With a standing-room only audience, the Planning Commission meeting this past Thursday must have set a record for its length! The meeting started at 7 PM on Thursday and 7-1/2 hours later ended at 2:30 AM on Friday! The focus of the night were two projects – the proposed assisted living facility on Russell Road in Paoli and the Conestoga high school expansion plan and its new parking lot on Irish Road.
Although I did not stay until the meeting ended, we do now know that the planning commissioners approved (4-0 vote) the final land development application of Alterra Property Group LLC/Russell Road Partners, LLC to construct a three-story 116-unit assisted living facility on Russell Road. Although the Russell Road area is a residential community, the Alterra property is located in C-1 Commercial District; there are two existing office buildings which will be demolished for the project.
If you recall, back in 2012 the township changed its C-1 zoning to include senior living facilities as a by-right use. At the time, it was argued (unsuccessfully) that the zoning change to C-1 was ‘spot-zoning’ to accommodate a specific project – Daylesford Crossing.
During the last seven years, the township has grown from one assisted living facility (Highgate at Paoli Pointe) to four – Daylesford Crossing, Echo Lake (a massive 3-story, 250-apartment property with 160 independent living apartments and 90 assisted living and memory care apartments) and Brightview Senior Living (gigantic 450+ ft. long, five-story, 55-ft high building next to Whole Foods in Devon with 196 beds) and apparently coming soon a fifth facility on Russell Road in Paoli.
To fully understand the assisted living facility planned for Russell Road, it is important for folks to drive by and look at Brightview Senior Living in Devon – the scope and size of the building is overwhelming. Although the township C-1 zoning only permits a 160 ft. length, the planning commissioners granted a waiver for 450+ ft. for Brightview. Arguably wedging Brightview on E. Conestoga Road into the commercial area next to Whole Foods and Nudy’s and backed up to the train tracks did not directly impact many residential neighbors. But still – the planning commissioners granted a waiver on Brightview for over 3 times the allowed length!
Now we fast forward to the assisted living facility planned for Russell Road (which unlike the commercial location of Brightview) is a quiet residential neighborhood. And yes, we know that an assisted living facility is a by-right use in C-1 zoning but we also know that it only permits a length of 160 feet. Just like the Brightview Senior Living building, the planning commissioners approved a waiver for a 460+ ft. 3-story assisted living building for Russell Road. You have to wonder if the planning commissioners had not approved a waiver that is three times the allowable length for the building – would the applicant have reconsidered the viability of the project.
There’s also another twist to the Russell Road assisted living project and I’m not certain of its significance. The public learned at the meeting that two of the planning commissioners had to recuse themselves on the project due to conflict of interest. Long serving planning commissioner Tory Snyder is married to George Broseman, the attorney for the applicant. When Broseman is associated with any of Tredyffrin Township projects in front of the Planning Commission, the public is accustomed to Tory recusing herself from the discussion. This recusal was expected and not a surprise.
However, an audience member had asked why Peter Jonak (a relative newcomer to the Planning Commission) recused himself for the assisted living facility plan? Turns out that planning commissioner Jonak, owner of Spire Builders, very recently moved his construction office from Lancaster Ave. in Berwyn to Russell Road in Paoli, directly adjacent to the proposed assisted living facility on property owned by Alterra Property Group (the assisted living facility owner). Like I said, perhaps no significance but do find it curious.
The Russell Road neighbors have banded together and hired an attorney, an engineer and created a social media presence under “T/E development out of control” with accompanying lawn signs. Beyond the planning commissioners’ approval for the oversized building, neighbors are concerned about existing storm water issues and fire and emergency equipment on their narrow winding road associated with the planned assisted living facility.
As far as the Alterra Property Group is concerned, the project now has final land development approval – read green light. But where does this leave the Russell Road neighbors? Between the waiver for the 460+ ft. building length and the fire and emergency equipment concerns associated with its design, perhaps they will appeal the decision. An appeal would need to be filed within thirty days with Chester County Court of Common Pleas.
The other major Planning Commission application of the night was the preliminary/final land development for the high school expansion and the new parking lot on Irish Road. After much discussion and public comment until 2:30 AM, the planning commissioners voted 4-2 to approve the project and all associated waivers.
