Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Deeply Detailed Dive into Sanatoga Green

Photos, such as they are, by Evan Brandt
There was no end to the number of renderings, maps and drawings that developers of the proposed Sanatoga Green development presented to the Lower Pottsgrove Commissioners Monday night.

If you like flood plain maps, drawings, renderings, elevations, engineers, retaining walls, zoning variances and in particular, a lawyer speaking for more than an hour, then you should have joined me at the Lower Pottsgrove Township Commissioners meeting last night.
Variations on the type of townhomes proposed for Sanatoga Green.

Because that meeting had all of the above and more.

At the request of the commissioners, the developers of the Sanatoga Green project, Castle Caldecott LLC, consumed the vast majority of the meeting making a presentation of their plans and proto-plans and answering questions that have been raised in recent weeks by the township.

It was a bit overwhelming, but after all, the commissioners DID ask for it. And they seemed to get through most of it with a level head, asking questions as things went along until finally, Commissioners Chairman Bruce Foltz urged attorney Frank Bartle to "move things along."
One of three styles of apartment buildings proposed for 
the Sanatoga Green development project.

And the developers were not the only ones who spoke to the commissioners about the project last night.

Also present was Pottsgrove Schools Business Manager Dave Nester, who presented the commissioners with the district's dubious regard for the developer's prediction that a project with more than 500 dwelling units would only generate 58 additional children in the schools.

Using existing developments of several types, and the number of children each has sent to the school, Nester expressed the district's concern that the reality could end up being very much more than 58 students.

A drawing of one possible model for the medical
office building proposed for Sanatoga Green.
Piling on to that concern was School Board President Rick Rabinowitz who, speaking as himself and not for the board, said the school board has worked hard to hold taxes down and he is concerned that the potential increase in student population Sanatoga Green would generate could require costly expansions to school buildings.

However Bartle countered that not only had the developers used a nationally recognized model, but that the forecast had been confirmed just last week by none other than the Montgomery County Planning Commission.

Other concerns raised, specifically by Commissioner Ray Lopez, is whether the proposed hotel and medical offices that make Sanatoga Green a "mixed use" development would ever actually get built.

Bartle and Ted Drauschak, a principal in Castle Caldecott, replied there are never any guarantees in the market place, and noted that a medical use might replace the hotel.

"It's all about who commits first," said Bartle.
A photograph of the type of 100-room hotel envisioned for 
Sanatoga Green. Several companies are interested.

But after the developers finished and left the meeting, Township Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. told the commissioners that one way they can seek to force the issue of commercial development is to ask the zoning hearing board -- which will hear several variance requests from the developers on Nov. 15 -- to put conditions on those variances.

One or more of those conditions could be that the commercial portions of the project be built in order for the variances to be granted.

There were a few other things discussed at the meeting.

There is a new three-year contract with J.P. Mascaro -- which can be extended to five years -- that will cost less (yes, LESS) than the current contract.

The commissioners also appointed an auditor, disciplined a police officer for "conduct unbecoming an officer" and voted to put up new signs to try to ease traffic jams on Armand Hammer Boulevbard during rush hour.

You can read all about it in the Tweets below.

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