Lehigh Valley

Emmaus approves rezoning that would permit Wawa

Traffic concerns cited by opponents

EMMAUS, Pa. - By a 5-2 vote Monday, the Emmaus Borough Council approved the rezoning of just over four acres of a 17.3-acre land tract from medium-density residential to a limited commercial zoning district.

This would allow a developer to erect a full-service Wawa Food Market behind the McDonald's restaurant and adjacent to the Colonial Crest Apart complex, all located near the intersection of Cedar Crest Boulevard and Chestnut Street in the borough.

About 30 area residents filled council chambers to voice their concerns, primarily over traffic and pedestrian safety issues arising from a new Wawa convenience store, food market and fuel station doing business in the area, considering its location at one of the most congested intersections in the region, which also has a notable amount of pedestrian traffic from the nearby high school.

In addition to local neighbors, business owners, including several restaurateurs, addressed council over the increased competition as well as local traffic and safety concerns.

President of Emmaus Main Street Partners Michael Irwin pointed out the eventual stormwater runoff  into local waterways due to the development and the possible erosion to open space lands.

Resident Deborah Brownbridge inquired of council regarding the increased truck traffic on local roads, since the new Wawa will also be patronized by truckers.

Traub's Doggies of Emmaus owner Mike Nonnemaker also cited the increased truck traffic and questioned, "From a purely safety standpoint where is all the additional traffic going to go?"

He mentioned that only with extensive road widening will drivers have the ability to make already difficult left-hand turns while traveling on most of the area corridors.

Council members Jeffrey Shubzda  and Teri Sorg-McManamon were the only "nay" votes to the rezoning. 

Councilman Roy Anders called attention to the fact that in the last three years there were 17 traffic accidents at Chestnut Street and Cedar Crest Boulevard, although he supported the rezoning. He also noted 15 other accidents on other areas of Chestnut Street and Green Drive in the last several years. 

Council said it was counting on PennDOT-ordered traffic studies and other state mandates being followed by developer Cedar Crest Chestnut Development to ensure safe driving conditions and proper traffic flow in the area. 

Council also said it expects to have all borough ordinances followed regarding the development and traffic conditions. 

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