Su­per­vi­sor ques­tions overde­vel­op­ment

Garner says ru­ral char­ac­ter of town­ship is be­ing lost as more hous­ing units are built

The Community Connection - - LOCAL NEWS - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @PottstownNews on Twitter

As the hous­ing re­ces­sion fades into mem­ory, long-dor­mant hous­ing projects are be­gin­ning to resur­face and at least one su­per­vi­sor is be­gin­ning to ques­tion what’s be­ing lost.

“I think peo­ple want to move to New Hanover for a rea­son, and I think it’s the ru­ral char­ac­ter,” Su­per­vi­sor Charles D. Garner Jr. said as the Aug. 28 board meet­ing came to a close.

“And I’m wor­ried that al­low­ing these ex­tremely high-den­sity hous­ing projects is mov­ing us away from that,” he said. “They will have im­pacts on traf­fic and park­ing is­sues and I thought peo­ple wanted to live here to get away from such things.”

Garner spoke af­ter the board gave unan­i­mous fi­nal site plan ap­proval to a 40-town­home project called the Ren­ninger Tract.

Lo­cated on 33 acres be­tween Mid­dle Creek and Dot­terer roads, the Gam­bone project has been in the works since 2012 and the ap­proval, which fol­lowed the rec­om­men­da­tion of the town­ship’s plan­ning com­mis­sion, rep­re­sents the fi­nal phase.

Ear­lier that evening, the su­per­vi­sors heard a plea from a dif­fer­ent de­vel­oper — with the same lawyer, Joseph Cle­ment — who wanted to down-size the orig­i­nal hous­ing pro­posal, but wanted pre­lim­i­nary site plan ap­proval that night.

Called “Trot­ter’s Gait,” the project is ap­proved for 54 town­houses on 13 acres off Dot­terer Road, but the de­vel­op­ers want to re­duce that to 29 sin­gle fam­ily homes.

Although the idea is sup­ported by both the plan­ning com­mis­sion and the town­ship su­per­vi­sors, both re­jected Cle­ment’s re­quest for an im­me­di­ate de­ci­sion.

Su­per­vi­sors’ Chair­man Phil Agliano said both boards feel the pro­posal as it stands has too many unan­swered ques­tions and needs some fine tun­ing be­fore pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval is granted.

The two projects were dis­cussed the same night the su­per­vi­sors heard from so­lic­i­tor An­drew Bel­lowoar about an ear­lier project, which not only fell vic­tim to the fi­nan­cial col­lapse, but so too did the bank pro­vid­ing the guar­an­tee for the com­ple­tion of the streets and other in­fra­struc­ture.

Bel­lowoar is now en­gaged in try­ing to se­cure the fund­ing from the Fed­eral De­posit In­sur­ance Cor­po­ra­tion.

Add this to con­sid­er­a­tion of the 761-unit Town Cen­ter project, re­vised plans for which are on the agenda for the Sept. 13 plan­ning com­mis­sion meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to Town­ship Man­ager Jaime Gwynn.

This 208-acre project, which calls for 760 new homes and a new su­per­mar­ket, stretch­ing from Route 663 west to Town­ship Line Road, has stirred traf­fic con­cerns among the of­fi­cials and res­i­dents of both neigh­bor­ing Dou­glass Town­ship, and the Pottstown Area Met­ro­pol­i­tan Re­gional Plan­ning Com­mit­tee.

One way res­i­dents can wrap their heads around the many projects is to check out the new town­ship web site where Gwynn went to the trou­ble of up­load­ing all re­cently ap­proved and ac­tive de­vel­op­ment projects in the town­ship for easy ac­cess.

And it is not just res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment which has the po­ten­tial to change the town­ship’s char­ac­ter.

The first-phase of the long-con­tested Gi­bral­tar Rock quarry project sub­mit­ted its fi­nal site plan for town­ship ap­proval last week, said Gwynn.

The plan for the first phase, which has been through nu­mer­ous le­gal chal­lenges, was given pre­lim­i­nary site plan ap­proval with a 3-2 vote in June of 2015.

Pre­lim­i­nary site plan ap­proval had first been rec­om­mended by the plan­ning com­mis­sion in Au­gust of 2012.

The quarry was first pro­posed in 2001.

In 2007, the town­ship’s zon­ing board of ap­peals granted the com­pany per­mis­sion to open the quarry on 163 acres bounded by Route 73, Hoff­mansville Road and Church Road, but with a num­ber of re­stric­tions to which the com­pany ob­jected.

As the Aug. 28 meet­ing wound up — a meet­ing in which Gwynn had de­scribed New Hanover as one of Mont­gomery County’s fastest grow­ing town­ships — Garner said the su­per­vi­sors need a uni­fied vi­sion for the town.

“We’re start­ing to look like the eastern part of the county and I have to say I’m not sure what this board’s vi­sion is for New Hanover, which is dis­ap­pear­ing piece by piece,” he said.

“We should not be kow­tow­ing to de­vel­op­ers just be­cause they need to make a dol­lar on their de­vel­op­ments,” said Garner. “I have to ques­tion why we al­lowed these de­vel­op­ments to risk this com­mu­nity’s char­ac­ter in­stead of pre­serv­ing it.”

EVAN BRANDT — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Although the New Hanover Town­ship su­per­vi­sors lauded the pro­posed re­duc­tion of the ap­proved 54-town­house project to 29 sin­gle-fam­ily homes on 13 acres off Dot­terer Road called Trot­ter’s Gait, they balked at the idea that the de­vel­op­ers should be granted pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval with so many unan­swered ques­tions.

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