A controversial plan to build a super Wawa on the site of the Barclay Farms Shopping Center along Route 70 once again compelled residents at an Aug. 16 open council meeting to request that the governing body help remedy the situation.
First submitted to Cherry Hill Township on April 13, plans for a 13.07-acre plot that encompasses both residential and commercial zones would call for a retail store open all hours, as well as 16 fuel pumps.
The Wawa would be built at the northwest corner of the center’s parking lot and require the demolition of two structures. a pet-supply store and the vacant two-story Barclay Pavilion office building.
In addition, the Philadelphia-based owner of the center, Kaiserman Company Inc., intends to demolish a house on West Gate Drive to facilitate construction of another pathway onto the road, as well as to eliminate the landscaped median and signage directing travelers to the entrance of the Barclay Farm neighborhood.
“It’s going to create a massive problem for anybody trying to leave the neighborhood,” stated resident Sarah Joslin, referring to traffic that fans out from the intersection to Trinity Presbyterian Church, as well as a half-dozen residential streets.
“Usually I can get out maybe in one light or sometimes two,” she added. “With this, I anticipate multiple lights in order to leave that area if this will go forward.”
A similar median from Kingston Estates across Route 70 where it meets with Kingston Drive also would be removed under Wawa’s changes to the surrounding roads.
“The stacking situation there is awful at peak hours, and I just want to express my concern,” said Kingston resident Anne Einhorn, regarding that side of the intersection feeding a half-dozen residential roadways.
“It’s also the only area (where) we have a definitive distinction that this is Kingston Estates. We barely have any green space left.”
The Wawa application has yet to be scheduled before the planning board, which generally meets on the first and third Mondays of each month. The convenience-store giant, based in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, boasts more than six locations in the township alone.
Cherry Hill was previously picked for one of these “super” structures — a business operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week along Haddonfield Road and Graham Avenue — in fall 2019.
Council President David Fleisher acknowledged the seven-member body is not the planning board.
“As council members become more familiar with this application, we have concerns,” he revealed during the meeting’s public comment.
“Particularly, we object to the removal of both medians at the entrance of the Barclay neighborhood as well as in Kingston,” Fleisher added. “And we are making that objection known to the DOT (department of transportation).”
Council’s representative to the planning board is Carole Roskoph.
To raise public awareness of the impending Wawa site plan, a group calling itself Preserve Barclay created a Facebook page in late July to go with a website that went online earlier in the year.
“Folks, this is a neighborhood killer,” exclaimed resident Martha Wright. “This town does not need another gas station. This town does not need more traffic backed up on Route 70. And this town does need its landscaped median entrances and open space.”
According to the township calendar, the next meeting of the planning board is not scheduled until Sept. 20. Township council is scheduled to hold an open public meeting one week prior.
To find out more about the citizens group which wants to fight the proposed Wawa, visit: https://www.preservebarclay.com/.