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Hilltown board hears opposing sides on Lennar development

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Age-restricted residences  
 
Hilltown residents concerned about a large age-restricted residential housing development that a developer wants to build in the township turned out in force for a June 22 public discussion of the plan before the municipality’s board of supervisors.
 
Lennar Construction made its case for why supervisors should grant certain zoning relief that would open the door for the project to be built at the scale that the Miami-headquartered firm desires.
 
Representatives for Lennar Construction have indicated that they’re interested in building 194 units to create the development – called the Venue – in the area of Swartley Road and Route 309 to meet what they say is strong demand for age-restricted housing in the area.
 
Local businessman Wally Rosenthal, owner of Route 309 Furniture & Design, owns the land upon which the development would be built.
 
Without obtaining any zoning relief from Hilltown supervisors, Lennar could build a maximum of 36 homes, officials have said.
 
A community group, Hilltown Friends, opposes the envisioned 194-unit development. A representative for the group, Dale Ott, presented arguments at the hearing on why zoning relief should not be granted.
Residents’ concerns are myriad, ranging from worry over a potential massive increase in traffic and flooding/runoff issues they fear the development will create, to stress on local roadways, infrastructure and more.
 
Both Ott and Lennar had a half-hour each to present. With social distancing restrictions in place because of COVID-19, only a limited number of people who attended the hearing were able to be in the municipal meeting room for the discussion.
 
Supervisor Caleb Torrice, who took time to speak with attending residents about their concerns at the June 22 meeting, said that supervisors expect to vote on the requested zoning relief at their July 27 meeting, which will be open to the public.
 
Torrice noted that supervisors have latitude to do everything from outright reject the requested relief to approve it as requested to approve some degree of relief but with modifications that would lower the number of units allowed from the developer’s hoped-for 194.
 
Even if supervisors grant zoning relief on July 27, that doesn’t mean Lennar would have the green light to build. The developer would then have to go through a potentially lengthy land development approval process with the township, which would involve public hearings before supervisors where residents can raise concerns and question plans.
 
In May, Hilltown’s planning commission issued a recommendation to the board of supervisors that Lennar receive some zoning relief, but caveated its guidance by saying that there should be a lower number of units allowed than what the developer is seeking to build.
 
Hilltown Friends members plan to show up in numbers at the July 27 meeting.
 
“We will need everyone in attendance at the July 27 meeting where the vote will be made,” group leaders said in an email to members.

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