Perhaps the third time will be a charm.
A planned July 27 hearing on a proposed age-restricted development, The Venue, that’s been at the center of controversy in Hilltown was postponed at the would-be developer’s request.
A hearing slated for July 6 was also put off at the asking of Miami-based Lennar Construction, which wants more time to evaluate potential design alterations to its construction plan.
A new hearing is scheduled before the township board of supervisors for Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. The public meeting is lined up to be held at the municipal building at 13 W. Creamery Road.
Should the hearing proceed, Lennar Construction is expected to make its case to supervisors on why changes should be made to local zoning that would enable the developer to build what’s been proposed as a 174-unit 55-and-older community in the area of Swartley Road and Route 309.
A community group, Hilltown Friends, is adamantly opposed to the development as it has been proposed.
“The community needs to understand that the developer is trying to rewrite our township ordinance to fit their specific needs – and that will have detrimental ramifications for the community,” Dale Ott, a leader with Hilltown Friends, told the Herald after the most recent hearing postponement. “The developer wants to increase the housing density to more than four times what is allowed in that residential zoning district.”
Ott and others believe amending zoning to allow for the development Lennar wants would set a dangerous precedent that other developers could exploit to stuff more houses onto properties than local ordinances allow.
Hilltown Friends is also concerned the development could cause road-clogging traffic, excessive stormwater runoff that leads to flooding, environmental hazards, intrusive lighting, the need to hire more police officers, and decreased property values for current residents who live near the development.
In a 4-1 vote on June 20, the Hilltown Planning Commission recommended that supervisors grant Lennar’s desired zoning relief, provided certain conditions are met. Those include lowering the number/density of units to around 150 total.
Still, it’s ultimately up to the three-person board of supervisors on what, if any, zoning relief Lennar might receive. Furthermore, to actually build, the developer would have to go through a land development approval process, in which fully-engineered plans would be reviewed by supervisors, township staff and other agencies.
Lennar would need land development approval from supervisors – a process that can potentially take years.