Emmaus OKs plan for town homes on former Rodale land
“I know some of the neighbors would rather have woods, but that’s not realistic; that’s why we have zoning. They have the right to build something there and I appreciate that they’re going to put something nice in there.”
Emmaus Borough Council approved plans for 49 town homes to be built on about 10 acres formerly owned by Rodale after the developer agreed to tackle stormwater problems in the area.
At Tuesday’s meeting, council voted 6-0 to approve the preliminary final plans for W2B2 LLC’s proposal for the Towns at South Mountain development at Arch and Tilghman streets. Councilman John W. Hart was absent.
The plans include a walking trail that will surround the development and connect to a park. The borough Planning Commission gave the OK for the plans in July.
Joe Bubba, a lawyer with Fitzpatrick, Lentz and Bubba who represents the developer, said they hope to begin construction within a year. The town homes are expected to cost about $240,000 to $260,000, he said.
Neighbors of the vacant tract have long complained about problems with stormwater, a concern that Bubba said the developer will address.
Referring to borough engineer Jeffrey Ott, Bubba said: “I think Mr. Ott can confirm at this late date that the stormwater management actually exceeds what we were required to do and actually makes some improvements offsite that really were not our responsibility but because neighbors did come out, we addressed some of those items.”
Bubba said the development will have strict limitations on what the homes can look like and what can be added to properties so they don’t increase impervious surfaces in ways that can aggravate stormwater problems.
“For example, we’ve indicated that the only outdoor patio will be the patio that the developer builds,” Bubba said. “So you won’t have people adding on to that. That dovetails into our impervious coverage calculations where we’re
— Council President Brent Labenberg
controlling — no pools, no basketball courts, no trampolines.”
The development will have more parking spaces than required by borough regulations.
“Through the Planning Commission process we’ve increased the parking over what is necessary by over 25% to try to get as many cars off the streets as possible,” Bubba said.
Council President Brent Labenberg said that back in the 1980s, the tract was a junkyard but then Rodale bought the land and cleaned it up.
“I would much rather see homeownership in the Borough of Emmaus than apartments, so once again, I would rather have this than apartments,” Labenberg said. “I know some of the neighbors would rather have woods, but that’s not realistic; that’s why we have zoning. They have the right to build something there and I appreciate that they’re going to put something nice in there.”
Council gave the project conditional approval with two minor waivers.
Margie Peterson is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.