MARPLE >> An agreement reached among the township, its zoning board and Royal Farms will allow the convenience store proposed on a site near West Chester Pike, the Blue Route and Lawrence Road to operate 24 hours a day while providing protection for nearby residents.
The settlement, which included input from the homeowners, was negotiated in response to the zoners’ decision in December 2016 to deny a request for continuous operation for the store and 16-pump fueling station and providing diesel fuel at each dispensary. Royal Farms appealed the decision to Delaware County Common Pleas Court, prompting the discussions.
The convenience store is part of a development planned for a portion of the 30.6-acre parcel. A 128-room Fairfield Inn has been approved and an LA Fitness and bank are planned as part of the 170,800 square feet of retail space, including an 80,000-square foot Giant projected for a portion of the currently-vacant property.
One of the major concerns regarding 24-hour operation is crime, a concern addressed by Police Chief Tom Murray. He noted the township has recorded approximately four robberies per year in the last 10 years and the store’s location would not appear to make it a target.
“I do not see this as a major issue, as time of day is typically not a factor,” he said. “There is the possibility of a robbery whether a store is open 12 or 24 hours a day.”
The terms of the settlement prohibit deliveries between 11 p.m.-6 a.m., require outdoor illumination to comply with township ordinances, prohibit lighting the rooftop cupola between 11 p.m.-6 a.m. and either eliminating the proposed outdoor seating area or moving it away from Vassar Avenue. Royal Farms will also provide additional landscaping to reduce sound and light, including either six-foot fencing or an evergreen buffer on top of the berm adjacent to residences.
The zoning denial of the variance providing diesel fuel at each dispensary remains in effect.
The question of whether to pursue the court case was tempered by the fact that seven businesses in the township are open 24 hours, said commissioner Rob Fortebuono. He noted he was pleased with the demands.
“If I lived there, what would I want done,” he said. “My goal was to hear what the residents were saying.”