Residents oppose fourth Wawa in Fairfield

Credit: PROVIDED

Credit: PROVIDED

More than 80 Fairfield residents attended Fairfield City Council’s meeting July 8 to speak their minds about a fourth Wawa convenience store and gas station coming to their city.

Ohio is one year away from getting its first Wawa, and Fairfield is trying to keep up. So far, plans for three locations for the convenience store and gas station in Fairfield have been approved by the Council.

The newest proposal is for a 4.6-acre lot on the corner of Pleasant Avenue and John Gray Road that is part of a larger undeveloped 24.1-acre plot of land. The land is currently zoned as part of a neighborhood business district that does not permit gas stations. Fairfield City Council and planning commission would have to approve a planned unit development to change the zoning for the Wawa to be built.

Those who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting brought concerns about flooding, traffic, crime and light pollution to the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed business.

John Burton, an officer with the Colerain Police Department said other gas stations in his jurisdiction have influenced crime in the surrounding area.

“We’re going to put a 24/7 gas station that’s probably the nicest one around just 100 yards from people with kids,” Burton said. “Criminals don’t just go in, they tend to park on the side street or have somebody drop them off and now people are living just three doors down at Carousel Circle.”

The store would have parking surrounding a main building and feature eight double-sided gas pumps. The development is a $7.5 million investment by Wawa and would create 40 jobs.

Jonathan Wocher, a developer with STNL Development said the location was chosen because it’s “prime real estate” in Fairfield and two miles away from Interstate 275. Wocher said the company would buy the whole 24.1-acre lot and donate the remaining 19.5-acres unused from the development. This would allow the city to decide what goes in the rest of the lot.

“We think this is an opportunity here to develop that corner for a use that is maybe a little more intense than the city envisioned,” Wocher said. “But part of the trade-off would be that we’re going to protect 70% of the land and give [council] control of it.”

The property has been owned by John and Paul McGilliard and has been for sale for a while, according to Mayor Mitch Rhodus. The land hasn’t been developed in the past due to streams, elevation changes and utility lines. With its current zoning, the area could be turned into a restaurant, gym or salon.

Current plans have the developer leveling off the corner and keeping a 116-foot buffer of trees between the start of the property and property lines of houses in Carousel Circle, the closest neighborhood to the lot. Councilmember Tim Meyers and multiple audience members had concerns about light shining from Wawa into the houses of Carousel Circle, especially during the winter.

Along with light pollution, traffic was a key issue with local residents.

The location would have a right-in and right-out-only entrance and exit on Pleasant Avenue with a full entrance on John Gray Road that lines up with the Walgreens entrance. Traffic studies done by the city and developer show that traffic in the area will be worse in the morning but stay relatively the same in the afternoon.

Gary Webb, a resident of Carousel Circle said he fixes tire marks in his yard from people turning around to avoid traffic from Walgreens, and the addition of Wawa would make it worse.

There are no current dates set for development. Fairfield residents can make public comments at Fairfield’s Planning Commission meeting at 6 p.m. July 10.

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