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New Hanover Considers Waivers on Golf Course Development
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            The size of a proposed community in New Hanover has contracted. A Chester County development company has reduced the number of homes it plans to construct on the site of a golf course in the township.

            Last week, the township's planning commission discussed several issues with the alternative plan for Greens at Gilbertsville including sidewalks, the potential widening of two feeder roads, concerns related to building on hydric soil and water. Manager Jamie Gwynn described the latter as "the elephant in the room."

            The latest sketch plan for the development, submitted by the Artisan Land Company, of Devon, calls for 163 single-family units on a more limited footprint on the property of the Gilbertsville Golf Club, located at 2944 Lutheran Road.

            William E. and William P. Gross own two parcels at that address. They purchased an 87.7-acre parcel in May 1989 that is currently appraised at $1.315 million and zoned C-preferential assessment.

            In October 1994, they spent $188,900 to buy the other property, appraised at $794,940. The parcel is currently zoned C-golf courses, according to the Montgomery County property tax website.

            The original plan, submitted 11 months ago, proposed 297 single-family homes on 221 acres. The number increased to 321 in August.

            The new plan, submitted Feb. 16 and examined last week by the township's planning commission, eliminates any construction south of Minister Creek. It also incorporates a walking trail for the public and two additional school bus stops, according to John Benson, the developer.

            During the March 9 public meeting, the commission members discussed 10 waivers proposed by the developer. They unanimously opposed a request to not widen Lutheran Road. They could not reach a consensus on a request not to widen Reifsnyder Road.

            Member Bill Moyer did not attend the meeting. However, Chairman Rusty Oister informed the audience of his opinion on some of the waiver requests. Before discussing each request with the developer, Oister took a "non-binding straw poll" of the members to form a consensus.

            Two of the four attending members opposed a waiver to forgo the widening of Swamp Picnic Road. The others said they needed more information. Any widening work will include the goal of preserving any existing trees, said Daniel Gray, the commission's engineer.

            All four also opposed a request to install sidewalks on both sides of all streets inside the development. Benson said his firm could install five-foot sidewalks on both sides.

            "It's not a dealbreaker," the developer said.

            Two members rejected a request to build streets that cross over hydric soil. Three others said they needed more information before they could render an opinion. 

            Before construction could commence Benson said his engineers would prove that all the material that has formed under conditions of saturation, flooding or ponding and has no oxygen-the definition of hydric- has been removed.

            All four present members supported a request by the developer to install Belgian block curbing instead of concrete. Oister later said he wanted to hear more from the township's consultants.

            Oister described the developer's plan to draw groundwater from 163 separate wells as a "big bridge to cross."  Benson told the commission that he has received a permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection allowing the development to extract 12 million gallons per month. Aqua Pennsylvania, which provides water in the township, has no plans to connect to the community, according to Jackie Erixxon, who works for the developer.

            "With the current size of the proposal, we're not even close to that number," said the developer, who conceded the issue would be intense.

            However, some residents expressed concerns that several existing wells around the golf course would be adversely impacted. Oister claimed he met with a resident who said water in his well tends to run low when the course is operating.

            Member Matt Cornely reminded Benson that the township has no responsibility to provide water to the development.






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