Photos by Evan Brandt
The remnants of the crowd at the Upper Pottsgrove Commissioners meeting Monday night as discussion of the Cross Roads development began to wind down.
Residents worried about a proposal to build apartments for those earning "workforce" wages off Route 100 crowded the Upper Pottsgrove meeting room Monday night to ask questions and propose reasons why the project should not move forward.
The site, located on the east side of Route 100 near the intersection with Moyer Road, has a long complicated history that goes back to 2002.
The short version is the developer at the time, Richard Mingey, had proposals for developments on two properties on either side of Route 100 which at different times, numbered as many as 500, or 300.
The township commissioners at the time resisted the proposal and Mingey sued the township arguing its zoning was flawed because it did not allow for affordable housing. The township and Mingey settled and as part of a "curative amendment" that has the force of a court order, the project was reduced to one side of the highway and 51 townhouses.
Commissioner Herb Miller said he visited another site operated
by Delaware Valley Development Co and was impressed. This was
one of two photos passed around as an example of their work.
Now a new company, Delaware Valley Development Co., has taken over the project. It applied for and obtained tax credits from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. This provides a tax incentive for housing that meets the needs of those who make between $30,000 and $60,000 a year, roughly.
Although reported, this was all flying under the public radar for the most part until the developer asked the township to change the project from townhouses to "flats," or apartments." The commissioners agreed because it would improve the aesthetic layout of a project they had to allow anyway.
Because the Pottsgrove School Board was also a party to the settlement, the township asked the school board if they would approve the change.
School board member Al Leach posed the question to the members of the Facebook page operated for the benefit of residents of the Turnberry Farm development and, well, the rest is history, or at least news of the moment.
About 30 people attended the meeting and none spoke in favor of the project. Many asked questions and some said the township should reject the development, while commissioners and Township Solicitor Charles Garner Jr. explained why they could not (or would not, depending on your interpretation.)
This is another photo presented Monday night as a site built and
run by Delaware Valley Development Co.
The residents of Turnberry Farms -- which is home to roughly 450 souls, presumably some of them children, and was built between 1995 and 2002 by Rotelle Builders -- said the proposed 51-unit project would over-burden the schools, causing school taxes to go up.
They said their homes are already worth less than they paid for them, and that allowing rental units at the location three miles away would lower their property values even further, and bring crime and other social problems to the township.
As of now, no formal plan has been submitted and the matter will like be discussed at the next Pottsgrove School Board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at Pottsgrove High School.
A note about the Tweets below: In an effort to get as many interested people as possible involved, I shot live Periscope video of about 40 minutes of the meeting, which reached nearly 90 views. However, while Periscope is nice because its live, its also persnickety. and is only on line for 24 hours.
UPDATE: Thanks to a tech-savvy resident of Turnberry Farms, the video was uploaded and I have since managed to upload it to YouTube, so here it is:
And Here are the Tweets