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Hatboro Residents Band Together to Fight Wawa

The yet-to-be-incorporated Hatboro Residents' Association is meeting monthly and is in the process of registering as a nonprofit group.

It may have been jumpstarted by , but April Fox-Regan said it won’t end there.

Fox-Regan, who almost singlehandedly drummed up enough support for a yet-to-be-incorporated Hatboro Residents’ Association, has big plans for the nonprofit group she hopes to have registered within the coming months.

“We have everything in place for a good town except a residents’ association,” she said. “It’s like a missing piece.”

And, with the addition of that last piece of the puzzle, Fox-Regan said she hopes to “survive the turmoil around the Wawa situation” and continue to branch out to help her town with historic preservation efforts, town beautification, cultural and artistic events, quality of life concerns and more.

“We’re not here just about Wawa,” she said.

But, at the moment, to buy a trio of historic properties – including the and the building currently housing - knock down all but the former grist mill and build a six-pump gas station on Horsham and York roads, is definitely at the forefront. During last week’s meeting for the fledgling Hatboro Residents’ Association, Fox-Regan said 65 people showed up and “everybody was enthusiastic and participatory.”

Together, she said the team of would-be association members have divvied the borough into 14 zones and plan to go door-to-door soliciting signatures for a petition opposing Wawa.

“You can sign it or not,” Fox-Regan said of the “old-school” way in which her group intends to collect signatures of borough residents of voting age. “So many people in the community are asking us to do something about Wawa.”

Fox-Regan said the group is also making a "friends of Hatboro" Wawa petition for non-residents to sign. 

"So many friends from Horsham and particularly Upper Moreland consider Hatboro to be their hometown too," she wrote in an e-mail to Patch. "No organized plan for those neighborhoods has yet been made, but suggestions and volunteers are welcome to contact Heather Hamilton, our email and map expert (or me)."

Since the mere mention of another Wawa in Hatboro first came to light last month, residents have been divided over whether a shot in the arm to the borough’s tax base would be worth the loss of 18th century buildings, increased traffic and the addition of a commercial business in a residential district.

In an , 74 percent of the more than 700 total votes indicated that respondents were in favor of a second Wawa, while 21 percent opposed it. 

Wawa representatives made a brief presentation to the borough council last month and plan to host an informal on Feb. 28 at .

Far from a done deal, Wawa has yet to file a formal plan with Hatboro. If and when plans are filed, the developer would need to be granted a variance by the zoning hearing board in order to build a commercial business in a residential zone.

Wawa Regional Real Estate Manager Susan Bratton told Patch she did not have a timeframe for when the store might be built or opened.

“We wanted to introduce the concept,” Bratton said following last month’s council meeting. “We’re putting our toe in the water.”

But, before the convenience store giant can submerge its foot, Fox-Regan and her supporters intend to be there, petition in hand, to try to thwart the development.

While Fox-Regan had suggested previously that borough residents align forces to buy the Old Mill Inn and the adjacent property from TD Bank for the , she said she’s not so sure that could happen.

“I’m just one person. Our group is so young that it’s growing and changing every day,” Fox-Regan said of her idea, which initially grew from a January Patch article about the . “We’re taking it a day at a time.”

In the end, whether Wawa comes or goes, Fox-Regan, a third-generation Hatboro resident, said she wants to encourage as many people as possible to get involved.

“It’s about having people come together and have a voice,” she said. “The town belongs to the people who live there.”

