The Super Wawa on the westbound lane of Route 70 in Cherry Hill.

A Super Wawa or similar project that combines gasoline stations with food preparation stores probably will never be built in Cherry Hill again, according to a new ordinance that late last year amended the Township's zoning code.

Even building a new gasoline station could be a stretch in the Township because of the new zoning regulations.

"I believe this is a win for the residents of Cherry Hill," said community advocate Martha Wright, who lives on Munn Lane. "I believe this is a step toward reducing invasive commercial encroachment upon established neighborhoods."

Wright was a leader in the community's 18-month heated battle against plans to build a Super Wawa at the corner of the Barclay Farm Shopping Center on Route 70, near the entrance to the Barclay Farm neighborhood. The owner of the shopping center on December 21 pulled its application to the Township.

While that Wawa war was being waged – with some Township officials expressing their own concerns about the Barclay Farm plan – the Township Council began to consider adopting a model ordinance from the state that encourages electric vehicle charging spaces.

The Township customized that model ordinance, adding sections addressing gasoline fueling stations. Council voted unanimously to adopt it in late September.

The ordinance did two things: it adopted the state's electric vehicle ordinance into the zoning code and amended the zoning code relating to gasoline station uses.

Two sections deep in the electric-vehicle ordinance radically change zoning in the Township as it applies to both standalone gasoline stations and those with convenience stores that sell prepared foods.

"Retail food facilities or fast-food services shall not be permitted on the same lot or parcel as a gasoline service station or on an adjoining lot or parcel in conjunction with a gasoline service station," the ordinance reads.

That would ban Super Wawas within town borders and exclude combos such as Royal Farms, Dunkin' Donuts or Sheetz that sell both prepared foods and gasoline. It does not prohibit Wawa, or other companies, from proposing standalone stores without gasoline.

Another section of the local zoning law requires any plans for a new gasoline station in the Township to be built on a lot of at least one acre. That gasoline station, the ordinance notes, "shall be the sole principal use permitted on the lot or parcel."

"We're well-saturated with the gasoline service station uses," Cosmas Diamantis, the Township community development director, told 70and73.com in an interview.

Even redeveloping a former gasoline station for new uses can present environmental challenges, he said. Diamantis said an example is the shuttered gas station that stands empty and undeveloped at Route 70 and Mercer Street.

Wright told 70and73.com that she drove the streets of the Township and counted 27 gasoline stations plus the fueling facility at the Costco store in the Garden State Park shopping center on Route 70.

"There's enough gas. Nobody is struggling for gasoline," she said.

If a separate convenience store is proposed with a gasoline station, detailed information would need to go to the appropriate board to confirm that no food preparation would go on at the site and that it is an accessory to the sole principal use of selling gasoline, Diamantis explained.

The food-preparation and gasoline combos tend to be a more intense use, attracting more traffic than other uses.

"It doesn't mean you can't have one," he said of the food and fuel combos. "It just means that if you want one, you're going to have to get the appropriate approval."

Depending on the request, the Township Zoning Board of Adjustment or Planning Board could grant the approval and, in essence, override the zoning law. And laws and regulations always can be challenged in court.

But, after the storm of protest by residents after the Barclay Farm Super Wawa proposal, would board members be convinced enough of the positive impacts to the community of a new Super Wawa, for example, to persuade them to grant the developer a use variance?

Diamantis said that if the Barclay Farm Super Wawa plan, as proposed, were filed after the new ordinance it likely would have required approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment because it would not have met one or more of the required zoning conditions.

The site was on just over two acres, so it would appear to meet the one-acre restriction. However, because it offered both prepared food and gasoline it would have required Township approval to get around the zoning ordinance.

Community advocate Wright said she would find it hard to imagine new food and gas combos in town unless a plan was "uniquely suited to the site."

"Even on the best day, this is a conditional use, not a permitted use," Wright said, crediting Township Council with adopting the ordinance.

Council members listened to constituents, she said. "I think this is very progressive."