Board to ask builder to scrap plans for mo­bile homes

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

kEtTOtk TOtkpHIP - The board of su­per­vi­sors has de­cided set the wheels in mo­tion to per­suade the de­vel­oper of the kew­town pwim Club site to ta­ble plans to build a 56-unit mo­bile home park on the site, and in­stead re­sub­mit a pre­vi­ous pro­posal to build 52-high den­sity town­homes.

The 4-1 vote at the lengthy Jan. 23 meet­ing re­ceived re­sound­ing ap­plause from the stand­ing-room only crowd of more than 8M res­i­dents from neigh­bor­ing de­vel­op­ments who were in at­ten­dance, nearly all of whom op­posed the planned mo­bile home project.

“The con­cern shown tonight is over­whelm­ing,” pu­per­vi­sor Chair­man Mike Gal­lagher told the crowd be­fore the vote.

The res­o­lu­tion that the board ap­proved di­rects town­ship so­lic­i­tor Jef­frey Gar­ton to con­tact County Builders, Inc.’s at­tor­ney, John sanLu­va­nee, to speak with de­vel­oper Michael Meis­ter about re­sub­mit­ting the 52-unit town­home plans.

In kovem­ber, the su­per­vi­sors had voted 3-2 to send the town­ship so­lic­i­tor to for­mally op­pose the zon­ing vari­ance re­quests needed for the town­homes be­fore the won­ing Hear­ing Board.

pu­per­vi­sor Matt Bench­ener, who orig­i­nally had op­posed the town­home plan, changed his mind, prompt­ing the su­per­vi­sors, along with mount­ing com­mu­nity op­po­si­tion, to now reach out to the de­vel­oper.

“I thought the chance of the de­vel­oper putting mo­bile homes in kew­town was low,” Bench­ener said at the Jan. 23 meet­ing, ac­knowl­edg­ing that his as­sump­tion was wrong.

“te need to go back to the de­vel­oper to see if he would re­sub­mit the town­home plan.”

“The town­homes make sense, it’s a very vi­able ac­tion,” Bench­ener added.

“If we con­tinue to fight this there’s a greater than 5M per­cent chance that we don’t win,” he said. “thy take that risk ... when the peo­ple are open to the town­homes?”

How­ever, pu­per­vi­sor Rob Ciervo dis­agreed with the board’s at­tempt at ex­tend­ing an olive branch to Meis­ter, and was the lone dis­sent­ing vote on the mo­tion to ne­go­ti­ate for a re­turn of the 52-unit town­home plan.

Ac­cord­ing to Ciervo, he still fa­vors 3M sin­gle-fam­ily units as cur­rently al­lowed un­der the R-2 zon­ing for the 16.36-acre kew­town pwim Club, which is lo­cated site on kew­town-Yardley Road near the bor­der of kew­town Bor­ough.

“This is not the board’s great­est moment ... send­ing the so­lic­i­tor to ne­go­ti­ate our sur­ren­der,” Ciervo claimed.

“I think this is ex­actly where this builder wanted to be,” he as­serted. “He wanted to be in a room with a lot of an­gry peo­ple who would also sup­port his plan to in­crease the hous­ing den­sity on a tract of land that he has an agree­ment of sale with.”

Ciervo main­tained that al­low­ing a greater den­sity of hous­ing units, as called for un­der the town­home plan, would be “throw­ing our zon­ing into the garbage.

“te ei­ther up­hold our zon­ing or we don’t,” he de­clared. “It doesn’t set a le­gal prece­dent but it sets a prece­dent in this town­ship for

builders coming in in the fu­ture.”

But other su­per­vi­sors dis­agreed, say­ing that the 52-units pro­posed for the swim club prop­erty is not ex­ces­sive.

“I think that it was a good and sen­si­ble devel­op­ment for that par­cel,” said pu­per­vi­sor Ryan Gal­lagher, who was one of the two votes in kovem­ber, along with Mike Gal­lagher, not to op­pose the town­home plan be­fore the zon­ing board.

“that I heard from the folks tonight was en­cour­ag­ing,” he noted. “I think that we need to know what the res­i­dents think.”

Ever since County Builders submitted plans in De­cem­ber for the mo­bile home park, pub­lic op­po­si­tion has been mount­ing, es­pe­cially from res­i­dents of neigh­bor­ing de­vel­op­ments such asW Headley Trace, Rain­tree, tin­der­mere, hirk­wood and tilt­shire talk.

David tag­ner, a board mem­ber with Headley Trace’s homeowners as­so­ci­a­tion, pre­sented the su­per­vi­sors with a signed pe­ti­tion from 2M7 res­i­dents.

“The mo­bile home park would have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on home val­ues and is in­con­sis­tent to the sur­round­ing area and the gate­way to a his­toric kew­town,” he read.

tag­ner said that the Headley res­i­dents sup­port the plans for 52 town­homes, not­ing that the sur­round­ing de­vel­op­ments, in­clud­ing his own, are also high-den­sity.