Tara February 10, 2012 at 03:48 AM
I am not sure but I believe the Old Mill is NOT a registered historical building. To be listed as one doesn't the present owner have to start that ball rolling? If so I doubt TD is ging to do that. Does Zoning support a WaWa? Has zoning ever been changed or adjusted in Hatboro in the past for something like a WaWa? Can you imagine wanting to move yourself and your neighbors telling you no way we don't like the people you are selling to we are going to fight you? Horsham residents tried to fight the WaWa on Horsham Rd (the one closer to Maple). That was an old home that ended up bank owned. And if TD owns both property's and wants to sell them together who has the right to insist they sell them seperately? Would I want to live next to a WaWa no, but I didn't purchase a property adjacent to a commercial property either. The Old Mill may or may not be falling apart but it is deteriorating, it is in a flood zone, from what I understand flood insurance is high. Do the residents want to incur the cost to preserve it, insure it, etc... with an increase in their taxes? Or do you really believe Montgomery has $ to give as grants for that? Montgomery County is in debt and has had to cut grants in many area's where is the $ supposed to come from for all of this historical preservation?
1904Boro February 10, 2012 at 12:18 PM
What was said at the concept presentation to counsel was that Wawa was planning to preserve and protect the Old Mill by addressing the flooding and storm water drainage issues with the properties which would help tremendously with the residents homes, and school upstream and business’s in that whole area. The cost to taxpayers would be $0 and as far as usage of the Old Mill after that they have not said, but maybe they would donate it to the borough for the historical Hatboro artifacts since it has no real value otherwise.
Tara February 10, 2012 at 12:41 PM
If WaWa addressed and was able to stop some of the flooding and draining issues I would think the residents would LOVE that? But if they fix the water issues wouldn't the Old Mill property actually be worth something? I have seen multiple posts about this property being "Donated". Was that something WaWa said? Is this a common practice that a bank or large company would actually pay for a property and then donate it?
EE February 10, 2012 at 12:44 PM
You have to watch an be careful of what businesses come into a small community.If people want to live around low end stores there are some good properties off of 5Th Street an even Front Street in Philly.They used to be great shopping districts.Look at them areas now.Maybe even Kensington Ave or Frankford Ave.They all have one thing in common.Years ago they were family oriented areas and tight neighborhood shopping areas.Now they are shit holes.
EE February 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Montco is in debt so is the country.We should just write a letter to Obama he can just raise the debt ceiling agian.He has no problem with that.lol
Sid Frank February 10, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Nobody thinks Hatboro will ever be Doylestown. Nobody wants Hatboro to be Doylestown. Nobody wants upscale boutiques. But do want to see SOME of our history preserved. What people are forgetting is that this is not necessarily about the Old Mill, it's also about a THRIVING business (the Spa Escape) in an historic building that will definitely be torn down to make way for the Wawa. What if Wawa wants to save the Old Mill? Are people willing to demolish a successful business and an historic house (Spa Escape) to save the Old Mill? And to Al, our country was built by a few dreamers. It's ok to dream. Not to be Doylestown, but to be Hatboro. And to be Hatboro, we should save SOMETHING from our history.
Sid Frank February 10, 2012 at 01:44 PM
The Old MIll is not a registered historic building. Eve if it was, that really doesn't protect it from demolition. Anybody can put a property on the Historic registry, but it takes a while. The old mill was built in a flood zone because it was intended to flood. That's how they got the big wheel to turn. It's been standing 300 years and will probably stand another 300. Again, it was built to withstand floods. Tara, I am not sure, but I believe our council has the $ in their capital accounts to at least get the ball rolling on renovating the Old Mill and making it into a museum (on a second floor to avoid floods). I think if the residents wanted it, and if we could get additional grants, we could make something happen. It will take time and patience (which I know is difficult for people who love convenience), but in the long run, it could be a great boost for Hatboro to have a little museum in that place. It could be a visiting center for school groups and history buffs. If a small admission was charged and there was a thriving gift shop, the place might actually be able to sustain itself. Now, it's a dream, but why not dream??????!!!!!! I think it would be great!!
1904boro February 10, 2012 at 02:27 PM
