LAKE PLACID — James Langford, assistant county engineer, placed an agenda item for the town council members to consider during its special meeting on Nov. 29. County Planner Jodene Thayer represented the engineer. She asked the council members for feedback of the county’s intent to request 15 feet of the proposed Wawa frontage right of way. The county wants the right of way dedicated to the county for future land use.
The right of way in question is on the frontage of the proposed Wawa location, or the old Bank of America building. In an email to Town Administrator Phil Williams, dated Nov. 27, Langford said Wawa has been asking county engineers questions about the site.
The right of way is considered a Rural Major Collector road by the county. A road with that classification should have a 100-foot right of way and the current right of way is only 70 feet.
During the Nov. 29 meeting, Thayer said she would not have put the item on the Town Council’s agenda.
“What is your opinion?” Thayer asked council members. “How do you feel about 15 feet of right of way, that, per the county regulations, is needed for Dal Hall Boulevard?
“Wawa Corporation has decided that’s where they would like to put their business,” Thayer said. “They usually come in with a site plan that is prepared well ahead of time. It’s the site plan they use in several other sites across America. That’s what we have here; they’re tailored on their generic site plan.
“It fits the parcel as it is right now,” she said.
The county would have to request the 15 feet of right of way from the Gate gas station on the south side of the intersection or from Wawa, which is eyeing the Bank of America property on the north side for its new location.
“If 15 feet is taken away for right of way, then Wawa has to go back to the drawing board and do a new drawing,” Thayer said.
The planner has not received any documents for the site plan process. The company has to comply with Florida Department of Transportation and the county’s transportation concurrence before it can even apply to the county with the site plans.
Town Attorney Bert Harris III felt it was premature for the council to decide in favor or against the right of way until a traffic study was done.
Councilwoman Debra Worley said she wanted to table the agenda item. She said the previous property that Wawa was looking into on Interlake Boulevard was smaller and was 80 feet wide so Wawa’s engineers should be able to figure it out. She doubted the owners of the Gate station would give up 15 feet of their property, especially if it helped the competition.
“We’re being asked to do something here,” Worley said. “I think it’s up to Wawa. We took all the hit on SunTrust Bank and it’s a smaller site than this one. I said it wouldn’t work and we said it wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t comply and then we got ‘we don’t want Wawa.’ We do want Wawa. We want Wawa in Lake Placid.”
Worley said Wawa might want to seek a different site because they are trying to fit a store onto a site that is too large for the property.
Councilman Ray Royce asked Thayer if the engineers could give a variance. Thayer said yes.
“My point is, at this stage in the game, I think our preference is that we want to make sure that the transportation is well taken care of; that all the tenants of the Lake Placid Regional Planning are adhered to and taken care, and that if Mr. Howerton and Mr. Langford in their infinite wisdom decide two months, three months from now that they can get 12 or 12 feet and that’s enough, and they want to give them a slight break then that’s within their purview,” Royce said.
Royce said there would need to be turn lanes eventually. He said Wawa could possibly change items in their plans or the engineering department could figure it out.
Councilman Greg Sapp said he wasn’t sure if turn lanes would ease any problems at the location. He said Dall Hall Boulevard is too narrow, especially toward Main Avenue that the advantage would not be significant.
The council reiterated the motion be tabled.
Thayer emphasized that Langford was not looking to have the council give any concessions to Wawa for their commercial site process saying “that’s not even on the table.”