Preliminary plans for turning an old quarry property into a shopping center with big box stores has received the Haverford Township Planning Commission’s recommendation for approval, subject to conditions, but the proposal has received some opposition from residents of Upper Darby and Haverford townships.
The developers for the project, David Crockett of the Quarry Center LLC, and Eric Mallory of Eureka Development, are proposing to build a 120,587-square-foot Lowes and an 82,153-square-foot Giant supermarket with a gas station, on the old quarry site at 116 Township Line Road, right behind the Kohl's, Lori Hanlon-Widdop, assistant township manager for Haverford Township, wrote in an email to the Haverford-Havertown Patch.
The shopping center would sit on a 30-acre lot and also include a retail store measuring 12,000 square feet, a 4,020-square-foot free-standing bank with a drive-through, and a 4,826-square-foot fast food restaurant with a drive-through window, Hanlon-Widdop said.
The shopping center would create 300 new jobs, with most of them being full-time positions with a good wage, Crockett said.
Crockett, whose company owns the old quarry property, said he is in final negotiations with tenants that wish to lease retail space from him at the proposed shopping center but he declined to reveal the names of the 12,000-square-foot retail store, the bank and restaurant, pending preliminary approval from the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners.
He also declined to reveal how much the shopping center development will cost to construct.
The Haverford Township Planning Commission approved a motion on May 26 recommending that the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners approve the preliminary land development plans for the shopping center, subject to a seven-page list of conditions from the township engineer, Planning Commission Chairman Joseph Russo said in a phone interview.
A PDF of the proposed plan accompanys this article, right below the pictures.
The Board of Commissioners will vote on whether to approve the preliminary land plans for the shopping center at a commission meeting on Monday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m.
The conditions on the list from the township engineer are nothing out of the ordinary, Russo said. The list includes conditions pertaining to issues such as drainage, traffic, obtaining erosion sediment control permits and meeting with the Shade Tree Commission, Russo said.
The developers agreed to the conditions but they have since asked to make a few changes to some of them, Russo said.
Crockett declined to specify to Patch which conditions he would like to see changed and how he would like them changed.
The Planning Commission will discuss whether to change some of the conditions when it meets on Thursday, June 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room at 2325 Darby Road, Russo said.
Hanlon-Widdop, Russo and Crockett said there has been some community opposition to the project from residents of Haverford and Upper Darby townships.
The shopping center would be located in Haverford Township but it would sit across the street from homes in Upper Darby Township since the development is on Township Line Road, which is the dividing line between the two townships.
“Some of the opposition we’ve heard is traffic … It will increase some,” if a shopping center is added, Russo said.
Russo said the developers have offered to install and pay for speed bumps in Upper Darby Township to address residents’ concerns.
Russo said most of the opposition he heard came from Upper Darby, but Crockett said he has also spent time with Haverford Township residents addressing their concerns about traffic.
Upper Darby Township Councilman Thomas Wagner said multiple Upper Darby Township officials have attended several public meetings, including the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners meeting this past Monday night, about the shopping center but he was asked to speak on the township’s behalf at the meetings, along with the mayor.
Wagner serves the third district of Upper Darby, which includes the residential neighborhood located across the street from the proposed shopping center.
Wagner said he wanted to thank Haverford Township’s public officials for being “very helpful and very accommodating of Upper Darby” in regards to the township’s concerns.
Traffic is the “primary issue” which Upper Darby officials and residents are concerned about in regards to the proposed shopping center, Wagner said.
Wagner said the area where the shopping center would be built is already very congested and busy, with long lines of traffic during the morning and evening rush hours, numerous car accidents occurring and a recent traffic fatality.
The development plans call for three entrances to the shopping center, all of them off of Township Line Road, Wagner said.
Township officials and residents fear traffic will increase if a shopping development is added and residents of Upper Darby Township who live on the narrow residential streets across the road from the shopping center will be adversely affected, Wagner said.
“We’re very concerned that there will be so-called cut-through traffic to get to the development, to get out of the development or to avoid the development,” Wagner said.
Increased traffic will also be a “serious problem” for people who drive through the area but do not live nearby, Wagner said. Wagner added the development plan calls for 900 parking spaces at the shopping center and that speaks to the expected traffic volume.
To help with the traffic, Wagner said the shopping center needs a connector road running behind the existing Kohl’s store and the proposed development out to Westchester Pike.
“Our position is they should not have that development without a connector road,” Wagner told Patch.
During Monday night's meeting, Haverford Township President and 9th Ward Commissioner William F. Wechsler said that he and his fellow commissioners would want to have a connector road as well.
Crockett said he has been in negotiations for the past six months with the owner of the Kohl’s property site, Kimco Realty, in order to gain Kimco’s approval for the connector road.
Wagner said there are other concerns about the development.
Possible light and noise pollution from the shopping center are of “great concern” to residents who live across the street, Wagner said.
To address the light pollution concern, the developers agreed to lower the outdoor light fixtures to Haverford Township’s maximum height standard for lighting, which is 20 feet, Wagner and Crockett said. The initial plans called for light fixtures standing about 30 feet high, Wagner and Crockett added.
Upper Darby Township officials and residents are also worried about storm water management.
Wagner said there are concerns that storm water from the development will flow down the side streets of Upper Darby and possibly overwhelm the storm water and sewer drains.
Crockett said he and his development partner, Mallory, are going to do what their engineer and the Haverford Township engineer agreed should be done in regards to storm water management. Crockett did not elaborate on what the agreement is.
Upper Darby’s final concern is the gas station at the Giant grocery store. Wagner said the area does not need another gas station and adding one will “increase traffic significantly.”
Crockett said the gas station will have “screening,” which will consist of a hedge area and there will be additional landscaping throughout the shopping center.
The plan requires that the shopping center have 320 trees, but Crockett said he and his development partner have agreed to put in more than 600 trees.
Wagner said he has asked publically several times why the project needs a gas station but has not received an answer.
When Wagner’s question was posed to Crockett by Patch, Crockett said that when a new Giant grocery store is built, Giant wants to have a gas station with it.
“They sell gas at a discount,” Crockett said. “It’s all to deliver something better, cheaper, for the customer.”
Crockett said he is trying to respond to the community’s concerns about the project while also trying to keep business in mind so that tenants at the proposed shopping center would be able to operate.
Wagner said Upper Darby is not entirely opposed to the shopping center and realizes that it would bring new jobs and “nice stores” to the area.
“We in Upper Darby understand that this development is not all bad,” Wagner said.
However, Upper Darby feels that the development has to accommodate and fit with the community, and if the concerns cannot be addressed then the development should not proceed, Wagner stated.
The proposed shopping center would be built on an old quarry site which the Quarry Center LLC purchased in 1983 from the quarry owner, Vincent DeFrancesco, who also was a past president of the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners, Crockett said.
The quarry had closed down 10 years earlier in 1973, after Hurricane Agnes blew out the bed of a stream that ran along the quarry, flooding it, Crockett said.