SANATOGA PA – An “informal proposal” to build a “mix of stacked three-story flats and two-story townhomes” across 57 acres of property owned by quarry operator Haines and Kibblehouse on the south side of U.S. Route 422 was unanimously rejected Thursday night (Aug. 23, 2012) by the Lower Pottsgrove Township Board of Commissioners.
Assistant Manager Alyson Elliott, who reviewed plans for what was labeled as the “Sanatoga Station Development,” told commissioners in a memo the project – if and when fully built, in an area roughly between South Pleasant View and South Sanatoga roads – could include up to 450 residences. It would increase the number of townhomes within Lower Pottsgrove by 40 percent, she wrote.
“This is a nightmare waiting to happen for Lower Pottsgrove and the Pottsgrove School District,” Commissioner Stephen Klotz said of the proposal’s potential impact on township and educational services.
“We’re recommending you give a thumbs-down on this particular type of development,” Manager Rodney Hawthorne told the board. Commissioners – with the exception of Michael McGroarty, who was absent – agreed, with little other comment.
The proposal was submitted on behalf of Haines and Kibblehouse by residential contractor TH Properties. Before it encountered financial problems in 2009, THP was a popular home builder in western Montgomery County. It created the Kingston Hill development in Gilbertsville, a half-mile north of the township line off North Charlotte Street; the Coddington View community off Farmington Avenue in Upper Pottsgrove Township; and Crosswinds in Limerick Township.
As presented, the proposal is unlikely to go further. The property is designated for limited industrial use, and would require zoning and other changes to proceed. Hawthorne said the township initially envisioned the area, which has high visibility from 422, as well suited to an office park or similar business or company use. “We still think that’s the right thing,” he added. “The property doesn’t support what they want to do.”
Commissioners are accustomed to receiving proposals informally. They’ve heard several in recent years past, and offer their comments or opinions as a “sounding board” that is generally appreciated by developers before they invest heavily in the planning process. It appeared that THP, Haines and Kibblehouse, and township staffers held several talks about the project over a period of months, but until Thursday it had not been publicly discussed.
Although THP’s plans call for a “footprint” of 250 units built in three “pods”, Elliott estimated that the number of dwellings they contained could be almost double that number. By comparison, she cited an earlier and also informal proposal by Haines and Kibblehouse to build only 188 carriage houses for the same area in what would have been an age-restricted residential community.
The acreage at issue is on the north side of Linfield Road, across from the Haines and Kibblehouse-owned Sanatoga Quarry and Asphalt division of Pottstown Trap Rock Quarries. It stretches uphill, north and east, toward 422 and a significant amount of frontage along the four-lane, limited access highway.
It is bordered on the west by South Pleasant View Road, from which all three pods would have access; and on the east by Sanatoga Creek, Sanatoga Lake, and the township’s Sanatoga Park complex.
Other factors also are at work in determining the property’s future, Elliott wrote.
The first is the still-in-progress “Pottstown Region Market Analysis and Fiscal Impact Study,” which in part focuses on the township. It predicts Lower Pottsgrove faces future operating deficits if its population continues to climb, and recommends minimizing development to ensure fiscal control. The study is available for public review at the municipal building, 2199 Buchert Rd., until Oct. 5.
The second, similarly still-in-progress, is the township’s long-awaited plans to re-zone land surrounding the Sanatoga interchange of 422. It’s working with county officials, and in partnership with neighboring Limerick, to decide the right combination of uses for properties there. A presentation of those recommendations probably won’t be available until December, Elliott said.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Aug. 23 meeting):
- Commissioners Reject Townhomes Project South Of 422
- Township Schedules Fall Meetings For Its 2013 Budgets
Drawings from Lower Pottsgrove Township via TH Properties