emotionally-charged residents of the area went to a meeting of
the Fox Point Association on Oct. 15 to hear about the company's
plans and vent their displeasure. They cited anticipated
problems from traffic, rowdyism, crime and trash as reasons for
Cushing, real estate manager in 7-Eleven's Mid-Atlantic
division, said the company wants s 3,000-square foot store
fronted by six double-sided gasoline pumps at the intersection
of Philadelphia Pike, Marsh Road and Lore Avenue, midway up
Penny Hill. It would be owned and leased from Charles Muchnick,
a Pennsylvania resident who has an option to buy the property,
and franchised to operate around the clock. No franchisee has
been selected nor will be until the store is under
construction, Cushing said.
property is zoned commercial and apparently meets other
requirements of the county's Unified Development Code, which
would seem to preclude successful blockage of the project. As
yet, no development plan has been submitted to the Department of
Land Use for approval.
said he agreed to present a conceptual proposal at the umbrella
civic association's meeting in hopes of obtaining "community
input" to incorporate into the ultimate plan. The only
suggestion he got was to erect a high steel fence around the
site. He said it would be extensively landscaped and buffered
from the adjacent residential area.
the meeting that he "heard what you are saying," but described
the objections as "not unlike the comments I hear every time I
go to a public hearing" on proposals to put up a new store. The
company, he said, added about 140 stores, nationwide, to the
chain last year and expects to put up a similar number this
want to do is to develop a commercial property on a state
highway." he said.
After his presentation and a raucous
question-and-answer session, state Senator Harris McDowell told
the meeting that he had been informed by Secretary of
Transportation Nathan Hayward that
7-Eleven's plans "are
not acceptable at this point." Hayward also promised that "there
will be no bending of rules in favor of developing this
property," McDowell said. Delaware Department of Transportation
approval is required during county review of the technical
aspects of a development plan, but its stance has to be based on
legitimate traffic considerations.
Cushing and 7-Eleven lawyer Pam
Scott said the company has had 'preliminary discussions' with
DelDOT and acknowledged that the initial ideas concerning
entrance onto and egress from the site are in for some revision.
The sketch plan they displayed showed two curb cuts from
Philadelphia Pike and one from Lore Avenue, a relatively narrow
house would be torn down to make room for the proposed
suggested that an abandoned gasoline service station on the
opposite side of Philadelphia Pike might provide an acceptable
alternate site. Cushing said the company had looked at but
rejected several other sites along the highway.
Stuart Watson, one of the organizers
of an ad-hoc opposition organization called Friends of Penny
Hill and Hillcrest, said the presence on the property of a house
believed to have been built in 1790 is an
"first line of defense." He noted that the county Historic
Review Board has an automatic nine-month moratorium on approving
a request for a demolition permit involving an old structure to
allow time for determining if it merits preservation.
Scott said earlier in the meeting
that the house is not on the National Register of Historic
Places nor, in her opinion, eligible for listing there.
Also on the property is a building
which long-time residents remember nostalgically as the original
Penny Hill Doughnut Shop and
former Penny Hill sub shop and original doughnut shop
later the Penny Hill Sub Shop.
The house, the shop and another
structure, which houses an equipment rental business, are slated
for demolition to make room for the 7-Eleven store, Cushing
Bellefonte Commissioner George Patterson said the Board of
Commissioners, that incorporated municipality's governing body,
had voted unanimously "to say no to 7-Eleven." At its closest
point, Bellefonte is about a quarter mile from the site.
not a done deal by any means," said Chris Koyste, president of
the Fox Point Association.
during the discussion were references to an existing 7-Eleven
store on Governor Printz Boulevard at Edgemoor, about a mile
away. Meeting attenders described it as poorly run and badly
maintained. There also is a 7-Eleven outlet about three miles
away in Claymont. Cushing said both are beyond the
three-quarters of a mile radius from which the company expects
to draw most of its customers.
Responding to a question about why the company wants to locate
in a predominantly residential neighborhood. he said, "That
is exactly what we look for; that is where our customers come
from." He said the proposed store is not intended to replace
either of the existing nearby outlets.
attenders said that, if the new store is built, they will
said the gasoline station-convenience store combination has
replaced the traditional stand-alone gasoline service station,
"which is disappearing from the landscape."
7-Eleven's operation is geared toward making its outlets compatible
with the areas in which they are located. Large tanker trucks
service them three or four times a week and a tractor trailer
brings non-perishable items once a week. Daily deliveries of
perishables are made with vans "that fit in one parking space,"
stores to produce profits for our stockholders. We studied this
area and we determined there is a market for our products," he
said. "There is no 'Plan B'. This [design] or some version of it
is what we intend to put here. ... If we receive the [necessary]
approvals we will go ahead."