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Residents turn up heat on Solebury supervisors


The Solebury supervisors felt the heat Tuesday night and it wasn’t from the stifling temperature outside.

It came from the standing-room-only crowd of 200-plus people who crammed into the upstairs meeting room and spilled down the stairway of the municipal building to say they didn’t want the board to create a mini-city cum theme park along the Route 202 corridor.

Supervisor Chair Mark Baum Baicker assured the gathering that the the draft concept plan discussed in June has no board support.

“People say the plan is dead – the plan was never alive,” he told the people at the special session arranged get public input on development of the Route 202 corridor.

“Be assured that we are not going ahead with what was presented in June. In fact, we want to continue hearing all of the wishes and concerns of the community, he added.”

He said an additional input session would likely be held in September in a larger room.

Baum Baicker told the audience that “if you want to say the plan was the worst thing you ever saw, we already know that – let someone else speak. ... We’re all on the same side.”

Three former supervisors – Paul Cosdon, Jim Searing and Helen Tai – offered their opinions.

Cosdon said the June plan of housing, hotels, stores, parking, etc., “was 180 degrees wrong” and a clear message to developers that Solebury is open for development. This has no place in our township.” He also questioned the capacity of the school system and the aquifer to handle such a project.

Tai noted the plan did not reflect the township’s comprehensive plan and cautioned the township has to be careful that it “is truly reflective of the community.”

Searing wondered if the township couldn’t find a way to buy some of the property along Route 202 for future municipal use or non-use “to protect the rural character” of the township.

Phil Johnson, a farmer and chairman of the township’s Land Preservation Committee, said, “I think you will have some development on 202, but not the depth as shown (on the June sketch plan).” He said his committee wants to have a part in planning for the future of Route 202 area.

Dorothy Downie of Solebury said, “Let’s not rush into the arms of developers without getting advice from the experts.” Referencing the May 25 death of Solebury conservationist Malcolm Crooks, whose legacy was honored earlier at meeting, she said, “It’s ironic. We’re considering development – everything Malcolm was against.”

Another resident pointed out that the median price for a house in Solebury is $600,000, so there is a need for more affordable housing.

Other residents noted:

– Route 202 “is in need of some upgrading,” citing the road’s flea market, used car lot, strip mall vacant lots and a sign shop.” This town is too beautiful to do nothing.”

– “I’m glad the board is backing down from the original plan. I encourage my neighbors to stay involved. Penn’s Purchase is dilapidated so I don’t understand why we need more (stores). We will lose our character.”

– “All the benefits go to the developers, all the costs to the residents.”

– “We need to be a little bit courageous” with developers. “Just be smart and in some instances just say ‘no.’ ”