Town­ship ap­proves first phase of Sanatoga Green pro­ject

When fin­ished, devel­op­ment will add nearly 500 hous­ing units

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt [email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

LOWER POTTSGROVE >> With lit­tle fan­fare and no com­ment, the Lower Pottsgrove Town­ship Com­mis­sion­ers voted unan­i­mously Dec. 3 to ap­prove the first phase of a $146 mil­lion pro­ject which, when fin­ished, will con­struct nearly 500 hous­ing units near the Lim­er­ick out­lets.

The first phase ap­proved calls for the con­struc­tion of 147 town homes. The fi­nal site plan for this phase was rec­om­mended by the town­ship plan­ning com­mis­sion in Oc­to­ber, said Town­ship Man­ager Ed Wag­ner.

Con­struc­tion is set to be­gin in the spring.

Lo­cated on a to­tal of 57 acres, the pro­ject calls for the con­struc­tion of 490 hous­ing units com­prised of the ap­proved 147 town homes; 343 apart­ments in 17 build­ings; a 50,000 square foot med­i­cal of­fice build­ing and a 108room ho­tel.

The site is lo­cated off Ever­green Road, near the en­trance to the Costco and Philadel­phia Pre­mium Out­lets, both of which are in Lim­er­ick Town­ship.

The pro­ject was first en­vi­sioned in 2014, when the town­ship com­mis­sion­ers agreed to change the zon­ing to “gate­way mixed use” at the sug­ges­tion of the de­vel­op­ers, Cas­tle Calde­cott, LLC.

The pro­ject won pre­lim­i­nary site plan ap­proval from the town­ship com­mis­sion­ers in July, 2017.

Com­mer­cial Comes Next

Town­ship Solic­i­tor Charles D. Gar­ner Jr. said a clause re­mains in place that re­quires the com­mer­cial phases of the pro­ject to be built next, be­fore the apart­ments, oth­er­wise the de­vel­op­ers can be sub­ject to a penalty of $375,000.

The com­mis­sion­ers had pre­vi­ously ex­pressed con­cern that if all the hous­ing were built first, the com­mer­cial prop­er­ties might never get built.

That would be of gravest con­cern to the Pottsgrove School Dis­trict, which ben­e­fits from tax rev­enues from com­mer­cial prop­er­ties be­cause they do not add to the dis­trict’s en­roll­ment. Res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment, on the other hand, does.

Last year, Pottsgrove School Dis­trict Busi­ness Man­ager David Nester shared the re­sults of a de­mo­graphic study that fore­cast the dis­trict could see growth of as much as 3,700 more stu­dents in the next 10 years.

How­ever, the sce­nario the con­sul­tant hired by the board in Novem­ber con­sid­ers the most likely is an 8-per­cent in­crease in the next 10 years, which works out to 262 ad­di­tional chil­dren.

Nester said the build­ings most likely to see the great­est im­pact un­der this sce­nario are Lower Pottsgrove El­e­men­tary School (53 more stu­dents) and Pottsgrove Mid­dle School, which would see 109 more.

The pri­mary driv­ers be­hind this fore­cast are the res­i­den­tial units in Sanatoga Green and the 58unit rental devel­op­ment off Moyer Road in Up­per Pottsgrove.

“We’ve never had his kind of in­flux of hous­ing be­fore. These num­bers are con­ser­va­tive, and frankly they’re still twice what de­vel­op­ers said,” Nester told the board last year.

That fore­cast may be di­min­ished some­what since the Spring Val­ley Farms devel­op­ment now be­ing built off Bleim Road in Lower Pottsgrove was changed over to be mar­keted to res­i­dents over 50 years old.

Tax Wind­fall?

But Cas­tle Calde­cott’s anal­y­sis pre­dicted the Sanatoga Green pro­ject will gen­er­ate only 58 ad­di­tional stu­dents for the school dis­trict and will be a tax wind­fall.

Es­ti­mated to gen­er­ate just over $3 mil­lion in ad­di­tional tax rev­enue for the school dis­trict, a 2016 anal­y­sis done for the de­vel­op­ers, es­ti­mated $1.1 mil­lion in costs to the dis­trict.

That leaves Pottsgrove Schools $2.6 mil­lion on the pos­i­tive side when Sanatoga Green is com­pleted, ac­cord­ing to the anal­y­sis.

As for the town­ship, which has a much lower mill­age rate, the to­tal rev­enues would rise by $627,159, mi­nus $385,400 in costs for town­ship ser­vices — again, un­doc­u­mented — leav­ing a net gain of $241,759.

More Traf­fic?

At­tempts to as­cer­tain the pro­jected im­pact the pro­ject will have on lo­cal traf­fic for this ar­ti­cle were not suc­cess­ful.

How­ever, more homes usu­ally equals more cars.

As it stands, Pen­nDOT is al­ready mov­ing ahead with up­grades to Route 422’s Sanatoga in­ter­change, which is nearby to the pro­ject.

The $3 mil­lion pro­ject will al­low traf­fic driv­ing away from the Philadel­phia Out­lets and Costco to get onto west­bound Route 422 with­out hav­ing to cross op­pos­ing traf­fic on Ever­green Road as it does now

The pro­ject is ex­pected to take most of 2019 to con­struct and is not likely to be ready for use un­til 2020. Sewer Im­pacts Sanatoga Green will gen­er­ate 78,000 gal­lons of waste­water per day. It will be pumped to the Pottstown Waste­water Treat­ment Plant with the help of $500,000 worth of im­prove­ments to a town­ship pump sta­tion.

The state, con­cerned about the amount of stormwa­ter and ground­wa­ter in­fil­trat­ing Lower Pottsgrove’s sewer sys­tem, ap­proved the ad­di­tional flow af­ter the town­ship in­creased its ef­forts to stem that in­fil­tra­tion from $175,000 per year to $435,000, said Wag­ner.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Mod­els of town home de­signs be­ing con­sid­ered for Sanatoga Green. The con­struc­tion of 147 town homes was ap­proved Dec. 3.

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