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Rite Aid : Falls Twp.'s Vacant Acme Will Be Redeveloped, Residents Who Opposed Are Sued For $11 Million

11/27/2015 | 07:41am US/Eastern

The vacant Acme property in Falls Township will be redeveloped, but no thanks are given to a select group of residents which opposed the developer's original plans.

Buckingham Retail Properties, which sought to redevelop the corner of West Trenton Avenue and Pine Grove Road into a Wawa convenience store with 12 gas pumps, a drive thru restaurant and a Rite Aid pharmacy, have reportedly sued two residents, and the owners of the Plaza Shell (GK Automotive) and Village Mart (Rusk Properties) for $11.3 million. All those involved in the lawsuit had achieved party status during the company's conditional use hearings which began last year.

The developer, due to the enamor of public outcry over their plans and the excessive number of requested variances, was denied permission by the Falls Township zoning hearing board for the proposed development of the site. Buckingham has since redeveloped the plans for the site into two drive thru restaurants and one pharmacy.

Residents Win – Zoning Board Says No Wawa for West Trenton Ave.

According to GK Automotive owner Kevin Stillwell, the suit was filed last month and has been considered to be a SLAPP suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation. Language within the suit, according to Stillwell, blamed those who had party status for the reason the property wasn't developed as it was originally intended.

"They got preliminary approval on a new plan that doesn't have the Wawa, but they are still appealing the zoning hearing board decision in Doylestown so they aren't dropping that," he said.

Buckingham Retail Properties, which was granted preliminary land development on September 15 pending particular traffic conditions regarding PennDOT, was granted final land development by the Board of Supervisors just last week, pending PennDOT HOD permits.

While Attorney Tom Hecker noted that the originally planned pharmacy, Rite Aid, had terminated their lease agreement for the site, he had hopes that submitting a final plan to them would bring them back on board. While representatives from Buckingham have been marketing the site to potential leasers, no one has signed a lease for any of the buildings on the property, according to Hecker.

Hecker could not be reached for comment regarding the $11 million lawsuit reportedly brought on upon residents.

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