Neighbors of planned West Chester Kroger voice concerns



WEST CHESTER TWP. — A new giant Kroger Marketplace destined for the corner of Cox and Tylersville roads is one step closer to becoming a reality now that trustees have conducted a public hearing to hear concerns from their constituents.

Traffic, dumpster and delivery noise, bright lights, drainage and at least a couple years of construction headaches for neighbors were among the chief concerns voiced recently. The giant grocer needs the township’s consent on a zoning map amendment to proceed with plans to build a 122,910-square-foot Kroger store and fuel center and 24,000 square-feet of new retail shops — in two buildings — along Tylersville Road.

The new store will feature 16 online shopping pick-up spaces and two drive-thru pharmacy lanes. It will be done in the most current color scheme of shades of gray with blue accents.

Officials told the Journal-News previously there will be some new-to-market establishments and “a nice line-up of dining, restaurants, service providers and other daily needs operators,” in the out lot buildings.

The majority of the naysayers live directly behind the development on Spring Garden Court. As Trustee Ann Becker put it, “so we’re moving it a whole Kroger closer to the houses.”

“So how does one determine that’s enough screening for stopping of the noise from the loading, unloading, beeping, trash compacting. How do you know that’s enough, that that’s enough trees, bushes, dirt, walls,” she asked. “Is there city planner science.”

There is a whole section of unplanned land between the store and the neighborhood which provides some distance. Kroger officials say the loading dock is below grade level with a wall to diffuse truck noise and landscaping will provide a good buffer. They say they have gone well above what is required.

Neighbor Tim Schuermann said he understands the new store is necessary, but he and many of his neighbors are worried the new development will exacerbate an existing issue with nearby Chesterwood Village.

“A lot of us were sold a bill of goods when Chesterwood opened their new (addition) — it’s a retirement home — there’s going to be no noise, come and sleep there at 2 a.m. when they’re picking up the dumpsters and dropping them every night,” he said. “When the windows are open it’s terrible, the same thing is going to happen here.”

Another neighbor also mentioned Chesterwood saying they planted beautiful trees as a buffer but many of them died, which defeated the purpose. Becker said the residents just need to contact the township development department if the Kroger landscaping begins to fail and they’ll make sure the problem is fixed.

Traffic is a major concern for many, not just those who live there. Plans call for adding lanes on Cox Road and three entrance points, with the main one in the center being signalized. During peak hours, bottlenecks occur at the intersection of Cox and Kingsgate and township officials say age-old discussions about a new roundabout there will likely become a reality with the new Kroger development.

Others worried about all the disruption, dirt, dust and noise during construction. Kroger officials said there will not be any night-time construction and all construction vehicles will travel through a designated entrance. They require street sweeping and other controls to minimize dust and dirt. There will be a sign posted with contact information for complaints.

Ann McBride, who was representing Kroger and its landlord Regency Centers at the public hearing, said while the Marketplace stores are very popular, they aren’t a regional draw that will snarl traffic.

“They probably will draw some additional customers from outside the base that they serve now,” she said. “But really a Kroger is a neighborhood use, it’s something you go to once a week or three times a week. People aren’t going to be driving 20 miles to hit this Kroger Marketplace.”

The trustees are scheduled to give final approval of the plan within the next few weeks.

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