Although the parking lot on Irish Road was reduced to 94 spaces in the final plan, there remains much concern from the neighbors. The Irish Road parking lot and bus pull-off area is located in the R-1 residential zoning district but the use is permitted by special exception. Beyond the removal of many trees to construct the parking lot, the neighbors are concerned about existing storm water issues and pedestrian safety.
So much for slowing down the project to review possible alternatives with the 13 acre eminent domain purchase of the adjacent Doyle & McDonnel property. Apparently, it was stated that not only would the nursery property purchase not impact the expansion plans – it was stated that the high school expansion plans and parking lot would have remained unchanged, even if the District had owned the property when the project was designed!
I remain baffled as to how the additional adjacent 13 acres would not impact the expansion plans and possible alternatives for the parking lot. But according to its most recent newsletter, “The District is proceeding with its plans to bid the project in December with the construction phase starting in the Spring of 2020.”
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The Planning Commission is wedded to “Smart Growth” a Soviet-style central planning tool with the goal of huge population density. They have zero concern for private property. They are an unelected, out of control tyrannical bureaucracy ruining the township. They should be ashamed and booted from their posts.
We should provide through zoning and other proper means sufficient senior living. Do it right. But do it.
I do not understand the point in having zoning requirements. An applicant goes in front of the planning commission with a laundry list of waivers and voila, they are granted. Maybe I should re-phrase and say if a COMMERCIAL applicant comes in front of the planning commissioners with a laundry list of waivers, voila they are granted. Heaven forbid if you are a resident and need approval, that process doesn’t go nearly as easily.
During this last election cycle, I thought there was a lot of discussion among supervisor candidates about taking back final land development approval. The supervisors are the elected officials not the planning commissioners! Someone needs to be held accountable to the residents of this community, this is crazy!
Yes you are correct. Sharon Humble and I stated in public we were against super sized high density building which strains our public resources. As a candidate, I stated the Supervisors should follow through with Mr. Wysocki’s request to the solicitor to find out how the BOS can go back to having the final say on waivers and approvals.
In addition, I believe residents must email the BOS!
Do the democratic thing for and by the people.
Stop any new building applications when you first get them on your desk.
Ms. Humble please stop oversizing as you promised!
On October 4, 2019, newly elected School Board Director and retired teacher Stacy Stone said on SAVVYMAINLINE:
“””””I am one of those former district employees running for the Board. I have been quite vocal in demanding more transparency from the administration.”””””
I look forward to watching Stacy and hearing her demand more transparency from the Administration.
I hope she starts with correcting the accounting error that the Board voted to correct last June that has not been corrected even though 6 Directors voted in favor of correcting. She told me point blank, face to to face she had no problem standing up to the Administration on this and holding them accountable for it.
Also, incumbent winner Michele Burger must have been very busy at the time, meeting in secret and silently negotiating with the teachers union behind our backs.
Michele, are we allowed to know how much the raise you granted the teachers, who already make 3x’s what taxpayers who pay for it make, will add to the already out of control budget?
Did Art negotiate the contract with the teachers Union like he did at the last contract time? Was the whole thing orchestrated? Why didn’t you let taxpayers know you were negotiating the contract? Don’t we have a RTK? (Right to know?)
Thanks Michele and Stacy. I know how committed both of you are to taxpayers, students and parents and I look forward to watching and hearing about your timeline for fixing the accounting error and letting us know all about the tentative agreement between the teachers union and we, the taxpayers who had absolutely no say in it.
The next blog post will be specifically on the 3-year teacher contract on Monday school board agenda.
It should be noted that the Planning Commission initially voted AGAINST TESD 4-2. This was at about 2 am when they refused to hear any more public comment. TESD’s attorney then demanded specific reasons why their waivers were rejected and threatened legal action. Tredyffrin Solicitor and township staff held a brief closed door meeting with the Planning Commission; they came back in and held a re-vote – 4-2 in favor of TESD. Only then was TESD granted their waivers. 2:30 am!
This isn’t just about the parking lot. It’s about safety. And IT’S NOT OVER.
