Sanatoga Green vote delayed
LOWER POTTSGROVE » Disagreement over the township’s desire to ensure the commercial portions of a $146 million development project near the Limerick Outlets get built as well, as the housing, resulted in a delay of at least two weeks in the project receiving preliminary approvals July 6.
Sanatoga Green, as the project is called, proposes a 60,000 square-foot medical building, a 108-room hotel, 17 multi-family apartment buildings with a total of 343 units and 147 townhomes, all on about 50 acres off Evergreen Road opposite the Costco.
It has been making its way through the approval process ever since 2014, when the township commissioners agreed to change the zoning to “gateway mixed use” at the developers’ suggestion.
The developers, Castle Caldecott LLC, were at the meeting in force, with engineers and lawyers, for what they obviously expected to be the preliminary site approval vote by the commissioners. But that did not happen. Instead, Township Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. and Frank Bartle, the developers’ attorney, squabbled about details of the resolution and who sent what email and when.
Small detail like whether water basins would be porous or not, “should not be the kind of thing that holds up a project of this scope,” Bartle said at one point.
At another point, the commissioners voted unanimously to ta-
ble the matter, which procedurally puts an end to discussion, but then, listened to another 30 minutes of comments and explanation from Bartle and developers Ted Drauschak and Ken Brier.
Central to the failure to act is the commissioners desire for some sort of guarantee or leverage that would ensure that the commercial portion of the project gets built.
Garner and commissioners’ Chairman Bruce Foltz both said repeatedly that they did not want to see Sanatoga Green go the way of other mixed-use developments in nearby towns, where the residential portion gets built first, and the commercial never comes to pass.
Drauschak has told the commissioners that Castle Caldecott is under contract with a builder for the townhouses — a builder who is getting impatient for approvals from the township.
But Drauschak and Bartle argued that such a restriction by which one of two commercial portions is built next — “phasing” is the term the township uses — would restrict the project’s financing, making it less likely it would get built, and ignores the fact that the developers have no control over when they find and sign a commercial tenant.
“There are no guarantees,” Drauschak said bluntly.
However, Brier may have provided the potential bridge in the gap between the two positions when he informed the commissioners that he had a signed addendum from a health organization interested in opening a medical facility there — although the financial aspects remain to be negotiated.
That is a document in which Commissioners Vice President Stephen Klotz expressed great interest and he will likely get an opportunity to examine soon.
Eventually, the two sides agreed to have developers meet with township staff again — but this time Foltz and Klotz will be present — to try to get to the point where a vote can be taken at the July 20 meeting.