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Proposed development again raises concerns in Hilltown Township


A local business owner and a Florida-headquartered developer are resuming efforts to build an age-restricted residential community in Hilltown – a fact that again has some residents lining up in opposition.

Representatives for Miami-headquartered Lennar Construction appeared before Hilltown’s Planning Commission on Wednesday, May 19, to discuss a sketch plan that officials said calls for constructing 174 units in the area of Swartley Road and Route 309.

The envisioned community, which could consist of twins, townhouses and single-family homes, would be for people age 55 and older, according to the still-being-created full development proposal.

Hilltown officials said that Lennar plans to use recommendations made by the township planning commission to revise and further hone the plan.

Members of a local community group called Hilltown Friends are opposed to the development. According to the group, a couple dozen people attended the planning commission meeting in a show of opposition to the plan.

They’re concerned that the Venue, as the would-be development has been dubbed, could lead to road-clogging traffic, excessive stormwater runoff that could cause flooding, environmental hazards, intrusive lighting, the need to hire more police officers, and decreased property values for current residents who live near the development, among other issues.

“This is a proposal that is clearly about creating the highest density of houses to create the highest profit margin for an out-of-state-developer,” Hilltown Friends opined to the Herald. “This type of approach to development is inappropriate and…is not a good plan for the township or its residents.”

Local businessman Wally Rosenthal, owner of Route 309 Office Furniture & Design, is an owner of the land upon which the potential development would reside. Due to local zoning on the property, the developer would need what’s known as conditional use zoning approval from Hilltown’s Board of Supervisors to be able to construct the Venue as it has been envisioned, said Township Manager Lorraine Leslie.

Leslie noted that such a request has not yet been submitted to supervisors as the developer is still building out the new plan. Any vote by supervisors on such a request would be held at a public meeting in which residents could provide their perspective. No meeting is currently scheduled.

In 2020, an earlier version of the Venue was hotly debated in Hilltown and came before supervisors for a vote on conditional use approval. A motion was made to approve, but did not receive a second, meaning the motion died.

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