Friday, July 7, 2017

500-Unit Sanatoga Green Plan Hits a Speed Bump

The proposal to build a hotel, medical office building and about 500 housing units did not win the preliminary site plan approval the developers were so obviously expecting Thursday night.

Rather, after disagreements surfaced about details and whether limits could be placed on residential developments to guarantee commercial developments could be built, both sides retreated to re-group.

There was a lot of talk -- after all lawyers, engineers and politicians were involved -- but the essential issue comes down to this.

The township commissioners have seen too many "mixed use developments" flounder after the residential portion of the project was built, leaving the schools with more students but no commercial tax base to offset the cost.

So the township wants "phasing," with one of the commercial developments being built after the townhomes, for which the developers already have a contract.

From the developers' standpoint, they don't control the market and don't control which type of partner they secure and when. Limiting the project to a schedule phasing undermines the ability to get the financing to undertake all the site work at the same time, a considerable savings.

Suffice it to say that no compromise was reached Wednesday night, although a few were floated. However, the pending signing of a contract for the 60,000 square-foot medical facility may break the log-jam.

A meeting between the township staff and developers, along with two commissioners, has been scheduled with anticipation that the preliminary approval can be accomplished at the July 20 meeting.

The project calls for 60,000 square-foot medical building, a 108-room hotel, 17 multi-family apartment buildings with a total of 343 units & and 147 townhomes, all on about 50 acres off Evergreen Road opposite the Limerick outlets.

That said, you can read the Tweets if you want the long version, including the catty exchange between Township Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. and Frank Bartle, the developers' attorney.

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