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Hearing Tonight Affects Sanatoga Development Plans

SANATOGA PA – A public hearing on proposed Lower Pottsgrove zoning changes that collectively affect more than 30 properties near the Sanatoga interchange of U.S. Route 422, and which could pave the way for expansive residential and commercial development opposite the Costco store at Evergreen and West Lightcap roads, will be held tonight (Monday, Aug. 4, 2014) by the township Board of Commissioners.

The Sanatoga Green development would occupy the area outlined in red

Sanatoga Green would occupy the area in red

The hearing, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. and continues until deemed concluded. The board’s regular meeting will immediately follow and, unless the proposals meet heavy resistance is scheduled to include consideration of their approval.

If accepted by commissioners, the changes would create two new zoning districts on the west side of Evergreen Road, south of 422: “Gateway Mixed-Use” and “Gateway Residential Overlay.” The mixed-use district permits a variety of business-related and professional projects, including a hotel that sources say could be the first building erected. The overlay allows residential projects to accompany that growth, in the form of single- and two-family homes, and mid-rise and garden apartments.

The zoning amendments are being driven primarily by a wide-ranging plan named “Sanatoga Green” that was introduced to commissioners in May 2013. In addition to a “nationally branded hotel,” according to its developers, Sanatoga Green also would include up to 400 residential units, a 10,000-square foot office building, a child-and-day care center, and a community clubhouse.

Commissioners and local residents who have already voiced opinions say their chief concerns are additional traffic that could be anticipated at the interchange and on connecting roads, as well as a possible influx of future students to the Pottsgrove School District.

Traffic issues weigh heavily in any future developments surrounding the interchange, as a letter from Limerick Township to the commissioners made clear during 2013. At the time it estimated the townships would jointly need to invest $12 million for PennDOT-mandated improvements to approaches on the limited-access highway’s entrance and exit ramps there.

All property owners in the affected area, much of which is currently zoned for limited industrial use, have been consulted about and notified of the amendments, Manager Ed Wagner reported. Because he can’t predict what response, if any, the hearings will receive, Wagner last week said he purposely kept the board’s agenda short to accommodate discussion.

The hearings may involve the appearance of outside legal counsel to the board. Attorney Robert Brant, who for many years served as solicitor of the township Zoning Hearing Board and now works as solicitor for the township, also represents Sanatoga Green’s developers. Because his involvement poses a potential conflict of interest, commissioners in March (2014) agreed to hire attorney Michael Furey to represent the township as they deal with the project.

Also involved in the future of Sanatoga Green is one of its principals and affected property owners, Ronald Dinnocenti. Dinnocenti is vice chairman of the township Planning Commission.

The expectation that Sanatoga Green and other development projects would proceed in this and coming years caused commissioners in May (2014) to abandon earlier plans to rely on outside contractors to provide zoning and codes enforcement services to Lower Pottsgrove. Instead, they hired building codes and inspections professional Joseph M. Groff as codes enforcement officer.

Properties (in green) affected by the Gateway Mixed-Use and Gateway Residential Overlay zoning districts

Properties (in green) affected by the Gateway Mixed-Use and Gateway Residential Overlay zoning districts


Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Aug. 4 meeting):

Zoning map from Lower Pottsgrove Township;
Sanatoga Green map from its developers

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