At the end of the day, if this expansion is delayed, the Tredyffrin and Easttown taxpayers should know that our group kept coming to public meetings to voice our grave concerns, kept emailing officials, kept at all our efforts, and still some very serious issues went unaddressed. And Tredyffrin Township granted variances and waivers. I love this area and many of the families who live here, but I am so disheartened at how this has played out – it’s been shocking to see, really.
Thanks for filling in the missing pieces Claire, I did not know that the initial vote by the planning commissioners was AGAINST the school district (4-2) – and then when faced with legal threats, the final vote passed the project with all the waivers. And the vote of this magnitude was finally settled at 2:30 AM – how many residents were still in the audience at that point?
According to my husband and neighbor who were among them, they estimate about 40 ppl were there at the end.
Thanks for the update — truly remarkable that residents were there until the final vote at 2:30 AM. Wow.
Well said Claire!!
Dear Liz Mercogliano,
You are correct in posting that I have publicly, and often, stated my opposition to super-sized, high-density building that strains our Township’s resources and over-imposes on neighboring residents. That is still my position. I have a track record of attending and speaking at Planning Commission meetings against these types of projects, particularly in these cases where non-hardship waivers to compliance with the Township’s ordinances keep being granted by the Planning Commission. In that vein, I’ve attended several Planning Comm’n meetings this year and spoken against the proposed overdevelopments. I was at the Oct. 17th PC meeting that went well past midnight, and twice I spoke against the Alterra/Russell Road project. I also spoke against the ECHO Dev. 250-unit apartment building that is going to be built at the old HHGregg/Golf Galaxy site on Swedesford Road. Earlier in the year, I attended the PC meeting in which a developer sought to change the zoning for the Chase Road Picket Post facility from Conservation to allow them to build massive townhomes there, overcrowding and dwarfing in size the existing home. I sat with the residents and spoke against that plan. I also attended the PC meeting this past Thursday, Nov. 21st–another meeting that went past midnight. I sat up-front, behind the Applicants, so that I would not miss anything. I don’t remember seeing you at any of those meetings.
I found your above comment rallying the voters to email me with complaints as follows, “Ms. Humble please stop oversizing as you promised!,” to be very odd. I haven’t oversized *anything,* supported anything oversized, or broken any promises regarding the Township. Your disregard for truthfulness and your attempt to knowingly mislead our Township’s residents about me is disappointing at best. You, having been a candidate for Supervisor in the election that occurred less than three (3) weeks ago, and being an attorney at that, know very well that I am not yet on the Board of Supervisors. The candidates who won their elections for Supervisor–including me–do not get sworn in or take office until January 6, 2020. That means we don’t have a vote on anything Township-related before that time: not last week, not this week. How could I “oversize” construction projects or break promises to fight overdevelopment when I’m not even in office? If Township residents want to email the current Board of Supervisors to express their views, I think that is always a good thing. But until Jan. 6th, I cannot be reached at the BOS@tredyffrin.org email address. I *do* welcome any comments, ideas, or outreach by Tredyffrin residents or business owners. However, until Jan. 6, 2020, the best email to reach me at is firstname.lastname@example.org. If people prefer to send written mail via U.S.P.S, I welcome that too. Please send such correspondence to me at Sharon Humble, 403 Churchill Drive, Berwyn, PA 19312. Thank you.
I just reread your interpretation of my suggestion to ask residents to email you in support of your public campaign promises.
I am not sure why you suggest I am not telling the truth or misleading residents.
I know you have no power right now.
I know residents know that too.
I know your office starts in 2020..
residents know that too.
I am suggesting residents continue to support you to stop oversizing during your term.
Thank you for providing a current email.
You represent us all.
I am supporting your pledge to support all residents.
Dear Longtime Resident–
I agree with you that waivers to compliance with the Township’s ordinances–which exist to protect the rest of Tredyffrin’s property owners and the Township’s limited resources–appear to be granted too frequently, and when true hardship has not been proven. The subject of overdevelopment was indeed a big issue raised by Supervisor candidates, myself included, in this most recent Nov. 5th election. The prospect of the BOS taking back final land development approval from the Planning Comm’m was raised so much that the BOS, in October, voted to direct the Township Solicitor to start researching the legal means for taking back such authority. I don’t know the status of that BOS directive. We candidates who won our elections for Supervisor have not given up interest in this subject; we just don’t have any power to effect change yet. We don’t get sworn in as Supervisors until Jan. 6, 2020.
