Sanatoga Green vote de­layed

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

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.

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