They may both have been built around the same time Cira 1724 according to history books available at the Union Library, but the building with the most historical significance is the Old Mill for it's contribution during the War is it Not? Why didn't the owner of Spa Escape buy the property from the previous owner when the properties where seperate and not tied together? I'd think a lease to own with the pervious owner prior to defualt would have been sufficant. Why hasn't the bank booted her if they don't care to talk to her as sum post have stated, cause once the bank took possesion isn't her lease invailed then? I just think if Wawa is willing as they have stated in open forum to council to preserve and protect the Old Mill and all that intails at no cost to the Borough it makes more sense than to stand on principle and force that area to suffer cause of insufficant funds to address ALL the problems not just buy a couple of buildings and drop (donate) them in the lap of the borough and the tax payers to deal.I think with the parking at the Old Mill even if it was preseved would not lend it's self to much more than a small office of some kind that is why I'd say a Hatboro Historical Museum would be nice and also make some of the HRA ideas (preserving Hatbor History) a reality.
BBH February 10, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Please remember to attend the Feb 28th meeting at Pennypack Elementary-especially those that are in favor of developing/updating our town. At this point, I will say that I do not want the HRA speaking for me. I think that it is a big mistake to not even consider what this development would do for the community. Please check out this site-Wawa COULD be a good neighbor-IF even considered. http://www.wawa.com/wawaweb/community.aspx
Sid Frank February 10, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Please remember, the HRA will not speak for you. It will speak for residents who want some kind of historic preservation. They realize there are many opposing viewpoints and you are certainly entitled to yours. And also remember, Wawa is a great company to work for and they already are a great neighbor. At the corner of Moreland and York Roads. I'm happy to get my shorti hoagie there and my gas at the Sunoco.
EE February 10, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I am sure Wawa is good for our commuinity.Why not redo the other one? Why would you kick out a thriving business just to put in a bigger business.If i am not mistaken i think the Spa Escape has 5 full time workers an 10 -15 part time.It is hard enough to run a good business theses days so why make it harder on the Spa.You are not gaining any tax money from what i understand.Actually i would think you are losing.The home behind the property has agreed to sell to Wawa the property taxes for that one home are roughly thirty five hundred.You then have the Billet House i heard the taxes for that property were eighteen thousand a year.If you tear down all three i think you would be loosing money in property taxes.These figures of course are estimates i don't know exactally what they pay.
BBH February 11, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Sid you mean Monument and York-right?
BBH February 11, 2012 at 02:39 AM
For the amount of bullying that is going on here -how could someone dream of saying no to a HRA petition?????
J.R. sr February 11, 2012 at 02:50 AM
you are both wrong...It is MONTGOMERY and York....
J.R. sr February 11, 2012 at 02:51 AM
I am all for a Wawa too....just not there. I think the Wawa would be better suited at the North end of town, where that (seemingly)never open Exxon is located...
Dolores Forget February 11, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Oh, please!
Mary Cummings February 11, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Oh my goodness. Nice try BBH. I don't see any bullying. I actually see people from both sides brining up good points. What are you trying to stir up here? You can certainly say no to the HRA petition. Make your voice heard! What's important is the boro council and Wawa hear what the residents want. And if that's a Wawa then it's a wawa. But I'm afraid you might be in the minority! In the mean time, lets try not to get sucked into the cess pool of finger pointing and intimidation. These boards could be great discussions or they could be places where people vent their anger and nothing gets done. Where's the fun in that?
Mary Cummings February 11, 2012 at 01:22 PM
I agree, JR. I am afraid that the Wawa in town will close too, leaving another abaondoned store in the center of Hatboro.........
Mary Cummings February 11, 2012 at 01:27 PM
This is a long term vs. short term investment here. Yes, a Taco bell would be great (love those), but if we invest in our historic area, in the long term we can grow our economy. Nobody wants to be Doylestown. I grew up there. I don't like what it's turned into (too uppity!). Hatboro needs to fill its business IN THE CENTER OF TOWN with things that are affordable, nice, and clean. In the meantime, lets focus on investing in the few historic buildings we have left. Believe it or not, it could help our property values in the long term. I don't think a Taco Bell (although delicious) can't do that!
Keyser Soze February 12, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Yes, let us fight WaWa and they will just build somewhere just outside of Hatboro. Then, the WaWa located at York and MONTGOMERY (which WaWa rents), will close because it no longer fits into WaWa's current business plan. If we keep it up, soon we can have every store on York Road closed, then have the town all to ourselves.
