Board OKs Burger King project, sets hear­ing for BET

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - FRONT PAGE - By Ryan Gen­ova

ABINGTON >> Af­ter lengthy de­bate, the Abington Board of Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved a land de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion on be­half of a Burger King lo­cated on the cor­ner of Edge Hill and Brad­field roads dur­ing its Nov. 8 meet­ing.

The restau­rant chain plans to con­struct an in­ter­nal play­ground area and a sec­ond drive-thru lanem which will ef­fec­tively take out the side­walk along Brad­field Road.

The ques­tion be­fore the board was whether to ex­tend the curb and side­walk along Brad­field Road and, if so, which en­tity should be made to pay for it.

As the im­prove­ments in­volve a land de­vel­op­ment agree­ment, town­ship by­laws re­quire the restau­rant to fi­nance the costs of side­walk re­con­struc­tion and land­scap­ing de­tails on Brad­field Road. Burger King’s at­tor­ney sought a waiver from the board for the re­con­struc­tion.

“On bal­ance, we think that there are other places in the town­ship that could use side­walk en­hance­ment more than this par­tic­u­lar side­walk,” Burger King’s at­tor­ney said. “We don’t think that’s an ef­fi­cient use of funds.”

The at­tor­ney re­quested that the town­ship waive the side­walk re­con­struc­tion, cit­ing con­cerns that much of the ex­ist­ing ma­ture land­scap­ing would be ex­ca­vated. Burger King per­son­nel es­ti­mated $50,000 in land­scap­ing costs, of­fer­ing $25,000 to the town­ship’s gen­eral fund in ex­change for a waiver.

At present, both Brad­field and Edge Hill roads are two-way streets, though of­fi­cials said Edge Hill will be con­verted to a oneway street in the near fu­ture.

Board mem­bers in fa­vor of the waiver voiced their opin­ions dur­ing the meet­ing.

“This isn’t an area where peo­ple ab­so­lutely can’t get where they want to go,” Com­mis­sioner Matt Va­hey said. “I don’t think it’s nec-

es­sary to have a side­walk there.”

“We have an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee that’s try­ing to bring busi­ness to the town,” Com­mis­sioner Carol Gille­spie said. “How can we ask busi­nesses to come to our town and then ask them to spend in­or­di­nate amounts of money each time they want to im­prove their prop­erty? It’s im­por­tant to note that they’re not ex­tend­ing the prop­erty. If they were,

that’d be a dif­fer­ent story.”

Other board mem­bers sub­mit­ted that pre­vi­ously es­tab­lished town­ship com­mit­ments to side­walk en­hance­ment are against Burger King’s re­quest.

“My con­cern is that tak­ing that side­walk out goes against prior town­ship com­mit­ments,” Com­mis­sioner Drew Roth­man said. “Walk­a­bil­ity is some­thing the town­ship has de­cided it val­ues, and I agree with our com­mit­ment.”

In the end, the board passed a mo­tion that omit­ted a waiver for the Brad­field Road curb and side­walk.

In other mat­ters, BET In­vest­ments Inc. sub­mit­ted a zon­ing ap­pli­ca­tion to the town­ship for the de­vel­op­ment of Abington Ter­race, a 55-and-older se­nior apart­ment com­plex.

Con­struc­tion would take place at the site of the what is now the Abington YMCA on Old York Road. Of­fi­cials said the YMCA is cur­rently oper­at­ing but will be re­lo­cat­ing to a new Up­per More­land fa­cil­ity in the spring.

The Dresher-based firm said the pro­posed project would have 180 age-re­stricted apart­ment homes, in­clud­ing 12,000 square feet of amenity space with a re­sort-style pool area and ter­race court­yard.

“The amenity space will in­clude a gym, group ex­er­cise area, meet­ing spa­ces and a group gath­er­ing area to pro­vide res­i­dents with ex­cep­tional qual­ity liv­ing,” Michael Mark­man, BET In­vest­ments pres­i­dent, said. “We de­cided to build this project af­ter many se­nior res­i­dents in Abington ex­pressed a need for lux­ury-style apart­ments in a cen­tral lo­ca­tion within the town­ship.

“Our 55-and-older Dublin Ter­race apart­ment com­mu­nity in Up­per Dublin has a wait­ing list and is cur­rently 99 per­cent oc­cu­pied,” he said.

A long­time res­i­dent of Abington, Mark­man said the firm an­tic­i­pates a zon­ing hear­ing with the town­ship Dec. 18. Should all go well, con­struc­tion is ex­pected to be­gin in early 2020, with units avail­able by the spring of 2022.

“We are hop­ing to build this project in an ef­fort to cre­ate a new type of se­nior liv­ing in Abington Town­ship,” Mark­man said. “By do­ing this, we hope to give town­ship res­i­dents, and oth­ers, the op­tion to stay in the area when they sell their homes and down­size.”

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials, the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment would cre­ate $664,890 in net tax rev­enues for the town­ship and its schools, while re­duc­ing YMCA-gen­er­ated traf­fic, with 195 fewer trips dur­ing the morn­ing rush and 179 fewer trips dur­ing the evening rush.

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