Redner’s Wins Variances, Exception for Fuel Station

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Zoning variances and a special exception to allow Redner’s Warehouse Markets to build a retail fueling station at 1258 N. Charlotte St. (at top), just a stone’s throw away from the chain’s supermarket in the North End Shopping Center, were unanimously approved Tuesday (Sept. 21, 2021) night by the Lower Pottsgrove Zoning Hearing Board.

The company must comply with all township regulations, including building and setback requirements, and the project must conform to specifications offered by its witnesses during their hearing testimony, board Solicitor Kenneth Picardi noted.

Under one of the variances, Redner’s was granted up to 18 months to complete the project. Its representatives said they hope it can be finished before then. Company attorney Alexander Elliker said the extended time was sought “out of an abundance of caution” under continuing pandemic conditions.

“It’ll be nice to have something done with that corner,” township Board of Commissioners‘ President Bruce Foltz said, after citing township efforts of more than a dozen years to prompt development there. An observer during the zoners’ hour-long hearing at the Buchert Road municipal building, Foltz indicated he was concerned by the property’s history to date. “I just hope (the project) won’t fall by the wayside,” he added.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Redner’s Director of Store Planning Steve Moatz replied. “We’re definitely going to improve that section of the community,” he pledged.

Redner’s tentative plans

Redner's Wins Variances, Exception for Fuel Station

Redner’s next step in the development process is to meet with Lower Pottsgrove’s Planning Commission for a review of formal engineering plans. If acceptable, planners can later recommend the drawings for approval by the township Board of Commissioners. Redner’s is expected to introduce the project to the Planning Commission in October. Its review may take months, depending primarily on outside agency actions.

As a preview, however, Senior Project Manager Eric Britz of Bohler Engineering (above) said the current site would be cleared in its entirety. That will enable construction of the fueling station with a small customer kiosk, three fueling units with two pumps each covered by a canopy, and fronted on both streets with trees and landscaping.

The station will operate Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Moatz added, with fully recessed canopy and exterior lighting that Britz said residential neighbors on Mervine Street would not find intrusive.

A Redner’s employee would occupy the 210-square-foot kiosk during all operating hours. Personal amenities like tobacco products, and automotive-related items like oil, would be the only items sold from the kiosk. The property does not include a convenience store.

The new station is designed to provide “a drastic improvement” in the use of surrounding space, Britz added. Where the current building and pumps in some cases now offer only 7 or fewer feet of setback from the property’s ultimate right-of-way line, he said, plans call for more than three times that amount of space. They also reduce the number of pump units from eight to three. The result, he said, was a cleaner, less cluttered, more open site.

Redner's Wins Variances, Exception for Fuel Station
Zoning Hearing Board Vice Chairman Mike Boccella, and board member Joe Vecchio as they prepared Tuesday for the Redner’s hearing

In response to zoning board member questions, Britz acknowledged the company earlier explored adding a driveway connection from the supermarket parking lot fronting North Charlotte into the station. Ultimately it was abandoned, he said, because the grade was considered too steep, additional asphalt would have increased the site’s impervious coverage and potential storm water run-off, and required parking spaces would be lost.

Although Redner’s will own the roughly half-acre corner parcel, its supermarket is only a tenant in the shopping center. The retaining wall at the east end of the lot is owned by the center landlord. Foltz asked the company to add a decorative fence atop the wall to prevent someone from jumping off there, which has happened at least once in the past. Redner’s lacks the right to erect a fence, Britz replied, but said he will ensure the landlord knows of the commissioners’ concern.

State and federal environmental agencies are expected to accept earlier remediation measures of petroleum products detected years ago at the site. The property sale cannot be finalized without those approvals, Britz said, and observed they also may take time. It was his understanding, he added, that monitoring wells at the property would continue to be monitored as a condition of its sale.

Editor’s note: Eight paragraphs of additional detail, and two additional photos, were added to this story after its initial publication Wednesday at 8:41 a.m.

Photos by The Posts