An architect’s drawing for the revised housing community proposed for North Pleasant View Road, to be called “Spring Valley Farms”
SANATOGA PA – The developer for what in 2005 was proposed as a sprawling community of single-family homes covering more than 140 acres on the west side of North Pleasant View Road in Lower Pottsgrove Township has changed its mind about how the project might proceed, and hopes it can convince members of the township Board of Commissioners to go along.
Commissioners are being asked to consider significantly reducing, by about 66 percent, the size of the community’s acreage while simultaneously increasing its density – the number of salable homes to be built there – by half.
Homesher Hill LLC representative Brennan Marion discusses the project earlier this month with the township
In return Homsher Hill LLC of Worcester PA has pledged to dedicate more than 90 acres to be permanently preserved as open space under its ownership, unless the township wants to buy the remaining property itself. It also would pay to create a 19-acre park on land the township already owns at the northwest corner of North Pleasant View and Bleim roads, and add about a mile of hiking trail that would connect to the township’s planned and existing trail system.
Board members, who first saw a presentation on the revised concept for “Spring Valley Farms” earlier this month (March 4, 2013), expressed some reservations. They:
- Questioned the accuracy of a study that showed traffic might increase only 3 percent after the project was completed;
- Worried about a rise in the number of accidents that could occur at the problem-laden S-curve on North Pleasant View just south of the project;
- Noted the abandonment of earlier plans to reconfigure Bleim Road; and
- Wondered how it would conform to existing zoning requirements.
Most of those issues have yet to be addressed, and commissioners expect they will get more details in coming months. They promised at least one public hearing, and possibly others, would be conducted before determining the project’s future. “We’re not here to approve or disapprove anything,” board President Jonathan Spadt said of the meeting. “This was more to be informed of their thinking than anything else.”
Homsher Hill representative Brennan Marion and his architect, Seth Shapiro of Barton Partners Architects Planners Inc., both acknowledged the proposal was markedly different than the one approved by the board eight years earlier, at the height of the last real estate boom. Consumer tastes and housing budgets have since changed too, they noted.
When first introduced, Spring Valley Farms called for 178 four-bedroom single family homes selling for about $280,000 each. The revised project consists of only 63 single-family units at the same base price, but also includes 202 three-bedroom attached town homes with a starting price of $200,000, for a total of 265 units; 87 more than originally envisioned.
All would be clustered into a much smaller community “footprint” with its primary entrance off Bleim. Commissioners, and members of the township Planning Commission also in attendance, were surprised by Marion’s claims that an increase in salable units would yield less traffic and have a lower impact on the school system, based primarily on studies indicating town home owners have smaller families and fewer vehicles. “It’s not something we pulled out of thin air,” Marion said. “We will provide you with all our data.”
“And all that data will get reviewed,” township Manager Rodney Hawthorne assured the board, by township staffers and its engineers. “We’re likely to have our own comments on that as well,” he said.
Commissioners meet Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners will next meet tonight (Thursday, March 21, 2013) at an earlier-than-usual time of 6:30 p.m., to hear a presentation about the fiscal impact and marketing study in which the township participated during 2012. The meeting, the second of the month, will be held in the municipal building, 2199 Buchert Rd., Sanatoga. It is open to the public. A copy of the board agenda is available online, here.
Although the property is zoned as an R-1 residential district, the town homes and higher density might be allowable under planned unit development provisions, Hawthorne said. Normally, however, planned unit developments are considered for projects of 80 or more acres; the Spring Valley Farms revision is about half that size, so a zoning variance may be necessary, he added.
While he “loved the open space” dedication of the revision, Commissioner Stephen Klotz said he was “not real happy” with the number of students the project would attract to the Pottsgrove School District. Under the 2005 plan, studies suggest Spring Valley Farms would have included 182 school-aged children; the revision anticipates 107 new pupils. Pottsgrove school board President Scott Fulmer, who was in the audience, made no comment.
Legal restrictions in property deeds and subdivision agreements between the township and developer would ensure the dedicated open space remains undeveloped, Solicitor R. Kurtz Holloway said. At Spadt’s suggestion, however, Marion said his company would finance the township’s purchase of the open space if desired.
Financially, Marion claimed, the revised project would bring added tax revenue to both the township and district.
The project’s housing construction and marketing would be left to Ryan Homes, Marion said, which has enjoyed recent success in marketing a similar community called “Windlestrae Estates” in nearby Gilbertsville.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ March 4 meeting):