Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Removal of Wawa and Apartment Building from Richter Development Plans

Still in the early stages of discussion, we do not know where the proposed Trout Creek Overlay District zoning ordinance change and the development of the Richter property will ultimately end. My last post contained details from the long public hearing and as part the follow-up, the potential developer Joe Duckworth met with a small group of nine local Glenhardie community members. To assure transparency and to allow maximum community input, other interested residents were invited to attend the meeting held at the township building.

Many of the resident comments at the public hearing focused specifically on the ongoing township stormwater issues. The Trout Creek Watershed Overlay District ordinance would permit additional redevelopment usages on large properties in the Trout Creek Watershed in exchange for much-needed stormwater facilities help. As follow-up to the public hearing, there is a community meeting Thursday, March 8, 7 PM to discuss stormwater and flooding problems along Trout Creek – Township Engineer Steve Burgo will present the township’s 2010 study of the watershed and recommendations for improvement. The public hearing for the proposed zoning ordinance amendment continues at the next Board of Supervisors Meeting, Monday, March 19 at 7:30 PM.

Beyond stormwater issues, there was much discussion about the possibility of a Wawa or a large apartment complex that the proposed zoning ordinance would permit. Some of the residents asked specifically that ‘retail with accessory gas’ and ‘apartment house’ usage be removed from the zoning ordinance amendment language of the Trout Creek Watershed Overlay District.

For those opposing a Wawa or apartment building on the Richter property, there is good news to report!

The proposed developer for the project, Joe Duckworth, contacted me for an update. As I said in my last post on Community Matters, “I have found Duckworth to be very community-minded and responsive to all questions and concerns related to the development of the Richter tract” and this continues to be the case. Duckworth explained, that based on the community input at the public hearing, he immediately reached out to the Board of Supervisors to suggest that the gas station and apartment building usage be removed from the proposed zoning ordinance amendment for the Trout Creek Watershed Overlay District. Those usages will be removed in the revised amendment and Duckworth presented this new information to the residents at the follow-up community meeting. For the record, Duckworth says that a Wawa was not a consideration by Arcadia Land Company for the Richter property.

With Wawa and apartment building out of the proposed zoning ordinance change, the majority of the 30-35 Glenhardie residents who attended the community meeting, are OK with the Richter development plans for carriage houses and townhouses. But what’s the saying about not being able to please all the people? Duckworth explained there remain a couple of residents who are opposed to development project regardless of the removal of the Wawa and apartment building.

We discussed Duckworth’s plans for the Richter site; carriage houses and townhomes sound like they could provide a great option for Tredyffrin residents, particularly for those wishing to downsize for their large single-family homes but remain in the community. The carriage house concept with the master bedroom on the first floor has become a popular feature sought among the retiring baby boom generation. I have heard of several local residents who are already planning a move when the carriage homes are built.

According to Duckworth, the total number of carriage houses and townhomes in the proposed development will be around 120, although the breakout between the design types is not known at this time. Pricing for the carriage houses will probably be mid-$500K and townhouses in the $400K range. Duckworth confirmed that the entrance to the project would be Old Eagle School Road not Walker Road. With entrance to the proposed development off Old Eagle School, I voiced concern for the Valley Friends Meeting cemetery, which could be close to the new driveway. Duckworth reassured me that he was very aware of the situation and appropriate buffering and landscaping would be included in the plan to protect the cemetery.

The Richter property was one of 10 locations named in the 2010 Trout Creek Watershed Study and Stormwater Management Practice Analysis for stormwater best management practice in the township. The study suggested a 6-8 acre stormwater basin and Duckworth confirmed that his Richter plan sets aside 8 acres for the basin. According to Duckworth, the cost for the township to construct this large stormwater basis would be approximately $1 million plus the additional cost of land acquisition. Were the township to purchase the property and construct the stormwater basin, the costs would be several million dollars. As part of the Richter land development project, Arcadia Land Company rather than the taxpayers absorb these stormwater costs.

Without a Wawa or an apartment building in the Trout Creek Watershed Overlay District zoning ordinance amendment, the continued public hearing on March 19 will probably be less contentious. Although the Richter land development project is only in the early stages of the planning process, it looks like a community-minded developer may be the key to its success.

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  1. The BOS should pass the proposed ordinance with the modifications encouraged by Mr. Duckworth. I believe that is a solution everyone can live with.

    Joe Duckworth never wanted the Wawa or the apartments as part of the development (see the December 2011 Planning Commission Minutes) they were driven by Bob O’Leary on the Planning Commission to fulfill his personal vision of what is needed in the township.

    Mr. O’Leary has been on the Planning Commission since 2001. His efforts to force the apartments and Wawa into this development and the resulting public outrage demonstrate that he is out of touch with the residents of the township. 12 years and counting is long enough, it is time for him to resign from the Planning Commsion.

    1. At the Planning Board Meeting last Thursday evening, the Planning Board rejected the modifications brought forward by the Board of Supervisors to remove the WaWa and Apartment Buildings from the Ordinance so both are left in place. I hope more people are following the proposed ordinance closely as passing it could lead to greater demands on the T/E school system , increased traffic congestion and property density. This ordinance would enable many landowners of 5+acres to erect both apartment buildings and gas stations if desired. It is not limited to the Richter property. It is also unclear from the testimony last Thursday whether the retention basin proposed by Duckworth as “payment” for the ordinance density changes would have a significant impact on reducing the stormwater problems. From an engineering perspective, Thursday’s meeting discussed the importance of appropriately sized and maintained culverts, not basins, as bringing greater benefit to those affected by flooding. I left the meeting concerned that far more research needs to be done prior to passing the ordinance and that the ordinance appears to be less about stormwater management and more about allowing higher density housing in Tredyffrin Township.

    2. This is an example of what happens when u have a board that answers to no one. The PC is not elected yet, unlike every other municipality in PA, they have sole authority rather than answering to the BoS. This is something that should be changed back so the public has recourse.

  2. Nothing like jumping to conclusions and condemning a guy. What a cheap shot!

    The PC operates as a consensus group of professionals. No one person could possibly “force the apartments and Wawa into this development”. Your charge is absurd.

    As a professional engineer with decades of experience, Bob’s contribution to the PC is beyond question. There are a number of people serving this township and employed by the township who over the years have noted the lack of affordable rental housing. Should they all resign?

    When Trammel -Crow proposed 500+ apartments on the Tredyffrin portion of the Atwater property some years ago, the neighborhood organized in protest against a project that would change the character of the most rural section of the township.

    I remember. I was one of the NIMBY’s protesting. At the time, Bob and others on the PC took a more objective view and saw both the benefits and costs to the township. They noted the high cost of housing for young families wishing to locate here and for employees of the township and school district who could not afford Tredyffrin prices.

    In the end, those most affected by any proposed development shout the loudest – regardless of the possible benefit to the township coffers.

    Trying to pin the inclusion of apartments and other commercial retail options in the overlay ordinance – now removed – on Bob is just baseless and suggests personal animus against a long-time public servant.

    You owe Bob – safe in your anonymity – an apology.

  3. I hope that we distinguish here between the Richter property and the entire TCS Overlay district.

    It may be that a 40 units per acre density is not suitable/acceptable for the Richter property, but is it too high for every parcel in the district? Surely we can not zone for individual parcels? Since there is so much that is custom about this district, can not it include safeguards against unacceptable “by right” development that the PC and BOS decide is not in the community’s interest?

  4. The reality is that this community is full and built out. To encourage further subdivision “to make our community more affordable for young families” is an attack on your school taxes. Any resident with any children in the system are not tax payers — they are net negative costs to every other resident.

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