LIMERICK PA – A Costco Wholesale Corp. requirement to own the land on which its new warehouse store would be built within the O’Neill Properties Group “Gateway At Sanatoga” project, and its insistence on relocating a petroleum pipeline now buried beneath the land’s surface, are expected to receive attention this week from the Limerick (PA) Township Zoning Hearing Board.
The project, formerly known as “Sanatoga Springs,” is immediately adjacent to the Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township southeastern boundary line, and within the U.S. Route 422 interchange district at Sanatoga PA on which both townships have agreed to coordinate future planning and zoning efforts.
Limerick’s zoning board normally meets only on the fourth Wednesday of every month. But at its last meeting, on Oct. 28 (2009), Chairman Mark John said he expected his board’s decision on the Costco issues, which require zoning approval, possibly could be issued this week in advance of Thursday’s (Nov. 12, 2009) meeting of the Limerick Board of Supervisors.
The supervisors made an unusual move on behalf of Costco during the retailer’s Oct. 28 zoning hearing. They sent township Solicitor Joseph McGrory to both represent them and advocate for a Costco-favorable ruling from the zoners. McGrory’s appearance so surprised John that he made a special note to ensure it was entered into the hearing’s minutes as authorized by the supervisors.
“This is a project the township wants,” McGrory acknowledged. “The Board of Supervisors believes it would be beneficial, and we are here in support of zoning relief” for Costco, the attorney said.
Costco proposes to build a 140,000-square-foot open-to-the-public warehouse store, and an accompanying members-only gas station, on a portion of 65 acres presented as the first phase of the O’Neill development. The complex would sit just west of the Philadelphia Premium Outlets on West Lightcap Road, and would front Evergreen Road at the Sanatoga interchange entrance to 422’s eastbound lanes.
A pipeline owned by petroleum refiner Sunoco Inc. currently crosses a portion of the property.
O’Neill’s initial plans called for Costco to be part of a condominium ownership agreement for The Gateway At Sanatoga. The retailer now wants to own and be responsible for its property, according to Heidi Macomber, Costco regional director of development. The company also doesn’t want to accept a risk of problems with the pipeline, and so is insisting it be relocated. Technical matters to be decided by the zoning board primarily revolve around both issues.
The zoning decision takes on added urgency this week because Limerick supervisors, during their Thursday meeting, apparently want to decide on a request to grant “blanket cross-easements” that would subject Costco to requirements similar to those of other companies still participating in the condominium agreement. Supervisors can’t act, however, McGrory said, until the zoning board issues its rulings.
O’Neill is “basically on the same page” and in agreement with the supervisors’ plans, its attorney, also at the hearing, agreed.
During the hearing, zoning board member questions focused on a proposal by O’Neill engineers to move the 10-inch plastic pipeline from crossing the parking lot in front of Costco to a path that roughly follows the project property line and then reconnects to the original pipe near the interchange’s eastbound entrance. Civil engineer Tim Stout of Langan Engineering and Environmental Services testified the proposed changes would have “no adverse effect on traffic, safety, or the public health or welfare.”
The zoning board met briefly and privately following the Oct. 28 hearing, and then returned to have John announce it would be unable to make a ruling that night. It could, John added, have a decision by Tuesday (Nov. 10, 2009).
Related (to Sanatoga interchange development):
- Costco Approved Without Traffic Improvements (WhatsThe422.com)
- Sanatoga Gateway Endorsed By Limerick Planners (WhatsThe422.com)
- Sanatoga Project Faces Limerick Zoning Decisions
- Sanatoga Shopping Project On Limerick Zoning Agenda
- More Web Searches Seek ‘Sanatoga Springs’
- Board Approves Interchange Mapping Costs
- Sanatoga Springs Promotion In Flux
- Townships Agree To Interchange Planning
- Township Interviews For ‘Bigger Picture’
- Missing Walks Latest Bridge Complaint
- Trying, Trying Again At The Interchange
- Just One Speaker At Sanatoga Springs Hearing
- The Overlooked Users Of Sanatoga Springs
- County Suggests Cooperation On Sanatoga Springs
- Improving The Odds At The Interchange
- More About … Sanatoga Springs (No. 1 In A Series)
- Trial Balloon: An Inter-Municipal Agreement
- Lobbyists Court Lower Pottsgrove
- A New Arrival In “Sanatoga Springs”