Zoning board approves signage for gas station

The Sunoco gas station at
routes 1 and 202 may be coming back to life. The property was purchased in
February and the Chadds Ford Zoning Hearing Board approved sign variances
during a June 23 hearing.

Approved by a 2-1 vote were
variances for eight signs, down one from the nine sought. The board also
approved use of the convenience store that stands on the site, but with no
expansion.

The board made no decision on
how the service bays would be used. New owner Maurice LoPiccolo said he would
use them for storage at first, but is looking to have someone—perhaps former
station owner Jack Heilman—do service work there.

LoPiccolo, who owns 16 other
Sunoco stations in the Philadelphia area, said he wasn’t sure when the station
would open.

The initial request was for
nine signs covering 292 square feet at six locations on the property. That’s an
increase of 4.8 percent beyond the previous 279 square feet of signage. Both
situations are nonconforming, which is why zoning approval was needed.

Architect Bob Linn testified
that the signs are “an integral part of any business” because they attract
customers and give proper advance notice so motorists can enter safely.

During the 90-minute
hearing—with the board going off record three times—zoning board Chairman Bob
Reardon commented on the request saying it was “unusual for an applicant to
come in with a request for nonconforming signage and not leave with something
smaller.”

“This feels like a defeat,”
Reardon said.

The board managed to turn that
around.

After questioning by member
Paul Koch, one of the signs planned for a light pole along the west side of the
property was removed from the application. This reduced the square footage by
18.75, bringing the total to less than what had previously been approved.

In addition to testimony and
dialogue dealing with signage, the convenient store and service bays, there was
also a brief discussion on the property again being used as a gas station.

Attorney Mike Lyons,
representing the applicant, forestalled any attempt to deny gas station use due
to abandonment. The station ceased operations in March of last year, but Lyons
said his client bought the site this year in February with every intention of
reopening as a gas station.

The site was “never abandoned,”
he said. “The tanks are still there… It’s an existing nonconforming use.”

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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