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Richland won’t change zoning for warehouse developer


Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the meeting took place on Monday, not Tuesday.

With three speakers, among dozens of residents present, calling for adherence to their Comprehensive Plan commitment to preserving their township’s rural character, Richland Township’s supervisors rejected a request from a developer for a zoning change to enable the full scale of a 2.2-million -square-foot warehousing proposal for the south end of the Route 309 (West End Boulevard) corridor to go forward to the land development phase.

The unanimous decline by the three supervisors to change seven parcels from rural agricultural (RA) to planned commercial (PC), followed extensive discussion with the developer’s representatives at Monday's board of supervisors meeting.

They then agreed to the developer’s request to go forward with about 600,000 square feet from the proposal that is on parcels that are already zoned PC.

Supervisors voiced concerns about “discrepancies” they saw in traffic impact correspondence between the developer’s and township’s traffic engineers.

Meanwhile, the developer’s representatives emphasized inclusion of a new signalized intersection, road widening, new turning lanes, and a new road in the proposal.

Residents concerned about the potential negative impact on their homes from the part of the proposal that did go forward were assured their concerns would be addressed in the land development phase of the process.

“We need to take a tough position on protecting the south end of our township, especially when it comes to traffic,” noted Supervisor Tim Arnold, while Supervisors Chair Kathie Doyle asked, “why not make a proposal for land that is already designated planned commercial?”

State law requires municipalities to make a variety of zoning types available for development, but allows them leeway regarding where they are located. After the meeting, another resident emphasized the potential impact of the full-scale proposal on the Morgan Creek Watershed, especially including its relationship to Quakertown Swamp, which has been listed as a first priority site in the Bucks County Natural Areas Inventory.

The seven parcels to be kept as zoned RA are along the southwest side of Tollgate Road; South West End Boulevard; Rich Hill Road; and South Old Bethlehem Pike.

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