Thank you for responding to this comment Sharon — and thank you for your commitment to the public regarding the over-development of the township. I will be interested in the time line for the supervisors take back the final land development decisions. There needs to be some significant changes in the waiver process for development projects.
Thank you for covering this high-interest and high-stakes Planning Commission meeting of Thursday, Nov. 21st. The meeting was standing-room only and full of well-educated, very invested, very informed, and very angry residents who resent feeling like their arguments and outreach to the Township against this impending oversized building–the size of a Wegman’s or Walmart in length and height–are being summarily brushed aside. These residents, and many others in the Township (me included), don’t understand what hardships Alterra has that warrant a waiver to allow them to build over 3 times bigger than otherwise permitted. These residents feel like they’ve been treated by the PC as insignificant in the process. The tension among the residents at the meeting couldn’t be missed. The room nearly exploded when PC Board member Scott Growney chuckled in laughter at one of the residents’ concerns expressed at the microphone. I’ve attended several of the PC meetings addressing the Alterra issue and met with several of the neighbors, including their group leader, Jay Halsey, and I have to say that I still don’t understand the “hardships” that developer Alterra would experience but for the PC’s waiver allowing them to construct such a large building in that location. I thought I heard Mr. Scott Growney, one of the PC Board members, state that Alterra got five (5) waivers granted, though the Agenda for the meeting states that Alterra was granted four (4) waivers at preliminary approval: 1) Building length; 2) First floor height; 3) First floor transparency; and 4) sidewalk width. Mr. Growney also stated to the audience that Alterra’s original design was to be built very close to Russell Road, but since so many neighbors objected to that plan, the Alterra group revised their plans to build farther back on the land parcel rather than close to Russell Road. He further stated that because Alterra changed their design to move the building back from the road, the PC granted Alterra a waiver on the length of the building–again, a length over three (3) times the non-waiver permitted length. To me, that sounded like a reward or trade-off for moving the building back from the road, not like a waiver to address an actionable hardship.
Regarding PC board member Peter Jonak’s recusal from hearing the matter, the issue wasn’t just that he had relocated his business, Squire Builders, to 1700 Russell Road, a location immediately west of the proposed Alterra ALF. The issue was that after the 4/11/2019 PC meeting regarding Alterra’s waiver requests, Mr. Jonak entered into an agreement of sale to purchase that property at 1700 Russell Road from the Applicant/Developer Alterra. The information stated at the meeting was that the purchase hadn’t been finalized yet. Apparently, the sale wasn’t to be completed until after Alterra had finished dealing with the Township for waivers and approvals. No information was given regarding when Mr. Jonak began negotiating with Alterra to purchase the property. I welcome any information that better clarifies or corrects my recollection about what was said at the meeting about Mr. Jonak’s business dealings with Alterra.
Thanks for your candid response Sharon! May your openness and willingness to communicate with the public continue after you are sworn in to office in January!
Re Spire Builders – I too understood that there was an agreement of sale with Alterra sometime after the April Planning Commission. The sale is not yet listed online with Chester County so didn’t know the status, whether the sale went through or if it was leased. Regardless, Mr. Jonak and Spire Builders are now officially located at 1700 Russell Road – the Spire Builders sign was installed prior to the Nov. 21 Planning Commission meeting.
Scott Growney chuckled in laughter at a resident expressing their concern?
Sounds like something a bully LAX player sitting at the cool kid table would do.
Thank- you for this information. Could you or Pattye or other knowledgeable resident give us information on how the Planning Commission operates. How many are on it? Are they appointed or elected? How do they get on the Planning Commission?
If members are appointed, how did a builder get appointed? And how did the spouse of a lawyer for the Plaintiff get appointed? Conflicts of interest abound!
It sounds like they’re working in the their own best interests at the detriment to the Township as a whole.
Please explain. Thank-you.
