Hear­ing resched­uled on swim club town­house plans

The Advance of Bucks County - - WORD ON THE STREET - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

NbWTOWN TOWN­SHIP - The Board of Su­per­vi­sors has resched­uled un­til July 24 a hear­ing on the de­vel­op­ment plans to build 56 high-den­sity townhouses on the New­town Swim Cub site in­stead of an equal num­ber of con­tro­ver­sial mo­bile homes that were once planned.

The pro­ceed­ing, known as a Planned oes­i­den­tial De­vel­op­ment EPoD) hear­ing, was orig­i­nally sched­uled dur­ing the June 26 su­per­vi­sors’ meet­ing, but had to be post­poned be­cause the Warmin­ster-based County Builders, Inc. and its at­tor­ney were un­avail­able to meet with the town­ship plan­ning com­mis­sion be­fore the PoD hear­ing.

Town­ship plan­ners will now re­view the pro­posed pro­ject at a plan­ning com­mis­sion meet­ing next month, so that the su­per­vi­sors can hold the PoD hear­ing dur­ing their sec­ond reg­u­larlysched­uled meet­ing in July.

Un­der a PoD hear­ing, which is per­mit­ted un­der state law, the town­ship’s nor­mal plan­ning and zon­ing ap­proval chan­nels are by­passed. It gives the su­per­vi­sors the sole au­thor­ity to ap­prove de­vel­op­ment plans in an ex­pe­dited man­ner while al­low­ing de­vel­op­ers to fast-track their projects.

While the su­per­vi­sors could ren­der a de­ci­sion im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the July 24 PoD hear­ing, Penn­syl­va­nia law gives the town­ship 60-days af­ter for­mal hear­ings con­clude to ap­prove or deny the ap­pli­ca­tion.

The swim club sits on a 16.36-acre par­cel, which is lo­cated on New­town-Yard­ley ooad near the bor­der of New­town Bor­ough, and ad­joins sev­eral res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments.

In April, the su­per­vi­sors voted 3-2 to re­verse their pre­vi­ous ob­jec­tion to County Builders’ town­house plans if the de­vel­oper agreed to place the mo­bile home pro­posal on hold, which it did.

In turn, the de­vel­oper has agreed to ac­cept the town­ship’s rec­om­men­da­tions con­cern­ing seven zon­ing waiver re­quests, cov­er­ing such things as: road widths, drive­ways, buf­fers along the de­vel­op­ment’s bor­ders and al­lot­ted recre­ational space.

To ac­com­mo­date roads which would be much nar­rower than al­lowed un­der cur­rent or­di­nances, the town­ship has rec­om­mended that the traf­fic pat­tern be changed to a one-way cir­cu­lar route and that on-street park­ing be pro­hib­ited.

Po­lice would also be per­mit­ted to ticket and tow cars il­le­gally parked. In ad­di­tion, nopark­ing signs would have to be posted.

In­ter­sec­tions must also be wide enough for trucks, es­pe­cially fire-depart­ment ve­hi­cles, to turn.

The waiver re­quests were re­viewed by the town­ship man­ager and engi­neers, as well as po­lice and fire of­fi­cials, and the changes were rec­om­mended to ac­count for safety.

The path to the com­pro­mise was tu­mul­tuous.

In De­cem­ber, County Builders’ pres­i­dent Michael Meister had sub­mit­ted plans to build a 56-unit mo­bile home park on the swim club site, af­ter the su­per­vi­sors had voted to op­pose a pre­vi­ous pro­posal to put up 52high den­sity town homes.

Af­ter con­sid­er­able de­bate, the fol­low­ing month, the su­per­vi­sors had switched course, nar­rowly agree­ing to at­tempt to per­suade Meister to re­sub­mit his plans for the 52 townhouses. Town­ship so­lic­i­tor Jef­frey Gar­ton was then in­structed to meet with the de­vel­oper and his at­tor­ney, John sa­ni­u­va­nee, to work out a com­pro­mise.

Un­der the ten­ta­tive agree­ment, County Builders’ in­creased the num­ber of town homes to 56, four more than were orig­i­nally pro­posed, and the same as the num­ber of mo­bile homes that the de­vel­oper sought.

Mean­while, Su­per­vi­sor oob Ciervo re­peat­edly has ar­gued that 56 town homes is still too much for the prop­erty, and that the o-2 zon­ing al­lows for roughly 30 sin­gle-fam­ily homes to be built in that area.

Ac­cord­ing to Ciervo, there is a zon­ing hear­ing process for the waivers needed for a town­house de­vel­op­ment, and that the PoD route is not the proper tool.

bver since County Builders had sub­mit­ted plans for the mo­bile home park, pub­lic op­po­si­tion had mounted, es­pe­cially from res­i­dents of neigh­bor­ing de­vel­op­ments such as: Headley Trace, oain­tree, Win­der­mere, hirk­wood and Wilt­shire Walk.

oes­i­dents had feared that their prop­erty val­ues would drop, and that the po­ten­tial view of a mo­bile home park would be an eye­sore.

David Wag­ner, a board mem­ber of the home­own­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion of Headley Trace, which is ad­ja­cent to the swim club, had told the su­per­vi­sors in past meet­ings that the town homes, de­spite the den­sity, are bet­ter suited for the area than the mo­bile home park.

“Our de­vel­op­ment was 90 per­cent in fa­vor of townhouses,” he had main­tained. “If you take the mat­ter to court then our prop­erty val­ues drop un­til the mat­ter is set­tled.”

haren Miller, co-pres­i­dent of the New­town Com­mons Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion, which had voted to op­pose the mo­bile homes, chas­tised the su­per­vi­sors for not be­ing “busi­ness friendly” for orig­i­nally re­ject­ing the townhouses.

But not all pub­lic speak­ers had agreed that with the su­per­vi­sors’ change-of-heart to al­low high-den­sity hous­ing. Jay Sen­si­baugh of New­town Cross­ing also had chal­lenged the PoD route, claim­ing that it sets a danger­ous prece­dent.

“I’m con­cerned about prece­dents, it’s a prece­dent on land near my home,” he had cau­tioned.

How­ever, the su­per­vi­sors’ fi- nal ap­proval of the town homes is not guar­an­teed, and while that ap­pli­ca­tion is be­ing con­sid­ered, the mo­bile home park plans will still be pend­ing at the same time, a con­di­tion that has ran­kled Su­per­vi­sor Ciervo.

At the June 12 su­per­vi­sors’ meet­ing, Ciervo in­tro­duced a mo­tion, which failed to pass, call­ing on the board to first vote on the pend­ing mo­bile home ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore con­sid­er­ing the town homes.

“Un­til it’s done, it’s go­ing to be held over our head,” he as­serted.

“This is how this per­son has cho­sen to op­er­ate,” Ciervo added, re­fer­ring to Meister.

Su­per­vi­sor Phil Cal­abro agreed, not­ing that the town­ship “still has a ham­mer over our heads.” “We’re do­ing noth­ing, we’re bend­ing over and hold­ing our an­kles,” Cal­abro de­clared, “we’re very weak.”

Chair­man Mike Gal­lagher ad­vised that a vote on the mo­bile homes would be im­proper be­cause the town­ship is dili­gently re­view­ing the town home ap­pli­ca­tion, but that there was no such re­view of the mo- bile home pro­posal.

“If we turn down the mo­bile home plan, the de­vel­oper would ap­peal in court,” Gal­lagher warned. “Do we re­ally want to turn down a plan which we no longer want?”

“iet’s get it out of the way, one way or an­other,” Ciervo re­sponded.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.