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Hilltown nixes controversial 194-unit senior development

A plan to build a large-scale age-restricted development in Hilltown will not be going forward.
Lennar Construction, the would-be developer, needed the Hilltown Board of Supervisors to approve a rezoning measure that would have allowed for higher density housing in order to proceed with the development plan.
Lennar did not win that approval. At the Aug. 24 supervisors’ meeting, Supervisor Jack McIlhinney put forward a motion in support of the rezoning measure. However, he did not receive a second on the motion from either of the other two supervisors – Jim Groff and Caleb Torrice. As such, the motion died – and with it the prospect of rezoning approval on the particular proposed plan.
“At this point, the plan is dead,” said Torrice after the meeting.
A crowd of residents gathered outside the municipal building awaiting word. When it was announced that the rezoning proposal didn’t receive support, there was a loud eruption of cheers.
During the course of public hearings that played out over months, a local citizens group called Hilltown Friends adamantly opposed the rezoning measure. They felt the high density of housing that it would allow would increase traffic congestion, hit Hilltown with higher infrastructure and policing costs, create runoff water issues and more.
Without obtaining zoning relief, Lennar could build a maximum of 36 homes at the proposed development site, which lies in the area of Swartley Road and Route 309, officials have said.
For much of the hearings, Lennar discussed a desire to build 194 units. At the Aug. 24 meeting, representatives indicated that Lennar would be willing to scale the project back to 174 units in an effort to show good faith and compromise. Residents who’ve opposed the development still felt that was far too many homes.
Even if Lennar were successful in its bid for zoning relief, the company still would have to earn land development approval from supervisors – a likely lengthy process that would have played out in public hearings.