Re­zon­ing hear­ing to con­tinue

Dis­cus­sion on re­quest for the Wal­ter fam­ily’s prop­erty is sched­uled to re­sume on Jan. 25

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Dan Sokil dsokil@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @dan­sokil on Twit­ter

The con­ver­sa­tion con­tin­ued Wed­nes­day night on plans to re­zone a prop­erty on Cow­path Road in Hat­field from in­dus­trial to res­i­den­tial — and that con­ver­sa­tion will con­tinue for at least two more weeks.

“Tonight you’ll, for lack of a better term, stand down, and do your pre­sen­ta­tion at the next meet­ing, on Jan. 25,” com­mis­sion­ers Pres­i­dent Tom Zipfel said.

Last month, a team of con­sul­tants pre­sented plans on be­half of the Wal­ter fam­ily, who have been seek­ing a change since sum­mer of their prop­erty’s zon­ing to al­low con­struc­tion of 64 homes on a 35-acre par­cel at Cow­path and Town­ship Line roads.

At­tor­ney Robert McNelly rep­re­sented neigh­bors near the site in op­pos­ing the re­zon­ing, and said he, land plan­ner Creigh Ra­henkamp and about half a dozen res­i­dents had prepared com­ments based on the tes­ti­mony from last month. They were prepared to tes­tify Wed­nes­day, McNelly said, un­til the ex­perts speak­ing in fa­vor of the re­zon­ing added new tes­ti­mony and doc­u­ments.

“It might make more sense, if we’re go­ing to do it again, for (Ra­henkamp) to put to­gether a com­plete plan. He can do it at the same time, twice or once,” McNelly said.

Last month, at­tor­ney Frank Bar­tle led a team of con­sul­tants in nearly two hours of tes­ti­mony de­scrib­ing the pro­posed plans, the

zon­ing of the prop­erty, the zon­ing in the sur­round­ing area, and the Wal­ter fam­ily’s his­tory of split­ting off other parcels for sep­a­rate sales and ask­ing for the zon­ing to be changed from in­dus­trial to res­i­den­tial.

Bar­tle and land plan­ner John Kennedy up­dated that tes­ti­mony Wed­nes­day with sev­eral new ex­hibits, in­clud­ing a map Kennedy prepared that showed the Wal­ter prop­erty, an ad­ja­cent par­cel cur­rently zoned in­dus­trial, and acres of sur­round­ing parcels all zoned or used for res­i­den­tial pur­poses. That map, Kennedy said, was made to show that the res­i­den­tial zon­ing would not be out of place, and puts in col­orized form his tes­ti­mony from De­cem­ber.

“Last time, I made the rep­re­sen­ta­tion to the board that this was es­sen­tially the ‘hole in the dough­nut.’ This was the plan that was col­orized to present that,” Kennedy said, point­ing to the Wal­ter prop­erty, which was sur­rounded by a sea of yel­low-col­ored res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties.

Kennedy and Bar­tle showed the zon­ing of that par­cel on sev­eral his­tor­i­cal town­ship zon­ing maps, which Kennedy said he re­ceived in re­sponse to a right-to-know re­quest af­ter

the De­cem­ber hear­ing. Maps from 1950, 1976 and 1989 show pro­gres­sively more in­dus­trial parcels being split up into res­i­den­tial uses, in­clud­ing a mo­bile home de­vel­op­ment lo­cated on Cow­path just next to the Wal­ter par­cel.

“At each stage, we’re see­ing a num­ber of prop­er­ties that are con­verted from light in­dus­trial to some­thing else. This is sim­ply a graphic de­pic­tion of that fact,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy and Bar­tle said since the De­cem­ber hear­ing, their pro­posed re­zone has been re­viewed by the town­ship and the Mont­gomery County plan­ning com­mis­sions, and both have given their ap­proval to the re­zon­ing re­quest.

“They pointed out that the zon­ing map amend­ment is in ac­cor­dance with the county’s com­pre­hen­sive plan, Montco 2040, which was just adopted in 2016, and they rec­om­mended the

re­zon­ing of the prop­erty,” Kennedy said.

He and Bar­tle also pre­sented a fis­cal im­pact anal­y­sis prepared by a third party and dated Jan. 3, 2017, which pur­ported to es­ti­mate the im­pact to Hat­field Town­ship and the North Penn School District of the pro­posed project. Adding the 64 new homes and based on mul­ti­plier fac­tors, the de­vel­op­ment would have a net pos­i­tive im­pact of roughly

$88,500 to the town­ship, but a net neg­a­tive im­pact of $426,000 to the school district, Kennedy said.

McNelly said he and his plan­ner would need time to re­view the color-coded map to see if it cor­re­sponded with tax map parcels, and said he would pre­fer the fi­nan­cial im­pact state­ment be covered by tes­ti­mony from its au­thor, not by Kennedy and Bar­tle, who read ex­cerpts.

“My job isn’t to con­vince you to do some­thing, be­cause you’re being asked by the ap­pli­cant to do some­thing,” McNelly said, re­fer­ring to the re­quest to re­zone. “The ap­pli­cant has no right to force you to do some­thing. I’m just say­ing what I think is wrong with their re­quest to re­zone.”

Based on talks ahead of the start of the hear­ing last month, McNelly and Bar­tle said both sides had reached an agree­ment that both would be al­lowed to re­spond to any tes­ti­mony, with enough time to pre­pare re­sponses. Bar­tle said be­cause of the hol­i­day sea­son be­tween the De­cem­ber hear­ing and to­day, the 30day pe­riod in their in­for­mal agree­ment could not be met this time, but could be go­ing ahead.

“We have ab­so­lutely no ob­jec­tion to af­ford­ing him the op­por­tu­nity that we said we would, and al­low­ing him the op­por­tu­nity of re­view­ing that doc­u­ment,” Bar­tle said.

No citizens of­fered pub­lic com­ment on the re­zone re­quest dur­ing Wed­nes­day night’s meet­ing, and Zipfel joked that was be­cause “ev­ery­one wants to wait un­til the 25th.”

The com­mis­sion­ers next meet at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing, 1950 School Road. For more in­for­ma­tion or meet­ing agen­das and ma­te­ri­als visit www.Hat­field­Town­ship.org or fol­low @Hat­fieldPA on Twit­ter.

SUBMITTED REN­DER­ING

This is a con­cept plan for a pro­posed com­plex of 64 sin­gle-fam­ily homes to be built on a 35-acre par­cel on Cow­path Road at Town­ship Line Road, as pre­sented to Hat­field Town­ship Board of Com­mis­sion­ers on Dec. 7, 2016. The site plan is pro­vided courtesy of Hat­field Town­ship and was de­vel­oped by Kennedy & As­so­ci­ates.

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