From the township website re Planning Commission:
Tredyffrin’s Planning Commission is a volunteer group of seven residents appointed by the Board of Supervisors. Each member is appointed to a four-year term. The Board of Supervisors has authorized the Planning Commission to prepare, update and oversee implementation of the Comprehensive Plan, Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance and Zoning Ordinance and to review land development and subdivision applications. Land development decisions by the Planning Commission are final, while the Board of Supervisors retains final approval authority on all subdivision applications.
Because planning commissioners are reviewing complicated land development plans, it is important to have members who understand what they are reviewing — including real estate attorneys, land planners, builders, engineers, etc. Tredyffrin Township is fortunate to have professionals with the needed background to volunteer their time on the Planning Commission. When needed, the planning commissioners recuse themselves when a proposed plan presents conflict of interest. As an example, Tory Snyder is a professional land planner and volunteers her time as a planning commissioner and will recuse herself when her husband is an attorney on the proposed project (as was the case with the Russell Road assisted living facility). Tory has served as a planning commissioner for years, is well respected and herself a valuable resource.
However, the difference with the owner of Spire Builders is that he did not originally recuse himself on the Russell Road project. I will presume that he had not entertained the thought of moving his office to Russell Road and the applicant’s property at the time that Alterra originally came to the township. But it’s all very odd – he purchases property from the applicant after the applicant receives preliminary land development approval and then recuses himself for the meeting where the applicant receives final approval. He has not been on the planning commission long so I really do not know much about him.
I’m just reading this now:
——-he purchases property from the applicant after the applicant receives preliminary land development approval and then recuses himself for the meeting where the applicant receives final approval.—————
Mr. Jonak, is this correct?
I started to look for a new office on 8/21/19, my broker Gregg D’Ascanio sent me a bunch of listing to look at. I originally passed on looking at 1700 because of the size. But after looking at what else was available, I did go walk thru 1700. I made an offer on 9/9/19. An agreement of sale was signed on 10/25/19. I am leasing the building now, and closing on it is set for the beginning of 2020. So I did not recuse myself originally because I had nothing to do with the building, nor did I know that it was for sale at the time.
I was ask to sit on the planning commission by Heather Greenburg because of my expertise on stormwater, grading, and building knowledge. I am also not a developer, track builder, or flipper. We only building custom homes.
Thanks Peter, appreciate the explanation and clarification.
Feel free to reach out and discuss. I am an open book, and everything that has transpired is honest and legal, and I can provide all wanted information to put this to bed. And it’s Spire Builders, not Spite Builders
Even if it’s legal and you’re honest.
Are you ethical? Is it ethical?
Absolutely, and yes, we can sit down and discuss if you like.
How did you, a builder, get on the Planning Commission? Which Supervisor nominated you? Why did you want to get on it?
Your ties to the senior living facility makes the situation look fishy.
I would love to meet with you. Is the offer open to me too? Pattye can attend if she would like to. I can meet with you anytime after the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend. If Pattye doesn’t mind, you can get my contact info from her and I can call you or you can call me, or just let me know through this comment forum and then I’ll get in touch with you.
Thanks so much!
Hello Mr. Jonah-
Thank-you for your comment.
Am I correct that you relocated your business, Squire Builders, to 1700 Russell Road, a location immediately west of the proposed Alterra ALF?
After the 4/11/2019 Planning Commission meeting regarding Alterra’s waiver requests, you entered into an agreement of sale to purchase that property at 1700 Russell Road from the Applicant /Developer Alterra and the purchase isn’t finalized yet. Is that correct? So you’re in a business deal and have a side relationship with the builder, Alterra. Was the sale to be completed after Alterra had finished dealing with the Township for waivers and approvals? Is that why you recused yourself? When did you begin negotiating with Alterra to purchase the property? Was it around the time you were appointed to the Planning Commission?
I agree with Pattye, Sharon and others that the whole thing seems very odd. The project now has final land development approval.
Mr. Jonak, Who does the construction of this 460+ length building benefit? There are already too many retirement facilities.
If you would like to meet, I am available next Wednesday 12/4 at 5pm to meet at my office.
You’ve answered a lot of my questions. If I have more, I’ll let you know well before next Wed. at 5.
