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Developer: CVS Project Would Improve Traffic

Summit Realty wants to put a pharmacy at Belmont Avenue and Rock Hill Road.

Plans for a new CVS that is proposed to occupy the corner of Belmont Avenue and Rock Hill Road in Bala Cynwyd would actually improve the traffic situation at that intersection, representatives of Summit Realty said at a Lower Merion Building and Planning Committee meeting Wednesday night.

Summit Realty, which has returned with new plans for a drive-through CVS Pharmacy at the intersection after previous plans were denied last year, came before the Building and Planning Committee on Wednesday for a conditional use hearing and discussion of a tentative sketch plan for the site.

Renderings presented at the meeting by Assistant Township Planner Chris Leswing are included in the attached gallery.

The Plan

Plans for the site include the demolition of five buildings, including the gas station at 726 Belmont Avenue, described by several people at the meeting as an “eyesore.” A  13,112-square-foot CVS Pharmacy would be constructed, and Summit Realty would also construct a stormwater management system, and make traffic improvements at the Rock Hill Road and Belmont Avenue intersection.

The sketch plan includes:

  • 66 spaces for CVS parking
  • 18 spaces designated for Cynwyd Heritage Trail parking
  • A left-hand turn lane onto Rock Hill Road
  • Upgrades to the traffic light at the intersection
  • Full access to the other buildings, including Lee’s Hoagies, with a two-way driveway
  • A sidewalk that will continue from Lee’s Hoagies across in front of the new CVS and across township owned property, with a crosswalk to the Cynwyd Heritage Trail

Traffic Concerns

Most concerns about the CVS are from residents worried that the pharmacy will create more problems in an already congested area, said Commissioner Brian McGuire, who represents Bala Cynwyd and Merion Park.

However, traffic engineers have said the CVS and associated infrastructure changes will actually improve traffic, according to Leswing.

The plan calls for three access points:

  • Belmont Avenue: Cars can only make a right into the CVS from Belmont Avenue, and can only make a right onto Belmont Avenue from the CVS
  • Rock Hill Road: There will be two points of access. One point is a right-turn in, right-turn out driveway, with another full movement driveway

A traffic study was conducted at the surrounding intersections during peak hours, as required by PennDOT, said Jennifer Walsh, a traffic engineer presented by Summit Realty. The study met PennDOT and township requirements, she said.

Aesthetics

“The township wants to make this look like a real store and make it as interesting as possible; the applicant wants a branded building to sell things out of; we don’t think these two things are really at odds,” Leswing said.

The Rock Hill Road frontage, as seen in the gallery above, will include a significant amount of clear glass, coupled with a brick facade, awnings, and windows that could look back onto a wall rather than merchandise—in the same way that some stores have historical images reflected, Leswing said.

The plan includes significant screening so the drive-through lanes will not be as visible from the street.

Signage

In terms of signage, current regulations only permit lettering that is 12 inches in height, Leswing said—a size Commissioner Philip Rosenzweig called “non-functional.”

It's a case where the tendency to have more restrictive zoning just doesn't work, Township Planner Bob Duncan said of the signage.

“We know the signage is not good—it makes us feel good to hear that a number of you agree,” said Ross Weiss, representing Summit Realty. Weiss added that the realty company would be willing to work with the township on subsequent approvals for signage.

Stone vs. Brick

Board vice president Paul McElhaney said he would like to see the building with a stone facade rather than a brick facade, an opinion Commissioner Brian Gordon later agreed with, noting that the stone facade was more in keeping with the vision for the district.

Patch Reader October 12, 2012 at 05:00 PM
These computer-generated images and plans look nice and pleasing. But the reality is when these CVSs and RiteAid stores go in, they contribute to making a property and the street-scape look cheap, cheesy and sort of run down. I'd be impressed here if the township help the property owners to a higher than normal standard for keeping the parking lots clean and free of trash blowing around, putting some glass windows in the store, and making the store structure itself look aesthetically and architecturally pleasing. Is that too much to ask?
fed up October 12, 2012 at 09:15 PM
This is a total joke. Unless Belmont Ave from City Ave thru Green Lane is expanded to 3 lanes each way, this area will be impassable. It is horrible enough during rush hour now, not to account for the increased volume of cvs customers.
x October 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM
At present there is very little left turn traffic from Belmont Ave. onto Rock Hill Road. However when a car does want to make that turn, especially during heavy traffic periods, it creates a significant backup on Belmont. Unless a dedicated left turn lane on Belmont is added, the CVS can only make a bad situation _very_ much worse. P.S. an easier way to get rid of the eyesore is just to tear it down.

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