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Richland supervisors side with preservation board on plan update


Cutting back significantly on a proposed expansion of new development area that was recommended by the planning commission, the Richland Township Board of Supervisors has advised its staff to go forward with only one of four sub-areas that were recommended.

The action was taken at the Jan. 3 board of supervisors meeting, as a key part of its guidance for the mandated, every-decade revision of the township’s multi-subject Comprehensive Plan, which is now underway. The cut back was spurred by the Preservation Board, which had noted the township’s current commitment to “stop sprawl and protect farmland and natural areas.”

The Comprehensive Plan process is in the preliminary stage, with draft reviews of the total plan needed from the township, Quakertown-area, and county planning commissions, before presentation for public comment, and then re-submission for final review by them.

After the plan is in place, any needed changes in the township zoning ordinance are then taken up, in a similar review process, and any particular new development must go through the standard preliminary and final land development review process. Adhering to their Comprehensive Plan is a major guideline, though township officials have made special efforts over the years to work closely with developers on individual projects toward maximizing efficiency of those particular approval processes.

The new development sub-area approved for further work by the staff, as described in a memo from the township engineer, “is comprised of approximately 140 parcels. The area is north of West Paletown Road and extends north along South Old Bethlehem Pike, past the intersection of Tollgate Road. The Arbours at Morgan Creek and Renaissance at Morgan Creek border the area to the east and includes the Twin Lakes Development.”

Three sub-areas removed from the list that was unanimously approved by the township planning commission last October include “one parcel located on the southwest corner of N. West End Boulevard and Reservoir Road, bordered by Richland Marketplace to the south and Milford Township to the west; 13 parcels to the west of Richlandtown Borough, with land on both the north and south side of Cherry Road;” and “three parcels located to the south of Richlandtown Borough, with frontage along the south side of Union Road and the north side of E. Pumping Station Road.”

The cut back by the supervisors was spurred by email exchanges with their Preservation Board, whose members also participated in the Jan. 3 discussion of the matter. In the minutes of their Dec. 14 meeting, that group referred to a report on the matter that they submitted last November, which included “comments reflecting our mission; our creation of greenways; the protection of the important farm soils that remain; the importance of protecting sensitive habitat found in Richland, which all have species of concern; as well as what the previous Plan had intended to do: stop sprawl and protect farmland and natural areas.”