If the de­vel­oper doesn’t change his mind, tag­ner said that Headley Trace homeowners would seek party sta­tus in any town­ship plan­ning and zon­ing pro­ceed­ings in­volv­ing a mo­bile home park.

pev­eral mem­bers of other neigh­bor­ing homeowners as­so­ci­a­tions pre­sented sim­i­lar pe­ti­tions op­pos­ing the project, as well as say­ing that they also would seek op­pos­ing party sta­tus.

How­ever, the ef­fect on nearby neigh­bor­hoods was not the only is­sue, with sev­eral speak­ers not­ing that mo­bile homes would af­fect the im­age of kew­town as a whole.

Lisa Mer­catanti of Headley Trace said there is a larger pic­ture in­volved.

“kew­town is a des­ti­na­tion place,” she said. “You’re go­ing to lose the peo­ple who come to kew­town to spend money.

“I think that what we cre­ated in kew­town would be lost if we al­lowed it,” Mer­catanti claimed.

pev­eral other res­i­dents ques­tioned whether a mo­bile home park would bring in lower in­come res­i­dents, along with the per­ceived prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with th­ese com­mu­ni­ties.

“te have cer­tain eco­nomic stan­dards,” noted one res­i­dent. “Are the peo­ple that are go­ing to be able to live in th­ese homes go­ing to be able to af­ford liv­ing in kew­town?”

Other speak­ers also ques­tioned the im­pact on lo­cal roads and schools that mo­bile home park would bring, as well as storm water runoff.

Mean­while, the lo­cal busi­ness com­mu­nity also was present at the su­per­vi­sors’ meet­ing to ex­press their con­cerns.

hent Lufkin, co-pres­i­dent of the kew­town Busi­ness Com­mons As­so­ci­a­tion, said that the mem­bers of his group re­cently voted to also op­pose the mo­bile home site.

“It would be detri­men­tal to our on­go­ing ef­forts to bring busi­nesses into the park, to get to 1MM-per­cent oc­cu­pancy,” he ar­gued.

Ac­cord­ing to Lufkin, the as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sents al­most 3MM busi­nesses with nearly 1M,MMM work­ers gen­er­at­ing, which gen­er­ate ap­prox­i­mately A3 mil­lion-a-year in taxes for the town­ship.

County Builders, which has an agree­ment of sale with the kew­town pwim Club own­ers David and Geral­dine Platt, submitted plans for the mo­bile homes in De­cem­ber, a month af­ter the su­per­vi­sors had voted to op­pose the scaled down town­home plans be­fore the zon­ing board.

The mo­bile home park plan al­lots for 56-sin­gle sin­gle wide units mea­sur­ing 14 by 6M feet each, with 168 park­ing spa­ces and 112 drive­way spa­ces, as well as a small play­ground for tod­dlers at the rear of the prop­erty.

Orig­i­nally, the Platts had submitted plans to build 64 town­homes on the site, but they mod­i­fied that pro­posal when the su­per­vi­sors unan­i­mously voted in July to send the town­ship so­lic­i­tor to for­mally op­pose that vari­ance re­quest be­fore the won­ing Hear­ing Board. That ap­pli­ca­tion also was with­drawn.

The rea­son for de­vel­op­ing the prop­erty at this time is that David Platt, who suf­fers from melanoma, plans to close the swim club at the end of the 2M13 sum­mer sea­son.

In a let­ter sent to res­i­dents over the sum­mer, he ex­plained that his de­ci­sion to shut­ter the club is based on health rea­sons.

To date, nei­ther the su­per­vi­sors nor any other town­ship agency has taken an of­fi­cial ac­tion on any of the kew­town pwim Club’s devel­op­ment plans.

Cur­rent zon­ing al­lows for the mo­bile homes at the site “by right,” with­out the need for vari­ances.

If the de­vel­oper pro­ceeds with the mo­bile home project, the town­ship plan­ning com­mis­sion is ten­ta­tively sched­uled to hear the pro­posal at its ceb. 3 pub­lic meet­ing, with the board of su­per­vi­sors slated to hold a Planned Res­i­den­tial Devel­op­ment (PRD) hear­ing at its ceb. 13 meet­ing to also re­view the plans.

Be­cause the su­per­vi­sors act in a quasi­ju­di­cial role at the PRD hear­ings, they de­clined to com­ment on any of the specifics of the planned mo­bile home project.

“They’ll be plenty of ad­di­tional ques­tions in front of us no mat­ter what plans is submitted,” pu­per­vi­sor Chair­man Mike Gal­lagher said.

that­ever hap­pens will de­pend on Meis­ter, who will have to de­cide whether to pur­sue the mo­bile homes, or ne­go­ti­ate a deal on the town­homes.

The de­vel­oper pointed out that he has al­ready sunk con­sid­er­able money into both sets of plans, and has in­di­cated that the mo­bile home park is the bet­ter of the two pro­pos­als.

“It’s an old-fash­ioned mo­bile trailer park. It af­fords peo­ple who can’t af­ford a home here to get into kew­town. I’m very ex­cited about it,” Meis­ter has said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.