What’s on Tredyffrin Township’s Planning Commission Agenda this week … Mt. Pleasant and Devon townhouses, multi-story apartments in Paoli, single family homes in Berwyn plus a new hotel and another assisted living project. (Planning Commission meeting, Thursday, April 19, 7 PM, Township Building, click here for agenda).
Although we have had a long cold winter with spring taking its time to arrive that hasn’t slowed construction plans in Tredyffrin. Developers have flocked to the township with their assisted living and townhouse, apartment and condominium plans.
Reviewing the Planning Commission agenda, there is quite an assortment of proposed land development projects – some plans returning for further review and others new to the township. A few highlights from the agenda include:
- The Berkley Road Development project “Peyton’s Crossing” in Devon previously received approval to demolish a historic twin house on Berkley Road and build 6 townhouses – now they are back asking to amend the plan for 8 townhouses. (For the record, the demolished house dated to 1900. Remember Tredyffrin Township has no historic preservation ordinance of protection.)
- The Linden Lane Capital Partners “Station Square” redevelopment plan adjacent to the Paoli train station, which demolishes 4 existing 2-story office buildings to make way for a new 4-story apartment building, is back in front of the Planning Commissioners for preliminary/final land development approval. The proposed $40 million project includes 153 apartments and first floor office space, interior courtyard and swimming pool.
The proposed Linden Lane – Station Square project has garnered much concern from neighbors, including the increase in traffic plus lighting and adequate landscaping buffering.
- First time in front of the Planning Commissioners is a proposed townhouse community in Mt. Pleasant – “959 Radnor Road, 969 Radnor Road, 979 Radnor Road”, and 959 Fairview Avenue”. The plan calls for consolidating 4 properties into 2 lots and then constructing townhouses on each lot.
This is Mt. Pleasant, a community on the brink of losing its identity and place in our local history. In the last few years, absentee landlords have purchased and filled houses with college students, forcing neighbors to act as ‘dorm parents’ with late-night parties, increased traffic, etc. Residents have watched as small homes have been demolished with Mcmansions in their place and price tags that many in Mt. Pleasant cannot afford. Or, the vacant lots where developers purchased and demolished homes, only to later abandon their plans.
Wanting to understand the new townhouse plan proposed for Mt. Pleasant, I walked its streets this past Saturday with resident Christine Johnson, a long-standing supporter and leading voice in her community.
From a historic standpoint, at least a couple of the houses slated for demolition are from the 1920’s, which of course saddens me. Four houses will be demolished to make way for 12 townhouses – and with price tags that most of the neighbors cannot afford. This type of high-end development continues to erode the Mt. Pleasant – a place where everyone knows your name!
The bigger question for the residents of Tredyffrin Township is how many townhouses do we need (or want)? Is the destruction of our communities worth it?
Returning to the Planning Commissioners is the Valley Forge Motor Court Motel development project and Nolen Properties assisted living project at the Aquilante Catering site on Cassatt Ave.
- The current one-story Valley Forge Motor Court Motel is squeezed in between Route 202 and West Anthony Wayne Drive. The applicant is seeking to demolish the motel and build a multi-story Sleep Inn Hotel in its place. This proposed land development project was first in front of the Planning Commissioners last June. The applicant subsequently sought and received a Special Exception from the Zoning Hearing Board authorizing “hotel” use. I attended the first presentation of the proposed hotel and I recall that there were many in the community voices with objections to the plan — concerns for lighting, traffic and the multi-story size and scope of the proposed hotel.
In Pennsylvania, the PA Historical and Museum Commission uses the fifty-year standard to qualify historic properties. For the record, the Valley Forge Motor Court Motel qualifies as “historic” but remember, Tredyffrin Township does not have a historic preservation protection ordinance.
- 950 Cassatt Partners/Nolen Development Group is back with a “Petition for Zoning Ordinance Text & Map Amendment”. They are seeking to revise the O (Office) zoning district to permit “Residential Care Facilities” and to re-zone the property to the O (Office).
This proposed assisted living project is on the site of the Aquilantes catering business on Cassatt Road in Berwyn and requires a zoning amendment. Although the developer has scaled back his plans to 190 units, this is still twice the current allowance for the intended use. The current zoning laws allow for 10 beds per acre but the proposal is closer to 20 acres per acre. The high density housing is not compatible with the surrounding residential area.
The proposed text amendments to the density and impervious surface requirements allow a greater number of units and therefore a greater number of residents on this property as compared to a currently compliant facility.
The applicant hopes to gain recommendation from the Planning Commissioners to the Board of Supervisors for a zoning text amendment to create new density allowances for “transitional areas”.
When is enough, enough with the assisted living and the townhouses? I really am not opposed to development — thoughtful development, not development that impacts communities, overcrowds the school district, increase traffic and destroys historic structures!
Show me some redevelopment plans for the many empty office buildings and box stores and these projects would have my complete support!
Hope to see many residents at the Planning Commission meeting tomorrow at 7 PM, Township Building. Your voice matters and the Planning Commissioners listen!