Em­maus OKs plan for town homes on for­mer Ro­dale land

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Margie Peter­son

“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.

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