Bryn Mawr is about to get more Aqua.
Lower Merion Township officials gave the first green light for the latest expansion of the Aqua Pennsylvania facility in the center of Bryn Mawr.
Wednesday night at a building and planning committee meeting, the committee approved the tentative sketch plan that would demolish two existing houses to make room for a new two-story building. The new structure along Elliott Avenue will be 15,284 gross square feet with a footprint of 7,642 square feet.
The existing 5.59-acre campus where Aqua Pennsylvania currently sits is located near the intersection of Lancaster and Elliott avenues. The one property it does not own is the Starbucks on the corner of Lancaster and Elliott avenues.
The buildings to be demolished are two former houses located at 9 and 11 Elliott Ave. Besides the Starbucks, the only other properties not owned by Aqua on Elliott Avenue between Lancaster and Old Lancaster avenues are three additional houses at the far end of the street.
Chris Leswing, director of building and planning for Lower Merion, outlined the plans.
“These [two] properties will be absorbed into the campus, demolished, and a new building consistent with the architecture and campus plan of Aqua will be constructed,” Leswing said.
Along with the new building, the parking lot will also be expanded and reconfigured, he said. The parking lot to be reconfigured will be the small lot that sits along Elliott Avenue between the new construction and the Starbucks on the corner. Leswing said they will still need to find two additional parking spaces to comply with township codes.
The project will also bring streetscape improvements to Elliott Avenue.
According to Leswing, Elliott Avenue currently has what he described as an uncomfortable sidewalk.
“It’s a terrible transition to Lancaster Avenue from the residential district,” Leswing said. “What the Bryn Mawr Village Zoning requires is a very wide sidewalk. So that 4-foot sidewalk will be replaced by an 11-foot sidewalk. That is a major plus to the community as part of this redevelopment.”
Leswing said the new parking lot would be screened by what he described as a very attractive low wall with landscaping, stormwater management, decorative pavers and street trees.
Although she supported Aqua’s plan, Wynnewood Commissioner Liz Rogan said she wasn’t happy with the demolition of the two old houses.
“They’re beautiful houses,” Rogan said. “I know they are nice and old and I’m happy for Aqua to be here and I don’t what them to not have a successful campus, but I don’t like that those houses are coming down.”
Rogan also asked about an old tree that remains in the main parking lot off Lancaster Avenue. She went on to ask why in the map Aqua submitted did it have a red circle around it.
“I would say that if that isn’t paved, now it shouldn’t be done,” Rogan said.
Leswing said that gives them direction and the township staff would work with them to preserve the tree.
As far as a wooded area that sits to the side and rear of the campus, Leswing said they are not any plans for that site.
The Lower Merion Planning Commission also recommended the approval of the tentative sketch plan at its April 2 meeting. The full board is expected to approve the tentative sketch plan at its board meeting April 18.
This latest approval comes after Lower Merion last year approved the construction of a 225-square-foot utility building and the installation of three transformers on its property.
Written by Richard Ilgenfritz; Originally published in Main Line Times< Return to Noteworthy