HAMMONTON — The would-be developer of a proposed Super Wawa at the intersection of the White Horse Pike, Route 206 and Route 54 is struggling to come up with design plans to make the convenience store also function as a gateway to Hammonton’s downtown.
Bellevue Property Associates has postponed presentations to the Zoning Board three times, most recently July 25, since its original plans were rejected in April.
The developer wanted more time to meet with community groups and to tweak the building rendering, said project supporter Leeann Lahoud, after Bellevue postponed its July 25 scheduled appearance. Lahoud’s family is selling one of two lots to Bellevue for the project.
No one from Bellevue returned repeated requests for comment.
The proposed site, at the southwestern corner of the intersection, became part of a new Gateway GW3 Crossroads district when the town amended its master plan in 2011 and embraced a form-based code for its downtown and the main road leading to it.
The code mandates that new buildings have a particular style in specific areas. It helps protect the overall look of a community, especially in high visibility areas, said Planning Board Vice Chairman and Richard Stockton College geology professor Michael Hozik, who led the effort to create the form-based code.
The Gateway district is intended to signal to motorists on the White Horse Pike that they have entered Hammonton, and to show the location of downtown, officials have said. It requires that newly constructed buildings look like buildings in the downtown area, located about a mile south on Route 54, also known as Bellevue Avenue — the main street in town.
“What we wanted was something that would give a sendoff to the downtown, but on the pike,” Hozik said. “We used the promenade in Marlton as example, with the sense of downtown buildings but in a shopping mall setting.”
Hammonton is one of the few places in New Jersey with a form-based code, said Town Engineer Kevin Dixon, of Dixon Associates in Galloway Township.
Dixon said he has been meeting with Bellevue Associates, and the design is “on the path” to meeting the zoning requirements.
“The board recognizes the importance of this application in relation to the district,” Dixon said. “It’s the first application in this district since the passage of the code,” he said.
Lahoud, of Egg Harbor Township, said she has seen the new plan and believes it will satisfy the town.
“It’s a beautiful design, with wrought iron fence and columns,” Lahoud said. She said the building will not look like a standard Wawa, and will be built of brick and stacked stone.
“They are trying hard to keep the town happy,” Lahoud said.
The Wawa application needs both use and design variances from the Zoning Board. Bellevue Associates wants to build a 4,000-square-foot store and single canopy with six fuel pumps at the 1.6-acre site. The property is made up of two lots, now housing a closed gas station and the Midway Professional Center office building.
Bellevue is now scheduled to make its presentation at the Aug. 22 board meeting.
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