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Township To Buy Sanatoga Land For ‘Campus’

SANATOGA PA – Three real estate parcels – a vacant lot and two single-family homes, comprising a total of 1.82 acres at the southeast corner of East High Street and Pleasant View Road in the heart of Sanatoga village – are anticipated to be purchased by Lower Pottsgrove as the site of a new municipal “campus,” the township Board of Commissioners agreed Thursday (Dec. 21, 2017).

The combined properties would form a unified space for the proposed campus, which currently has no timeline for construction or completion, Manager Ed Wagner said. The land purchases, assuming they meet several conditions, must be completed on or before Feb. 28 (2018) at a total cost of $377,000, according to Solicitor Charles Garner.

Commissioners’ unanimously voted to enter into contracts to buy the properties.

Their decision meshes with a recommendation from the board Infrastructure Committee, created three weeks ago and which met Monday (Dec. 18), Wagner reported. The group spent 90 minutes reviewing a list of township long- and short-term goals, he said, before recommending commissioners work to obtain “a property suitable for creation of a campus to provide municipal services that meet the township needs.”

Commissioners on Thursday also approved the township’s 2018 budgets and an accompanying tax rate increase of 2 percent. The rate hike, representing an additional $31-per-year cost to an average home owner, is solely attributable to board creation of a capital reserve fund for infrastructure improvements recommended by the committee. It is expected to raise $150,000 in revenue in its first year, according to budget notes.

Here’s where the properties are located

The adjacent properties due to be purchased, as described by Montgomery County property records, are:

  • 2258 E. High St., co-owned by David L. Poley, and Pottstown attorney and former township commissioner and solicitor R. Kurtz Holloway, on a lot of 17,707 square feet occupied by a three-floor single-family home, with an assessed value of $99,440;
  • 2238 E. High St., owned by George Kemp of Las Vegas NV, a vacant lot of 1.084 acres, with an assessed value of $84,660; and
  • 2255 Brown St., co-owned by George and Grace Kemp of Las Vegas NV, on a lot of 14,400 square feet occupied by a two-floor single-family home, with an assessed value of $86,780.

Garner said the township agreed to an offer price of $142,000 for the 2258 E. High property. It also agreed to a combined offer price of $235,000 for the 2238 E. High and 2255 Brown properties. Conditions include providing time for the township to conduct due diligence research regarding the transactions, and to ensure it is satisfied with the properties’ appraised values, and environmental assessments.

The township’s search for more space

The board has for years sought a solution to its lack of space in the existing municipal building on Buchert Road. The structure is about 27 years old, and can no longer accommodate the township’s growing staff and police department. In 2015 commissioners asked architect Donald Wirt of Noelker and Hull Associates to create sketch plans for a building expansion; they indicated doubling its size would cost $2 million or more.

The Buchert Road building sits on a parcel that consists of 4.65 acres, but it includes a small creek bed that floods during heavy rains and makes a portion of the property unusable, Wirt noted.

The largest of the three parcels the township looks to buy, the vacant lot at East High and South Pleasant View, was the subject of discussions during 2014 as a prospective location for a Family Dollar store. Commissioners spent relatively little time entertaining the idea, and rejected it within weeks.

The lot once provided overflow parking space for customers patronizing Kemp’s Market, a popular fixture in the village for decades and known for its butcher counter. Kemp’s was located across the street, at the corner of East High and North Pleasant View. It was demolished when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation realigned North Pleasant View to its current configuration.

At the turn of the century, according to Lower Pottsgrove Historical Society records, the lot was occupied by the C.A. Shuhart general merchandise store, a two-story structure with a full attic. It also housed Sanatoga’s first post office. Township Fire Marshal Lew Babel recalls there once was a button outside the building that could be pushed to activate the siren alarm at the Sanatoga firehouse, only a few doors west, to summon volunteers for any emergency.

The municipality is no stranger to East High Street. Before its move to Buchert Road, Lower Pottsgrove’s offices were located in the lower level of what is now the BB&T Bank branch at East High Street and South Sunnybrook Road.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Dec. 21 meeting):

Photo from Google Maps

Editor’s Note: This story, published Friday (Dec. 22) at 1:40 p.m., updates one published earlier in the day We say “thanks!” to Fire Marshal Lew Babel for his assistance with historical data. The earlier version appears below.

Township To Buy Sanatoga Land For ‘Campus’

SANATOGA PA – Lower Pottsgrove commissioners agreed Thursday (Dec. 21, 2017) to buy three parcels of land – at 2238 E. High St., 2258 E. High St., and 2255 Brown St., in the heart of Sanatoga village – to create what their Infrastucture Committee called a future “campus” for township municipal buildings.

The properties, when combined, would form a unified space on which the campus building or buildings could be erected. The land purchases, if they meet several conditions of sale, would be completed on or before Feb. 28 (2018) at a total cost of $377,000, according to Solicitor Charles Garner. The properties are located on the southeast side of East High at the intersection of Pleasant View Road.

A vacant portion of the same area (at top) was considered during August 2014 as a site for a proposed Family Dollar store. The proposal was later rejected by commissioners.

  • The Post is working to complete this story. More details will follow later Friday (Dec. 22).

Image from Google Maps

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