond requirements. So they do not have an opportunity to openly hear what a judge decides whichout risking financial ruin, should the judge be the same kind of friend that the 7-10 Commissioners were who gave the residents rights away.  

   WHY HAS THIS BEEN SO CONFUSING ?
WHAT IS SPOT ZONING ?
The problem is that the Commissioners allowed an ordinance to pass that has changed the zoning in  many places Township wide, with the locations not fully named or future actions  on them not explored.  This was done largely without the understanding of residents who may be severely impacted in the future by this zoning. Aproperty may not "spot zone" - that is to say it may not change the come onzoning just for itself - a text amendment to the zoning code ( and map amendment ) must apply wherever the same specs or conditions are met .
   The entire process  was  misunderstood by many residents, never fully and adequately explained by the township ( on purpose) . They saw the residents struggling,  believing often that this was an application for a Super Wawa at  the Baeder Rd.  site alone. It was not.  It applied anywhere the same conditions in Abington existed.
       The Super Wawa first came into the picture with an application by one of local developer Bruce Goodman's companies,  requesting over 23 special exceptions and waivers . There was no hardship - so it would not have been allowed .  With no sucess down that alley, Goodman and his company simply wrote an ordinance to change the existing zoning to accommodate him.  Outrageous, but ...over the objection of residents, the Commissioners approved it.   In order not to be denied as "spot zoning", the ordinance would  apply Township-wide making it even more troublesome.  And the affected residents from all of those areas were not given special notice  ( perhaps one might suppose they would see a newspaper add they did not understand at all and assume it could apply to them -----  this should be legislated so that such things cannot happen .)

      As the application proceeded, the other spots where it might apply were not analysed and brought into the discussion to clarify things for the concerned residents.  They were brushed-over and no ramifications brought to the fore.  Both Commissioners and the developer persisted in allowing the discussion to focus on the Baeder Rd property, confusing many.  (One might opine "intentionally" )  Comments by residents were largely addressed to the specific land development, as had been presented, even though that had been withdrawn and replaced and  was no longer even valid.   It was further complicated by the "Bank" property that the developer planned to purchase and attach to the project, which appeared in the plans. That property had recently been  given waivers regarding set-backs, etc.  under the auspices of becoming a restaurant -- but then was instead added to the picture as an additional parcel  that was a part of this project. It was later (briefly) acknowledged that there was no requirement for it to be a bank; it could be  anything the owner wanted to put there  that met the  new specs.   Few residents grasped that at all, as it was buried in the mix.  The process was amazing to watch.
     The first ordinance was passed, despite a sea of signs and great protest by residents, both near and far.   Despite the fact that any such allowable development at one of the township's busiest and highest crash intersections would bring an increase of 500 or more movements in and out of the intersection at rush hour, this was passed.  Despite the fact that residential traffic to use this facility would attract pedestrians into this outrageously busy intersection, it was passed.  All safety issues and the rights of the residents nearby were ignored, as the developer found a way to acquire even more than the equivalent of the  23 waivers that he originally sought that would not have been legally his right to have.
     The second ordinance hearing is set for a hearing on May 23rd, 2013 .  Once that ordinance passes, landowners whose land fits the specs ( or who are given the infamous waivers that make their land fit the specs)  will have this use by right - and residents will lose the right to rely on the more protective zoning  that now exists.
A HUGE CONCERN :
The rewriting of ordinances by developers to redesign towns has become a new major threat to liveable communities and quality of life.  The towns  should be "owned, operated and designed"  by  the residents who vote the Commissioners in to work in their interests. Instead, big money interests are taking over and over building every inch they can, then importing in their "customers" to be sure they  make as many dollars as possible from each project. The denser the area is, the more they make.  The over-all health of the community is a distant second fiddle to immediate profits.

SUMMARY  OF  PRIOR ACTIONS

June 13, 2013 -  Board of Commissioner - The Land Development plan passed

June 3, 2013  The Land Development came before the Code Enforcement & Land Development Committee -
                          It passed

May 28th, 2013   The new Land Development came before  the Planning Commission .  green light

May 23rd, 2013 The new ordinance came for the Hearing before the Board . Passed 10 to 2

April  23, 2013  A new plan was submitted after the lawsuit was filed by the resident .  The new plan included again the  2,000 ft from a train station  requirement . The new draft ordinance is again for the entire township - it is a Text Amendment to our Zoning code - not a guideline for just the single spot in Jenkintown that has been discussed .

