Board to ask builder to scrap plans for mobile homes
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.