LOWER SALFORD — Plans for a Wawa and 78 new neighboring homes along Sumneytown Pike (Route 63) between Clemens Road and an extension to Quarry Road took a step forward with preliminary approvals by the Lower Salford Township Board of Supervisors at the board's Oct. 3 meeting.
The Wawa and Mainland Pointe developments are technically separate ones, but both are parts of what initially was a larger plan. The first part of that was the 39 homes built on Buckingham Circle around 2000.
In the intervening years, there have been a number of plans for the about 20 remaining acres of the tract.
The Mainland Pointe plans include 18 single-family detached homes, five apartment buildings with 12 apartments each for a total of 60 apartments, and some commercial pads, developer Bryan Hunsberger said.
The Wawa, which will include fuel dispensers, will be at the intersection of Route 63 and the planned Quarry Road extension. A traffic light will be installed at the intersection as part of the plans.
Concerns raised by Buckingham Circle residents about the plans include that a connector street between Buckingham Circle and the new development will become a cut-through to Route 63 or the Wawa, greatly increasing traffic on their narrow, residential street.
At the Oct. 3 meeting board Chairman Doug Gifford said the township shares those concerns, but the connecting accessway is required by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The connector has been on the plans since the Buckingham Circle plans were approved, he said.
"I know that tie-in is required to comply with the PennDOT permiture, so we have to have the tie-in," Gifford said, "but I don't think we as a board want to see any traffic going through that when construction is going on. We don't want any construction traffic going through there."
The Mainland Pointe construction is expected to take two to three years, so the connector street will remain closed for that period, he said. In the meantime, the township is suggesting that some residents, township engineer Michele Fountain, Township Manager Joe Czajkowski and one or two of the township supervisors get together to try to come up with ways to cut down on the cut-through traffic when the street does open, he said.
"We certainly, as a minimum, could put in speed tables, but I think there are a lot of things we could do to discourage cut-throughs, and that's what we want to do," Gifford said.
Although there are other developments with similar tie-ins, this one is unique because of the Route 63 tie-in and traffic back-ups that are more likely to lead to cut-throughs, resident Ben Gorton said.
In answer to a question from another resident, Fountain said the plans include the required number of parking spaces for the development, with seven spaces that could be required to be installed later if necessary initially being kept in reserve.
Rick Mast, the engineer for the plans, said the apartment buildings include 40 garages that are not calculated into the parking space requirements.
In answer to a question about a requested waiver for tree sizes, James Garrity, the township's solicitor, said, as the board always does, it will make a decision on the waiver requests when final approval is given, not at the preliminary approval stage.
In answer to another question about the types of trees that will be planted at the site in light of the Spotted Lanternfly infestation, Hunsberger said it will not be types of trees that are known to attract the Spotted Lanternflies.
In separate votes, preliminary approval was given for both the Mainland Pointe and Wawa plans. Gifford said the Mainland Pointe approval is needed for the Wawa plans because there are public improvements in the Mainland Pointe part that must be completed at the same time or before the Wawa can be built.
Outside the meeting room, Hunsberger said he doesn't know when the Wawa will be built, but expects it to be "soon."
In a separate matter at the meeting, Holly Hosterman, assistant to the township manager, said the township will receive this year's Muncipal Environmental Stewardship Award from Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy on Oct. 18.
"That award is given to municipalities that make significant contributions towards improving or preserving the Perkiomen Watershed as well as increasing open space," she said.