Feb 7, 2013   The Preliminary Plan to build  the Wawa store, stations and a bank at York & Baeder  was approved
           with 14 or more conditions created on the fly at the approval meeting.  Did anyone know what they
          were approving ? I don't think so.
Dec 2012  a lawsuit was filed by a resident  regarding the procedures  in the pasing of this ordinance
Dec 6, 2012    the Motor Vehicle Fueling use for the PB districts was passed - a disgrace for Abington township.
Oct 25, 2012 - The hearing scheduled for this date was cancelled on Oct 23rd
October 23, 2012  - 7:30   Planning Commission - did not approve the plan . Called for a traffic study
Sept 25, 2012 A newer proposal was submitted
Sept 13th - 8 pm    Commissioners set the hearing date as October 25. (This was then cancelled
Sept 19th , 2012 - This  ordinance was pulled from the Planning Commission  agenda at 11:26 am -
             supposedly due to comments made by the Montgomery Co Planning Commission .
Sept 25th 2012 submission to change the zoning ordinance to allow for Motor Vehicle Fueling Center
Sept 12, 2012  Comments from the MontgomeryCounty Planning Commission
Aug 2, 2012  - The first proposal to rewrite the text of the Zoning Code was submitted
Feb 21,  2012 Zoning Hearing Board will NOT hear this  application 
Dec 13, 2011  Zoning Hearing  scheduled but not held


DETAILS of the above summary

   June 13, 2013  The Land Development   was approved by the full Board  . Residents let the Commissioners hear their complete dissatisfaction and  noted that others were no longer out in the droves that they had been  because they didn't believe anything they said, did or cared about, mattered.  Residents asked what was the loss to their homes was... Commissioners said it wasn't their job to calculate that.  One resident who works with these kinds of developments regularly said he has never seen one where the developer got so much but returned virtually nothing to the residents. One resident  noted the absolutely mind boggling process where the brand new ordinance passed  May 23rd and the FINAL Land development plan was being approved 3 weeks later ( astounding especially  since the Land Development plan allows for nearly the exact same development, despite the developer and Township personnel testifying to how "new" and NOT SIMILAR the "new" ordinance was .  Had it not been new - a year would have had to pass before another ordinance could have been introduced .  )

    June 3rd, 2013  The Land Development came  before the Code Enforcement Committee The Code Enforcement Committee gave this the green light to this project, again over the protests of residents in attendance, with chairman Jay O'Connor doing a bang up job of interrupting residents and trying to misdirect them during their turn to speak.   Disgraceful behavior for any Commissioner.  The project now only needs final approval which you can bet is going to be granted .

 May 28, 2013   The new Land Development came before  the Planning Commission .  The Planning Commissioners simply gave it a green light ..... the residents be darned. 

  May 23rd, 2013  The Board voted in the  ordinance in a 10 to 2 vote with Spiegelman and Willis voting no. The Ordinance will now allow Goodman to build nearly exactly what he first proposed . Outrageous to say the least.  There is a law that says that no similar petition may be made withing a year of the other.  This would definitely apply here, though the Township's very own zoning officer Mark Penecale testified in a way to try to help the developer establish that this is "different" or "new" legislation, rather than similar. Amazing. We pay to give salaries to people who work against our interests.   Mr. Penecale is already responsible for caselaw that might also eventually apply here, since in another case, he misinformed residents, telling them the project conformed to zoning when it did not .  In many cases this support of the developer over residents is crucial, as it was here.
      Zappone recused himself because he works for the developer. The lawyer representing certain residents raised the issue that no duplicate or SIMILAR petition could be brought before a full year had passed. 
     This is actually the developer's  3 assualt, not his second, on a community who has been fully worn down by document after document and meeting after meeting . The law should apply that a year must pass between presentations - but who will apply it if a  developer can threaten  them by making them post million dollar bonds and make them fear the inevitable tactics of drawing out the lawsuit until the "prey" has reached financial ruin.  When our justice system allows such things, it is surely clear that we have no justice system at all.........
      Penecale, even though testifying htat the ordinance was new mentioned that the prior work they did (based on the 1st ordinance)   was then used as a "template" for the developer , who made this "new" one . In essence this ordinance allowed for the same basic development as was originally proposed - ( the word template is quite revealing)  and it is sad to watch our own township personnel, paid for by our taxes, trying to paint it as something else. 


