The entrance to the Buchert Ridge Community on the north side of Buchert Road in Lower Pottsgrove
SANATOGA PA – Solving differences over the interior renovation of a building that Sanatoga developer J. Wilmer “Wil” Hallman wants to use as an interim community center at the Buchert Ridge Community, 2011 Buchert Rd., Pottstown PA, needs to take on “a greater sense of urgency,” township Board of Commissioners’ President Jonathan Spadt declared Thursday (Nov. 17, 2011). So he proposed locking the negotiators up.
“We’re going to lock you into a room until you come out with an answer,” Spadt joked with Hallman, township Manager Rodney Hawthorne and others after hearing Buchert Ridge residents describe their frustrations with a lack of progress on the center’s repairs. “Can we make it a taproom?,” engineer John McMenamin of Hallman Retirement Communities pleaded with a grin. “No,” Spadt shot back, “then you’ll never come out.”
Their kidding aside, Spadt urged municipal and Hallman representatives to meet “fairly quickly” to find agreement on what the developer claimed were long-delayed renovations to the former Prizer house. He has already begun limited construction on a second phase of new retirement homes at Buchert Ridge, but the township has declined to issue a permit to allow renovation of the former single-family dwelling to create a community center.
The changed use of the building in the community’s still-evolving plans was the major stumbling block, Hallman said.
Buchert Ridge final plans call for a permanent community center to be located on the first floor of its proposed garden-style apartments at the west end of the complex. Construction on those plans has not yet started, however, and other buildings that previously were used as interim centers – five in all – have now been sold. The Prizer home would be the sixth.
Community residents Fred Serfass and Ben Walters told board members they couldn’t understand why the impasse persisted.
“It wouldn’t be the best community center. It’s only 900 square feet,” Serfass acknowledged. “But it’s better than nothing for an interim solution, and it can’t be completed without your authorization and the permits to proceed,” he told board members. “We can work through the township’s concerns over risks,” McMenamin added. “We just have to get moving on it.”
All accepted Spadt’s suggestion for a meeting to reach a solution. No specific date was announced.