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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.”

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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