During the Allen Township Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, September 12, supervisors and residents spoke passionately about traffic concerns regarding a proposed Wawa in the township. The 6,000-square-foot convenience store will sit at the southwest corner of the intersection of Route 329 and Savage Road. This property will be part of the larger Stone Ridge development subdivision plan.
While the development engineer couldn’t attend the meeting due to personal issues, representatives from the developer Allen Development Partners and legal counsel from Fitzpatrick, Lentz, and Bubba were present to answer questions. As a result of the engineer’s absence, they proposed extending the township’s vote of approval through October 11. This was approved by all supervisors, except for Supervisor Dale Hassler.
Township resident Phil Richardson spoke during public comment with several concerns, including the number of fuel pumps on the property. Typical Wawas in the area have 12, he said, while this one has a proposed 16. Meanwhile, smaller local stations have six to eight pumps. He asked whether supervisors could lower this number, but supervisors explained they could not once a variance is granted. This number can only change if a traffic plan deems it necessary.
Richardson also addressed concerns over the property’s canopy height. Township code says it should be no more than 20 feet, while the standard canopy is 12 to 15 feet. However, this plan proposes a 25-to-30-foot pitched roof, which will shine lights in the direction of drivers on Route 329 and cause light pollution for nearby residents.
Richardson also voiced concerns over on-site pedestrian safety and the overall harmony of the neighboring residential areas.
However, the biggest concern among both residents and supervisors alike was the access road onto Savage Road. The plan has three proposed total exits, with one exit onto Savage Road. The plan shows northbound traffic turning left to enter, while southbound traffic can turn right to enter the property and right to exit. PennDOT will not allow access to the property from 329.
There were many concerns over the safety of this plan, with supervisors and residents alike worried that traffic leaving Wawa would exit onto Savage Road and then try to turn left onto Atlas Road before attempting to turn onto Weaversville Road, which has line-of-sight issues. During August’s planning commission meeting, in which the commission approved the plan, Stone Ridge’s developer said he would pay for a cul-de-sac at the end of Atlas Road, preventing cars from exiting onto Weaversville.
Said Supervisor Dale Hassler, “I’m opposed to going out on Savage Road, very much so.”
However, his concerns were not Atlas and Weaversville roads but Savage Road and Route 329. In his role as fire chief, he has access to accident reports. From Jan. 1, 2018 to Aug. 24, 2023, he said there were 14 accidents at Savage Road and Route 329, not including fender benders. Meanwhile, only one accident occurred at Atlas and Weaversville roads.
“This is not what can take place [or] what might take place, this took place,” he said.
Supervisor Gary Behler, also a member of the planning commission, said he doesn’t believe an access road on Savage Road is necessarily needed. However, he said supervisors should take the opportunity to have the developer pay for a cul-de-sac at Atlas and Weaversville. He cited potential plans for warehouses at Atlas and Savage roads. A cul-de-sac would keep future truck traffic from Weaversville Road, where tractor-trailers are not permitted.
“We need to think of it as a big picture,” he said, adding he worries that the township will regret not making this safety update when they had the chance.
Some residents expressed concerns that traffic with a cul-de-sac would just cut through residential roads.
“We’re not going to be able to solve every cut-through road in the township,” Behler said. He said this resolution would solve safety issues and redirect trucks away from roads they shouldn’t be on.
“Every action has a reaction,” cautioned Hassler. “We really got to think hard.”
Supervisor Tim Paul asked developers whether the access road onto Savage can be limited to just an entrance, forcing exiting cars onto a future Stone Ridge Road westward and then north to a signaled intersection at 329. Developers said it is something they need to look at. However, they added that a “backdoor” access road will help limit traffic at the Route 329 intersection.
Supervisor Paul Link had opinions that differed slightly from his fellow supervisors.
“I’m really behind the planning,” he said. “None of us are experts, so we hire experts to advise us.” He said if the township’s planning commission and traffic engineer signed off on the plan, it wouldn’t be right to go against the experts. He also said he doesn’t think a cul-de-sac at Atlas and Weaversville is necessary due to the low total of accidents there.
Hassler disagreed with this statement, citing personal experience. As a supervisor for ten years, he said, he has seen the negative impacts of decisions made by past planning commissions.
Solicitor Lincoln Treadwell reminded supervisors that the Wawa plan cannot be recorded until the Stone Ridge Subdivision plan is recorded. At August’s planning commission meeting, the township and developers also agreed that Wawa will not receive a certificate of occupancy until the township decides on a final traffic plan.
With the plan’s vote extended through October 11, supervisors intend to vote on its approval during their October 10 meeting.
“Think about some of the things you heard,” Hassler urged developers.