   May 17th, 2013 Despite the  Resident   who has a filed the lawsuit was to have had a bond hearing - he was being asked to submit a 1 million dollar bond

  On Feb 7, 2013   the Preliminary plans for the York & Baeder Wawa and a bank were approved. Hilltop & the Noble train and Noble Plaza traffic also comes in. It is one of the township's most dangerous intersections, reportedly zoned "F" .  Abington  Officer Freed testified that he saw no increased risk  from the addition of the 250 plus cars that would create 500 new movements in  and out of traffic during a single hour at rush hour.   It is beyond the imagination of some of us that if they can improve the intersection with an  adjustment to the traffic lights ( putting the Hilltop and Noble traffic on a different time slot from the Baeder Rd turning traffic ) why they are not doing it NOW. We are investigating this as of this writing. 
      There were over 14 things on a list to be changed from what was being presented.    I don't think any two people in the entire room  knew exactly what was being approved and certainly no one had had had any time to research and carefully consider this .  It was "created on the fly" at the meeting and pushed  through hastily - with help from our own solicitor who seemed to "warn" the commissioners if they couldn't find  a reason that it did not meet the code, they were required to pass it .  Rather than asking him for any advice as to where and how it might not meet code or public safety concerns, Commissioner Schreiber phrased her question in a way that if they themselves could not think of or know of any rules that were broken were they required to vote yes?  No public safety concerns or other issues were raised. It reportedly passed  13-2 with Commissioners Spiegelman and Willis ( whose wards are most affected) being the only no votes . I did not hear Commissioner Zappone recuse himself, nor did Commissioner Myers, who has apparently publicly professed to being a longtime, close friend of the developer ( & who also helped re-design the tax abatement lines to include Goddman's properties in earlier years )   I have not yet seen the official report of the votes.  

     In their wisdom, the Commissioners would like to add, for Mr Goodman's benefit, a bus stop into the middle of this insane intersection.  Having their view blocked and having people trying to pull around the bus or avoid the disembarking passengers will add to the safety of the intersection, I guess.  Mr Goodman was quite happy to have the customers, but was not interested in providing them with shelter .  Perhaps their limo drivers will get by before they get too wet... 

 

    12-6-12 The  Board of Commissioners approved the Motor Vehicle Fueling ordinance which added this use to PB zoning Township wide .  In the discussions they refused to discuss any other locations in Abington and how it would impact the residents  there.  PB means  "Planned Business" zoning districts - in which there are over 30 uses allowed by right. Gas stations previously were a conditional use- which was a very good thing for Abington  and Abington residents - allowing much more control. Among the features of what was passed was even a situation where no buffer zone in some circumstances would be required right next to residential  uses  ( outrageous and completely against all our plans, visions, and other zoning directives - a debacle to see this passed) . Commissioners should be ashamed of giving one person rights that take away another's, of creating a fiercely dangerous situation, of putting a convenience store and gas station in our gateway, of  making the violation of our laws legal, rather than upholding them and for ignoring the residents they serve.  They can be even further ashamed for ordering  a resident removed rather than hearing his impassioned comments - which entailed an officer wrestling him to the ground and a great deal of unnecessary police force. A you -tube video that aired was edited deeply to cut out the part of unnecessary force.

       
It is important to understand that the ordinance Goodman managed to get passed  was  an  end  run around the the inability to get 24 or more  variances which the law would not allow as there was no hardship.  In this case, even with the EAC, the Montco Planners and the Abington Planners disapproving, Goodman only had to get 7 votes  . At least 1 commissioner is a good friend and should have recused herself -- another Commissioner works for him and did recuse himself.  One was absent. Leaving a meager 7 votes needed to win an ordinance against all our policies and the wishes of the vast majority of the residents.  (Commissioners Wachter, Gaglianese, Luker, Kalinoski, Gillespie, Myers and DiJoseph voted yes;  Zappone recused  Schreiber was absent. Do you know your Commissioner's complete voting history?  You should. It's important)  Kline while voting against it, said he would have voted for it if a few other conditions were met. At one point during the hearing Commissioner Bowman said to residents concerned about the children at the Day Nursery that the traffic problem was "their problem " -- drawing anger from the crowd as he ignored  the role that the 15 commissioners play in creating these dangerous situations township-wide. One resident told them the blood of children, should there be an accident , would be on their hands.  

      
Despite the fact that this ordinance applies township wide ,  the  focus at the hearing  was on  Provco Goodman’s 4,900 sq ft Wawa with 12 fueling spots  as well as a bank ( or nearly any other thing he might like to add ) at York & Baeder Rds.  The actual  plans for what he will build  had been submitted just prior to the meeting and but few, if any, even knew new plans were submitted, let alone had time to view them.  He  managed to get the ordinance passed by focusing discussion on the prior plans submitted-- even though these were no longer relevant to a single application anywhere in the township. They served only to take attention off the places that would later be involved.

 

   FOR WHAT TRANSPIRED BEFORE THIS AND LINKS TO DOCUMENTS SEE PRIOR PAGES




   We welcome your comments  to share either anonymously or with your name attached with your  fellow Abington residents.   Send  any updated information, comments or questions  to: lel@abingtoncitizens.com 

wawa


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