NORTH WILDWOOD ─ Apparently, Wawa convenience store still faces opposition regarding its appeal to remove barricades at Maryland and Walnut avenues.
"When we originally appeared before the zoning board in 2012," Wawa attorney Stephen Nehmad wrote, "the rationale for the bollard system was the significant neighborhood dislocation caused by the former bar and nightclub that existed on the westerly corner of Maryland and Spruce Avenues."
Nehmad's letter was disclosed by North Wildwood City Council July 18, 2017.
With the demolition of Coconut Cove and the recent construction of residential homes on the site, Wawa claims both parties will be better served if the barricade no longer stood.
Nehmad also reminded council that "our client's Wawa has been open and operational now for over four years."
"Rather, vehicular circulation would be enhanced by having the street system function as originally intended since there is no fear of late night/early morning potentially drunk drivers traversing the area and causing attendant risk and harm," Nehmad wrote.
City council members clarified that Wawa had a "conditional site plan," contingent upon the closure of Maryland and Walnut avenues. Mayor Patrick Rosenello said the franchise owner would need to amend its application before the zoning board.
The Herald was recently contacted by resident Mike Palmer who stands in opposition to the barricades being opened, and the "short notice" neighbors were given of a meeting, scheduled for Feb. 14. Wawa representatives were scheduled to appear before the zoning board, offering both the franchise and public opportunity to express opinions.
Thus prompted, the Herald contacted City Hall. According to city officials, Wawa will not appear at the Feb. 14 meeting. Instead, the presentation will occur March 14.
Rosenello concurred, adding that the city has "no control" over the dates and times of such meetings. Dates are determined by state law and, according to Rosenello, Wawa has complied in sending of letters to residents within 200 feet of the store's location.
Palmer told the Herald he has had multiple contacts with Rosenello and disagreed with Wawa's proposal. Palmer also claims Wawa did not send letters within the proper time frame.
"What's changed?" Palmer said, referring to the barricades. According to Palmer, the barricades are still needed.
"Someone could get hurt," Palmer added. Palmer fears that increased summer traffic will negatively impact the neighborhood if the streets were opened.
Young people fishing "at the corner" and pedestrians could face danger, he fears.
According to Palmer, a neighbor has gathered signatures on a petition against the barricades' removal. What happens with the petition depends upon the Zoning Board's decision.
"Sneaking" was Palmer's description of the original Feb. 14 meeting.
Rosenello clarified the decision rests with the zoning board, not with city government.
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