Wawa took a step forward in building another location in Palm Beach County Thursday.
The zoning commission recommended approval of popular gas station and convenience store chain’s plan to build at Hypoluxo and High Ridge Roads, near Boynton Beach.
The recommendation came as residents in the area voiced strong opposition to the proposal. The zoning board chair said commissioners received about ten times more letters in opposition than support.
“There's a huge battle. We feel like its David and Goliath,” said Susie Walsh, who lives nine houses away from the proposed site.
She and her neighbors held signs in the zoning hearing Thursday with “Save our homes” written on them.
One after another residents rattled off concerns about traffic, the environment, noise, and lighting.
“High Ridge Road cannot handle any more traffic than it has. It's residential neighborhood and this would totally destroy the environment for us,” Walsh added.
Shannon Pretel drives through the intersection everyday with a car full of children. She fears a Wawa will attract drivers off I-95, adding more traffic to the road.
“Changing any kind of land use on the corner of Hypoluxo and High Ridge would be a travesty to our neighborhood and the people who travel these roads regularly,” Pretel said.
One man got so worked up security had to escort him out of the meeting. He lives behind the property on a street named Yellow Brick Road. He said Wawa will turn his property into the Nightmare on Elm Street.
About half the people in attendance spoke up saying Wawa is no nightmare. Many people wore shirts and buttons with “I heart Wawa” on them.
Supporters highlighted jobs the store will bring to the area, the charitable way the corporation gives back, and how it’s adjusted its plans to better suit the surroundings.
“Extreme, extensive landscaping is going on at this site and a 10ft wall in the back of the site will be used to quiet things down,” explained Brian Pomykacz with Wawa.
He went on to add Wawa reduced square footage at this site, and added more green space in its plans.
“All the concerns they raised here, we've heard before and addressed through our prototypes,” he said.
Thursday’s step is not the final approval for Wawa at Hypoluxo. The board of county commissioners have the ultimate say. It will hear the proposal on September 22.
Wawa is currently working on seven locations in Palm Beach County. Its goal is to have about 30 stores in the county.