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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, November 03, 2016

No Sidewalks at Wawa Hit-and-Run on Schoenersville Road


I'm currently covering the trial of Royce Atkins for a few of the weekly Press papers. He's been charged with failure to stop and render assistance when the car he was driving struck and killed 9 year old Darious Condash, almost exactly one year ago. I have no intention of discussing the fatality itself, but want to talk about something else.

Sidewalks.

On Tuesday, after the trial was over for the day, I visited the WaWa at Schoenersville Road. which is where this tragedy occurred. I saw a little roadside memorial for Darious, including the football helmet he wore as an East Side football player.

What I also noticed is a complete absence of sidewalks, on either side of the street. There's a crosswalk about a quarter mile south from the WaWa, but without sidewalks leading up to it, it's totally useless  Noone is going to walk on uneven ground to get to a crosswalk.

Given that the WaWa is relatively new, why no sidewalks? The answer is that greedy developers get sidewalk waivers or deferrals because they want to maximize profit.

The Schoenersville Road WaWa is supposed to close for about a month in July for a $1 million facelift. Maybe the store should spend a few bucks on sidewalks and save a life.

24 comments:

Jim H said...

Agreed. A rare stupid move by Hanover Township-Norco. If I recall correctly, the east side of Schoenersville Rd is Hanover-Northampton and the west side is Hanover-Lehigh. Most of the properties in that stretch were redeveloped within the last 10-15 years and there certainly was an opportunity to require sidewalks. I believe only the strip center with the Starbucks in Hanover-Lehigh has a sidewalk. A guest in one of the hotels who wants to walk to get a bite to eat has to either walk in the grass or the road. I agree that the driver should have stopped, but in reality it was an accident, the guy should not be vilified. If he had stopped, all he could have done was call 911, the guy isn't a paramedic. The victim shares some responsibility for what happened, even though he was just a child.

Jamie Kelton said...

Reading your post, I have some questions about this Mr O'Hare, and perhaps you can answer them.

Is the WaWa on Schoenersville Road within the city limits of Allentown or Bethlehem, or is it located in unincorporated county land?

I know it's a built-up area and there are pedestrians that walk along Schoenersville Road. However, when companies or developers build, things like sidewalks are eliminated in order to cut costs if they aren't legally required. One would believe that if the property was inside of the city, the building ordinances would require sidewalks. The country more likely not.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have not vilified him.It is a tragedy, and a jury will decide his guilt. The law imposes an affirmative duty to stop and render aid. If a jury believes that Atkins never saw Darious,even as his skin was being ripped off his body as he went up a grill and onto the hood of Atkins' car, before being launched through the air, they will set him free. If a jury is willing to discount Atkin's inconsistent explanations, like hitting a deer on Steuben Rd, or his concealment of the car in his garage, they will let him go. That is their call. I agree that had Atkins stopped,he would never have been charged.

I think there should be sidewalks at the WaWa and on Schoenersville Rd.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jamie. There is no such thing as unincorporated county land. I believe the WaWa is in Hanover Tp-NC.Most of the zoning ordinances do require sidewalks and other infrastructure, even in suburban municipalities. But developers are always seeking waivers or deferrals, even in-city.

Ovem Lupo Commitere said...

Another nearby place needs sidewalks. Race Street, Hanover Twp-Lehigh Co. There are so many people walking along Race St from both directions to their jobs on Cascade. At 6:45 in the morning it is still dark, and these folks just trying to make a living, are walking along unlit roadway with no sidewalks, often in dark clothing. A tragedy waiting to happen. Its bad enough someone waiting on the grass during daylight hours was struck a few years ago by a driver, who I believe was distracted......

Bernie O'Hare said...

Point well made.

Anonymous said...

Sure, developers shoulder some blame here.

However, the majority of the blame rests on the Township planning commission. They say yes time and time again to the requested waivers and deferrals.






Anonymous said...

Sidewalks are usually required under SALDO (Subdivision and Land Development Ordinances) and not Zoning Ordinances (typically, anyway) and would have gone first to the Planning Commission and then to the Supervisors. Developers can request waivers from the SALDO, which is probably what happened here.

