Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sanatoga Green Clears Zoning Hurdles

The proposed Sanatoga Green development, imposed on an aerial photograph of the 51-acre site off Evergreen Road, near the Philadelphia Premium Outlets in Limerick.

The massive 500-plus-unit Sanatoga Green project, which includes office space and a 100-room hotel, quietly cleared another hurdle Tuesday night when it received all five zoning variances being sought.

After a brief executive session Tuesday evening, the three members of the Lower Pottsgrove Zoning Hearing board returned to a meeting room devoid of anyone but a Mercury reporter, a court reporter and the developer and his lawyer, to approve all the variances.

Most of the evidence for the case was presented in May, when testimony from both the developer and residents was heard by the board.

The only matters before the zoning hearing board Tuesday night were the acknowledgement of the re-zoning of a 7-acre parcel along Linfield Road to comply with the Gateway zoning of the rest of the project, and letters indicating that a $100,000 donation had allowed for the withdrawal of a variance from open space requirements.

After a brief discussion of the acceptance of a letter raising concerns about the development -- which the zoning board refused to make a part of the record because it did not deal with zoning matters -- the board went into a five-minute executive session to discuss its final decision.

That decision was to grant all five variances.

The first two are to allow the project to have a 15-foot side yard and back yard rather than the 75-feet required in the zoning ordinance, adopted in 2014.

The three other, perhaps more significant variances, have to do with the number and size of the apartments and townhouses to be allowed.

The first variance allows for the construction of 166 townhomes among the 508 dwelling units. The ordinance would only have allowed 152.

The second variance allows all 166 townhomes to have three bedrooms. The ordinance only allows 50 percent to be three bedrooms.

The final variance is from a requirement that of the 342 apartment units, 137 be studio or one-bedroom apartments. The variance allows none of the apartment units to be smaller than three-bedroom.

Testimony in May had indicated that national builders had informed the developers they will not build units that small because they will not sell.

In a related matter, earlier this month, the township commissioners were informed that a $2.1 million state grant would be applied to expansion of capacity at the westbound side of the Sanatoga interchange on Route 422.

PennDOT would not have allowed occupancy permits for Sanatoga Green without the capacity of that interchange being expanded.

At Thursday night's commissioners meeting, another hearing will be held related to Sanatoga Green. At that hearing, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., the commissioners will consider a "conditional use" request to allow construction on slopes steeper than the ordinance allows.

Here are the Tweets from last night's hearing:

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