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Bucks County Historical Society’s Doylestown Twp. land eyed for luxury homes

Selling to Zaveta Custom Homes would support Fonthill and the Mercer Museum, says the society’s CEO


Custom home builder Richard Zaveta outlined his concept for an upscale community on 24 acres owned by the Bucks County Historical Society in Doylestown Township at the supervisors’ meeting Tuesday.

The historic property is located just off Route 202, across from the Wawa and adjacent to the Doylestown Hunt development.

It was first part of the Free Society of Traders and sold to Jeremiah Langhorne in 1724, according to various documents. The original stone farmhouse and barn remain there.

News of the proposed plan surprised many, who said they didn’t learn about it until just a few days ago. Some believed the land could not be developed.

Kyle McCoy, CEO of the Bucks County Historical Society, said “there are no restrictions on the property, there’s no covenance and no 100-year trust.”

Selling the land, she said, is a means of supporting Fonthill and the Mercer Museum. “We have decided to do that.” Asked about the price, McCoy said there’s “no dollar amount” yet.

“The mission of the historical society is to preserve Bucks County and Doylestown,” Claire Boyd, a resident of Doylestown Hunt, told McCoy. “How does building $1M properties serve that mission?”

In his detailed presentation to the board, Zaveta said his “vision” for the site includes building three structures, each with 12 units, converting the existing barn into two dwellings and restoring the existing stone farmhouse for a potential total of 39 living spaces.

Ideally, he said, he would like to sell the farmhouse and barn as a “farmette” to one owner. The farmhouse, said Zaveta, would be restored to its most “historically plausible” state.

He anticipated selling each of the 12 units for approximately $1.5 million. No potential pricing for the farmhouse and barn units was given. More than a third of the property would be permanent open space, said Zaveta.

The custom builder said he would not be making money from buying the land, but from the building of the homes.

“This is a responsible level of development,” said Zaveta.

Currently the land is zoned Industrial 2, with a wide variety of permitted uses ranging from a nursery or farm to a school, college or university, a public library or museum, government building or wind energy facility, among others.

A housing development would require a zoning change as well as potential waivers. One would be to use aerial photographs to show existing features of the property and another to use Belgian block curbing. Additional waivers may be sought if the project moves to the land development phase, Zaveta noted.

A similar Zaveta project, Town’s Edge, recently opened on Lower State Road in the township. Like Town’s Edge, the proposed project would have residents’ parking under the homes and general parking in the rear. Garage areas are heated and air conditioned and include electric charging stations.

Homes include small balconies that, Zaveta said, “are versions of balconies on our larger homes.” An exercise facility is on site.

Several residents from the nearby Doylestown Hunt neighborhood asked about light pollution and traffic. Zaveta said a traffic study would be done, if the project moves forward and that keeping lighting confined to the site would be a priority.

Pledging to work with neighboring property owners, Zaveta said, “If you have a concern, I have a concern.”

To a round of applause, one resident suggested creating a partnership that could preserve the land and make it a permanent park.

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