SANATOGA PA – Lower Pottsgrove Planning Commission members got an advance peek Monday (Aug. 15, 2011) at what they said were both substantial and favorable changes being considered for revised designs to expand Buchert Ridge Community, 2011 Buchert Rd., Pottstown PA. The retirement-age residential project was the controversial subject of a zoning board hearing only four months ago.
Planners were not asked to, and did not, act on any of the proposals introduced by developer J. Wilmer “Wil” Hallman and engineer John McMenamin of Hallman Retirement Communities. Responding to McMenamin’s request for comments, however, all said they were pleased with the redesigned roofline of a proposed four-story building of garden apartments that, as promised during the April hearing, would meet township height regulations.
They said they were happy, too, with a proposal to add a new retaining wall and wide planting and grass area on the west side of the apartments nearest Sprogels Run. Properly landscaped, commissioners said, the area would further reduce the perceived height of the building as seen from nearby Kepler Road.
Planners also expressed satisfied surprise with substantial changes to a public bus turnaround on the property, suggested years ago by the township Board of Commissioners, that would be used by Pottstown Area Rapid Transit as the eastern end of its Sanatoga-to-Stowe route. The turnaround now features separate one-way entrances and exits for greater safety.
Most visible of all the proposals is the apartment building’s new roof line. Initial plans called for a gable-style roof that put the building’s height about 13 feet above Lower Pottsgrove’s stated limit of 35 feet, and required a zoning variance. Hallman’s revised plans transform it to a mansard-style roof that McMenamin said adheres to the requirement.
“We did bring the height down significantly,” the engineer said, without sacrificing any of the building’s 39 units. “It doesn’t look so massive now,” Commissioner William Wolfgang noted, and his board colleague, Ronald Dinnocenti, agreed.
Its earlier height was a chief objection during the April zoning debate among area property owners, who told zoning board members their real estate values would be diminished by the towering structure. Hallman later withdrew his height variance request from zoning board consideration, and the project was subsequently approved with several conditions.
“We’ve been telling people that we would conform, and we will conform” on height, McMenamin said.
The addition of a retaining wall and a walk-out area on the apartment’s creek side “gives residents there a place to congregate” in pleasant weather, he noted. It also creates “an additional buffer line that softens the height.”
Earlier designs for the turnaround would have had public buses use a loop entirely within the project, with a single, two-way entrance and exit. Township engineers raised concerns about whether the loop itself was big enough for some buses, and adequately addressed safety needs. The redesign enlarges the loop, improves driver sight lines, relies on separate driveways for buses to come and go, and also creates a more spacious waiting area for a stopped bus.
“That seems like it would work,” township engineering representative Chad Camburn of Bursich Associates said. “It nicely resolves a number of items.”
The project is still awaiting approvals from outside agencies, such as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, on other parts of the expansion plan. “We can’t move forward without them,” McMenamin explained. “But we’re trying to do what we can to keep things going,” he said, which is why the plans were put on display Monday. Commissioners said they appreciated the chance to look.
Related (to Buchert Ridge Community):
- Planners Get Sneak Peek At Buchert Ridge Revisions
- Hallman Apartments At Buchert Ridge Get Zoning OK
- Buchert Ridge Added Sewer Capacity Gets Board OK
- PART Buses Play A Part In Buchert Ridge Building Plans
- Surprise: Height No Longer Zoning Issue At Buchert Ridge
- Over Objections, Commissioners Endorse Buchert Apartments
- Two Expansions Considered On Lower Pottsgrove Agenda
- Accusations Fly At Planners’ Meeting Over Buchert Ridge
- Applications Withdrawn; Township Cancels Zoning Hearings
- Lower Pottsgrove Hearings Set For Apartments, Lighting
- Walk Through These Rooms Without Moving
- Commissioners Warm To Energy-Saving Apartments
- Commissioners Get An Early Start Tonight
- Meeting Moved Up For Buchert Ridge Presentation
- Buchert Ridge Unveiling Final Phase
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Planning Commission meeting of Aug. 15):