Thanks for your open, honest, direct communication.
Hello Sharon Humble!
You are a breath of fresh air! What I’ve been waiting for in an elected official for 10 years! Thank- you for this well written and thorough report regarding the Planning Commission meeting November 21st. Please continue to “sit with” and fight for citizens and residents of Tredyffrin when you take office in January.
This comment is regarding the topic of Planning Commission members and their practices.
Please read newly sworn in Tredyffrin Commissioner Sharon Humbles above post for context.
The news that Planning Commission members are negotiating personal financial deals on the side, with the very same people seeking waivers and approvals fto build oversized buildings in residemtial neighborhoods from the same Planning Commission members, just adds layers of messiness to an already messy situation.
I disagree. It seems like people with something to gain personally get on these Boards.
It’s wrong and I don’t like it. They use their positions to bully citizens they take advantage of because of their power. Who on the BOC nominated the owner of Spite Builders?
I do not know which supervisor nominated Peter Jonak but do believe that he is the most recently appointed.
It’s Spire Builders, and yes, I am the newest member, coming up on a year now. I decided that volunteering my time was a great way of giving back to the township. I live here, work here, my kids go to school here, and I employ 40 plus people (families) here in this wonderful township. Please explain the bullying comment, because I am unaware of this ever happening.
Yes, I know its Spire Builders. I can only speak for myself and I never said anything about a planning commissioner bullying. I left at 9 PM and the meeting went to 2:30 AM, and I know that there were hours of discussion remaining – both on the Russell Road assisted living facility and the high school expansion. Perhaps the referenced remark occurred when you had recused yourself, I do not know.
Patty, my comment was in reference to the TE resident, stating that we use our position to bully citizens
Got it, thanks.
I have refrained from making public comments on maters but will weigh in to correct this accusation of “personal gain” as reasons to serve on the PC. Patently false.
At the last open position on the PC I personally asked Pete Jonak to serve. He is a respected member and businessman in the community and has tremendous expertise to offer in reviewing complex building and land development plans. These skills are not readily available. PC members give tremendous time contribution to the community and we are better for it.
Just because we don’t always like the decisions./outcomes does not mean the people making them have nefarious motives. Such unfounded allegations are not productive. I think there will be a healthy discussion by the BOS on “final approval” in coming months and the community should certainly weigh in – but making personal attacks should have no place in that discussion. If we constantly attack those willing to help serve in the community we will not be left with good options in the future. Only those with something to personally gain will be willing to serve.
Thank you so much for your response. Don’t overthink my post.
I am sure you want to hear from all residents that you represent.
How should residents contact you to support your fight against
Supersizing, non-specific Zoning language, the Digital Bill Board Court appeal and supporting Fire, EMS and First responders.
I am merely encouraging an open dialogue between residents and elected officials. I know our elected officials are happy to hear from them. I have emailed Murph and Gosse who have thanked me for emailing them.
We are better together!
I happy to hear you will fight for the residents.
Please continue to fight to STOP oversizing and supersizing
Please fight the court appeal to Ban the Digital Bill Board!
Please revise the commercial zoning ordinance to tighten up loopholes.
Thank you, Liz. I appreciate your clarification.
I appreciate the way you have respectfully answered our questions.
Claire Gallagher says above:
———-It should be noted that the Planning Commission initially voted AGAINST TESD 4-2. This was at about 2 am when they refused to hear any more public comment. TESD’s attorney then demanded specific reasons why their waivers were rejected and threatened legal action. Tredyffrin Solicitor and township staff held a brief closed door meeting with the Planning Commission; they came back in and held a re-vote – 4-2 in favor of TESD. Only then was TESD granted their waivers. 2:30 am!
This isn’t just about the parking lot. It’s about safety. And IT’S NOT OVER.————
First, is it true?
Second, if it is true, how can the School District, (The Administration and the Solicitor——- Rich and Art and Ken Roos’s law firm) threaten the Planning Conmmision with legal action when votes don’t go their way and get the decision reversed by going behind closed doors for a few minutes after a very long discussion and subsequent vote resulting in favor of residents? Why have meetings? Was this the plan before the meeting? If Rich and Art and the the Solicitor can threaten the Planning Commission with legal action and get the decision reversed, why waste everyone’s time with hours long discussions when the outcome is predetermined?