I'm not going to shoot any arrows at either Hanover-Lehigh or Hanover-Northampton. We have enough laws and ordinances going on to make a sane man crazy, but it would behoove municipalities that share major arteries as boundaries to try and make the SALDO and Zoning Ordinances coordinate in those areas which could help prevent these issues such as no sidewalks. With the development going on both sides of the road at different times, I am sure it is difficult to coordinate those issues, but maybe if Hanover-Northampton knew that there was going to be a strip mall developed across the street and that it's hotel occupants would be crossing the street for a nice cup of coffee, they may have required those improvements.

Anonymous said...

There are no sidewalks in Hanover township. its not the greedy developer its the local government that does not require a place for people to walk. Look at Bethlehem Township, heck your lucky to find curbs there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:46, I hate gaps at the end of a comment. Please don't do that again.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2+20, There are numerous sidewalks in both Townships. It is developers, not municipalities, who constantly seek deferrals or waivers.

Anonymous said...

You are right on. There's a regional walkway right at the site that should have connected to the store with a clearly marked crosswalk at a strategic location though the parking lot, I couldn't agree more that pedestrian safety appears to have been disregarded.

I could understand deferring sidewalks if there was nothing to connect to, but in this case, a pedestrian using a regional walking trail from adjacent developments has to cut through grass and landscaping then negotiate a busy traffic lane of a parking lot. A missed opportunity for sure.

Anonymous said...

Atkins was found guilty, and rightly so. That is an industrial area where sidewalks are not normally required. 99% of customers at WaWa or Sheetz drive there. It is unusual for a housing development to be squeezed into an industrial park. But that is where the child lived. Sidewalks are not the answer for WaWa. There should be pedestrian crosswalks if the township was really concerned about kids from the development crossing there.

Anonymous said...

Let's take into consideration what the area looked like when the WaWa was being built prior to its move from Schoenersville and Airport Roads. There was no adjacent strip mall, nor one across the street; no hotel, no Sheetz. The area was basically industrial park to the west, and office space to the east. Very little residential on the Han-Le-Co side of the street. At the time, sidewalks didn't make sense, because the prospect of foot traffic was highly unlikely.

Anonymous said...

Wawa is in Hanover Northampton County. The double yellow line separates Northampton from Lehigh county. The area at Ave C (stoke park rd) is the city of Bethlehem the end of the FlSmith property starts Hanover Lehigh. I have no idea why sidewalks are not present there ( I wonder if PennDot wouldn't allow them or if because of how the Wawa sits they weren't needed); however the intersection of Stoke Park/Ave C and Schonersville Rd is signalized for pedestrian traffic the crosswalk connects directly to a walking path that was installed when development first started 10 + years ago.

Bernie, you mention that the facelift to the wawa is to occur in July this already happened this past summer (sorry if I read that wrong).

This area can be crazy at times. People will illegally turn across Schonersville Rd to enter the Wawa at the entry that is used for traffic traveling towards airport rd. People will also make U-turns up at Stoke Park and High Point (High point connects to the WAWa)and go back down to the entrance that taffic going towards Ave C would use. Anything to save a couple of seconds I guess

Hank_Hill

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hank, You are right. It already happened there.

Anonymous said...

The one thing they did do was they cut through an earthen berm and connected the walkway with the wawa parking lot directly (over by the air pump). I assume this was done so people wouldn't have to walk around up to the next interestion (high point)

Hank_Hill

AuH20 said...

Recent years have seen a much greater cooperation between developers, municipalities, PennDOT, Lanta, etc. I hear the new Hamilton Crossings in Macungie (upper or lower) is a good example. Sidewalks, bus shelters, and other amenities are incorporated in the design from the start.

Anonymous said...

Wawa is in Hanover Township, Northampton County. The Starbucks, Dicky's BBQ, Moe's food stip center is in the City of Bethlehem.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks. You are correct.

Anonymous said...

Also, the entire area has very poor lighting. Hanover Township is also at fault.

Anonymous said...

Schoenersville Road is a state highway. Contact penndot.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Max nix. I know numerous state roads with sidewalks.

Bernie O'Hare said...

See, I know Pa. Dutch, so watch it now!