Jason Gutekunst February 12, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I am really looking forward to the meeting in 2 weeks. Having just moved to town after buying a house I look forward to getting more into the direction Hatboro is taking. I enjoyed many dinners at the Old Mill, and as a business owner myself I have no real idea as to what to do with the current property. It would be a nightmare doing anything with the building; first in the hoops that would you need to jump through getting it fixed up, and second living with the fear of it flooding again. I personally am against a massive Wawa opening up right at the edge of town with one already in town. And to bulldoze two wonderful buildings down, especially with a thriving business already located in one only makes me more against it.
Anonymous76 February 12, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I think Hatboro could do something with those two buildings to draw in visitors. No one living outside the borough knows about the history of the grist mill. Not a museum, per se, but something that would highlight the history. Any possibility of moving the off-main Hatboro theater group (I forget their name) to the Spa building?
J.R. sr February 12, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Keyser, according to your post, Wawa will be closing the in-town location anyway, because it doesn't fit "their business plan". So why lose two buildings with historical significance to our town, when they would so obviously close the current location. The way you put it, the people of Hatboro should fight a new location, no matter where it is planned......
Keyser Soze February 13, 2012 at 12:04 AM
J.R. sr- Umm, no, that is not what I'm saying in the least. In today's current climate, it is fiscally irresponsible to turn away a large business that is willing to invest in this town (along with its tax money) simply to save an old, moldy, crumbling building that George Washington once slept in. This town's store fronts are emptying at an alarming rate and are remaining vacant. In a different climate, I may have a different opinion. So, what is your fix for this? History is nice, but not to the point of the town having tumbleweed blowing around.
Keyser Soze February 13, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Frances, are you suggesting that the Village Players squat at a building that is owned by TD Bank?
Dolores Forget February 13, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Keyser or whoever you are when you are not hiding behind a screen name, you appear starstruck by "big business" moving into town. Wawa at the end of town won't have any impact (good or bad) on the empty holes in the center of town. Big business has the interest of the corporation at heart, not the town they are operating in. To believe otherwise is naive
Keyser Soze February 16, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Humm, let me think, what could Wawa bring to town? I know, which is one of the arguments used by the "No Wawa" crowd: a bunch of vehicular traffic. What road do you think the vehicles will travel on to get to the Wawa? York Road. So, I disagree, more vehicular traffic in town brings more exposure of the businesses in the center of town.
little eileen March 02, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Cindy, Hatboro isn't Doylestown....YET. If you stick the same chain stores in every town in Pennsylvania and simultaneously destroy the things that make Hatboro unique....The Old Mill Inn, for example...then eventually all you will have left is a bunch of towns that are all the same. What's the point in that? Free citizens should have the right to sell and build on their own property...yes...as long as it isn't infringing on anyone else's rights. And, at the point where you're destroying a landmark that Hatboro is recognized for and that many, many residents love, you are creating a situation where the public should be able to say no. Just like the town would have a right stop you from building an 'adult' drive-in theater in your backyard because most residents don't want it there. It saddens me to see so many of you willing to tear something down that is beautiful and irreplaceable. Wawa's are a dime a dozen, ugly, and according to Wawa's own spokesperson...probably not going to be a permanent fixture in town. Why destroy the Old Mill for that? If most residents don't want that, they should absolutely be allowed to stop it from happening. I just can't believe how little people value the things that make Hatboro, Hatboro.
little eileen March 02, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Keyser, the climate WILL change one day. It's not forever and it isn't an excuse to tear down history. Geez people, this is why European towns are so much more beautiful that 99% of American towns. They preserve their history. We throw it away and forget it as soon as we possibly can.
little eileen March 02, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Keyser...the Wawa rep herself said it was unlikely a new Wawa would significantly affect traffic patterns. They expect most customers to be people who would be passing by anyway.

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