The township ordinances and codes are the law of the township. Feel free to reach out to the township solicitor for public comment. We are here to make suggestions to better a plan, but if it meets the requirements of the township, they are in their legal right to build. I did not want to cost the taxpayers more money to fight a legal battle that the township would have lost. Code and ordinance change happens at the Board of Supervisor level.
Thank-you Heather and Peter.
I did not attend the Nov. 21 Meeting.
Sharon Humblr states above:
———-These residents, and many others in the Township (me included), don’t understand what hardships Alterra has that warrant a waiver to allow them to build over 3 times bigger than otherwise permitted. These residents feel like they’ve been treated by the PC as insignificant in the process. The tension among the residents at the meeting couldn’t be missed. The room nearly exploded when PC Board member Scott Growney chuckled in laughter at one of the residents’ concerns expressed at the microphone. I’ve attended several of the PC meetings addressing the Alterra issue and met with several of the neighbors, including their group leader, Jay Halsey, and I have to say that I still don’t understand the “hardships” that developer Alterra would experience but for the PC’s waiver allowing them to construct such a large building in that location. I thought I heard Mr. Scott Growney, one of the PC Board members, state that Alterra got five (5) waivers granted, though the Agenda for the meeting states that Alterra was granted four (4) waivers at preliminary approval: 1) Building length; 2) First floor height; 3) First floor transparency; and 4) sidewalk width. Mr. Growney also stated to the audience that Alterra’s original design was to be built very close to Russell Road, but since so many neighbors objected to that plan, the Alterra group revised their plans to build farther back on the land parcel rather than close to Russell Road. He further stated that because Alterra changed their design to move the building back from the road, the PC granted Alterra a waiver on the length of the building–again, a length over three (3) times the non-waiver permitted length. To me, that sounded like a reward or trade-off for moving the building back from the road, not like a waiver to address an actionable hardship.——-
Am I correct that even though they may have a legal right to build,, the Planning Commission didn’t have a legal obligation to grant the builder 5 waivers allowing among other things:
A length 3x’s the non waiver length?
Maybe they would have decided against building if the Planning Commidduon hadn’t granted them the waivers.
and the 3rd oldest trick in the book:
Voting against citizens and granting waivers for the developer, giving him permission to construct a monstrous sized building in the citizens neighborhood ——to save the township money,
Come on man.
So Peter, am I correct, based on your comment, that the School District (Ken Roos’s law firm and the Administration, Art and Rich) went behind closed doors after hours of discussion and hearing from CHS neighbors and voting in their favor to the Planning Commission then reversing their decision, voting in favor of the School District, because the School District argued that they “have the right” to build and they would have no problem using tax payer dollars generated from the very people their fighting against, to work against the CHS neighbors in court for the right to execute their building plan the way they want to?
But the problem is that the traffic impact study was defective. Without congestion alleviation, it will create unsafe condition for residents and students.
TE Resident is 100% on point.
The traffic information study paid for by the school district and accepted by the townships 3rd party, paid, traffic consultant is faulty. The conditions accepted will be unsafe for residents. Multiple township residents with deep knowledge in this area challenged the report and have been ignored by the township and the district.
The district and the township paid for these studies with tax payer dollars.
The traffic congestion around CHS is dangerous and will become worse with the increased class sizes and additional parking and traffic flow on Irish Road. The district refused to consider the 13 acre nursery as an option(Planning commission asked directly 3 times and district and attorneys refused). The district is ignoring the safety of students and residents.
It appears the threat of legal action by the school district is more important to the Planning Commission than the safety of the students and residents.
The district “bullied” the commission due to a “construction schedule” and the commission folded. The commission could have easily continued the topic on the basis of the traffic concerns, they chose not to.
When a child is injured (or worse ….), it will be interesting to see how many lawyers show up to defend the district and township when a family comes to them for damages as they have knowingly allowed unsafe conditions to continue and be made worse. The situation is clearly documented.
This school board has no conscience. They are all about their construction plan and their ranking.