Since my local government has tried to ruin my life by building a mega gas station near my house, I have become a sort of whistleblower.
I live in a quaint little town in a suburb of Philadelphia, an area that has a perfect mix of residential and commercial developments. Unfortunately, that is about to change because Wawa is planning on building a Super Wawa convenience store and gas station at the end of my street. The store will be less than 300 feet from my house, and the gas pumps will be only 70 feet from my neighbor living in the corner house. The project calls for a 5,585 square foot store, 16 gas pumps, and a full canopy covering the whole operation. It will be situated within a current property that contains an empty grass field and a house on the corner. If the plan goes through, Wawa will be fully paying for their development, but also the rerouting of a current road that runs directly next to the property. This road will curve and intersect with another road that runs on the other side of the property. For reference, the proposed sight of the Wawa sits between three roads, one of which connects to the street that I live on.
It is easy to imagine why people living near this proposal would be strongly against it. Wawa is planning to build a 16 pump mega gas station and store that is open 24/7 in a 95% residential area. If the plan goes forward, it will be as if the sun never goes down for anyone living near the Wawa because not only is the store in line with my street, but the entire gas operation with bright flood lights would be directly parallel with my street and several other homes. On top of this, the increased traffic that would most likely occur due to this project will not be adequately dealt with despite the rerouting of a current road, meaning that it will back up and cause even more accidents in the area. Now it is easy to guess where the traffic will back up to, it will flow right onto my street causing the current peaceful low traffic road to become a major high volume road. This of course would be a disaster for any families with small children who would overnight be living on a dangerous road.
The final major problem with this Wawa proposal is that crime will almost certainly increase because there will be a 24/7 operating business in a location where there never was one before, encouraging would be criminals to use it as a meeting point without the risk of being caught. People who wish to do drugs or the like and do not want to be detected by law enforcement in a vacant lot can conduct business right out in the open without issue. And if they ever run low on money, there is several houses surrounding the property, including my street, that can be burglarized. And to say that crime will not afflict my community just by a new gas station being built is simply not true. It is a fact that multiple car loads of young adults sit in the parking lot of a Wawa in the next town over and do drugs. Perhaps they are only teenagers and just doing marijuana, but why would we want to bring that type of risk in to our community when we currently do not have them?
Clearly, all of these problems and risks outway any benefit of possibly updating the feel of Holland or making the traffic situation slightly better. But unfortunately, local politicians and elected officials representing my township do not feel the same way. Since none of them actually live near the proposed Wawa, they are seemingly welcoming a mega gas station to my community with open arms. For their own interests it makes sense, allow Wawa to build their store and reroute the roads while paying for everything in the process. Then, they can just sit back and watch the tax revenue that will be generated from the store roll in. Everyone wins, the township and Wawa. Well that is to say, everyone wins except the people living near the proposed Wawa.
So when these concerns and many others were brought to the attention of my township's supervisors, planning head, and zoning officer, they simply brushed them off as unimportant. They are in fact unimportant to them because again, they do not live on top of the site and do not have to worry about any of the potential consequences that may come with the development. Some of these officials have even ridiculed myself and others for being foolish enough to buy a house near a property that could be developed. They fail to mention of course that this land has a house on it and has never been developed commercially. In addition, the previous proposals by the township to develop this plot of land included some kind of low impact development like a doctors office or even a buffer zone like a park or open space. Unfortunately, when it became convenient for a township which is decades in debt to allow a thriving commercial business to be built in an inappropriate location, they jumped at the chance while neglecting the people that live near the site.
So that brings us to what is being done to stop this proposal. Currently, there is a petition to stop the development of Wawa in Holland which has garnered nearly 2000 signatures. Also, there is a smaller group of residents who strongly oppose the project that have been in contact with local politicians and business owners that are willing to help. There has also been talk about potentially having a rally or protest which would be attended by local media to display the strong opposition to this project, although this is still being planned. Overall, the proposed Super Wawa in my town would be a disaster to the currently small and welcoming community of Holland, and should it be built, it will be an eyesore bringing hazards and crime to the residents of my community for generations to come.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Brett Nicholas