error in question involves the color scheme of the building's
brick veneer. It came out red and white although the
county-approved plan called for it to be all red.
administrative hearing examiner Reed Macmillan did not rule on
the Wawa proposal, he accepted a recommendation by George
Haggerty, assistant general manager of the county Department of
Land Use, that Wawa be given a temporary certificate of
occupancy to allow it to open for business, as scheduled, on
Macmillan told Delaforum after the hearing on Aug. 25 that,
despite a significant amount of community interest in the latest
chapter of a long-running saga surrounding construction of the
store, he will issue a
report on his findings to only the
company and not make it available to the general public. That is
normal practice, he said.
Nevertheless, it was apparent that he was inclined to go along
with Wawa's agreement to take the matter before the Claymont
Design Review Advisory Committee. If the committee, which is
scheduled to meet next on Sept. 15, accepts a revised
landscaping plan for the property and the department's
professional staff concurs, the issue evidently will be resolved
without the county's insisting on taking its proverbial pound of
Equivalent to the classic Shakespearian allusion to a literal
interpretation of the law
It's not the
way it was supposed to be, The new Wawa convenience
store in Claymont has a two-color brick veneer, not
the all-red one that the county-approved plans
called for. Company officials admit the discrepancy,
but say it was an unintentional mistake.
would be an order to tear off the now
existing two-tone veneer and replace it.
said lawyer Wendie Stabler, would impose "an extreme hardship"
argued that it would hamper business for several weeks and pose
serious inconvenience, not to mention a danger from falling
bricks, on the store's staff and customers. She did not specify
how much that would cost, but indicated it would be a
Instead, she said, the Wawa is more than willing to "soften" the
appearance of the wall around the perimeter of the site and
further enhance the 'pedestrian plaza' at the corner of
Philadelphia Pike and Harvey Road.
would be willing to implement a revised landscape plan agreed
[upon] by the county and the community," she said.
Strictly speaking, the Design Review Advisory Committee does not
have jurisdiction over the Wawa project because it was started
long before 'hometown' zoning, which established the committee,
was enacted. It was agreed, however, that a committee meeting
would be an appropriate forum for trying to resolve the issue
because membership of the committee and those who regularly
attend and participate in its meeting overlap the organizations
involved in furthering economic development and physical
redevelopment of Claymont.
have a broad sense of community support to leave the bricks as
they are," Stabler said. She referred to, but did not present, a
petition signed by numerous area residents supporting that
Culver, who spoke for the land use department at the hearing,
said "there is nothing to prevent them from submitting a revised
plan, [but] there is no guarantee the county will approve that
Councilman John Cartier, who represents the area, did not take a
stand on the specific issue and appeared to agree to its
proposed resolution, but said that it is important to preserve
"the integrity of the planning process."
going to have a high amount of construction going on in
Claymont" and the community should be able to rely on developers
being held to approved plans, he said. "The record plan reflects
a promise; the record plan should be observed."
referred to a "letter opposing granting any relief" from Wawa's
having to follow the approved landscaping plan which he received
from George Lossť, president of the Claymont Community
Haggerty, on the other hand, presented a letter from Brett
Sadler, president of the Claymont Business Owners Association,
which declared that although that organization's executive
committee "find[s] it regrettable that a mistake was made, we
accept their explanation."
According to Stabler and Greg Harvey, Wawa's construction
projects manager, the mistake was the result of timing and
miscommunication. He said Lynch & Martinez, an architectural
firm, drew up a construction plan which failed to reflect a
last-minute change in the landscaping plan that had been
"insisted upon" by Wayne Merritt, the county planner assigned to
the project and to which the company had agreed.
change, Harvey testified, involved "just one sentence" on just
one of 35 sheets of architectural drawings which the department
approved. The company, he said, currently has 56 building
projects in various stages of planning and construction.
change called for the entire facade to be red brick veneer.
Instead, the architect relied on a standard Wawa design and
called for the lower five feet, seven inches of veneer to
be red brick and the rest to be 'silverstone', an off-white
Architect Oscar Martinez accepted responsibility for the mistake
and apologized for it during his testimony.
However, Stabler pointed out that the department accepted the
erroneous construction plan and issued a building permit.
Moreover, frequent visits to the site during construction by
county inspectors and planner Merritt failed to notice the
deviation from the approved landscaping plan until after the
building was completed, she said.
"Nobody in the company, nobody in the community and nobody in
the county caught it (the mistake)," she said.
that the Unified Development Code provides that the developer is
responsible for making sure that approved plans are followed,
Macmillan assessed a $200 fee against Wawa. He specified that
that was not a fine, but a fee charged whenever there is a
substantiated accusation that a violation had occurred.
Stabler further noted that construction of a Wawa outlet to
replace the former Brosius & Eliason store and lumber yard
involved four years of give-and-take with the community and a
considerable amount of negotiation and compromise.
worked tirelessly with the county and [community] organizations;
we want to be part of the community," she said.