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Planning Commission Recommends Waivers for Pennsburg Development
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Pennsburg's Planning Commission voted unanimously last week to recommend the approval of 10 waivers for a proposed development in the borough. Several were intended to minimize the impact on the existing regulated stream channel and riparian corridor at 704 East Montgomery Avenue.

            The three-person panel approved each waiver with individual votes for an updated version of a proposal to construct 50 units on a 5.05-acre parcel. One requires a Telford developer to fund the construction of man-made wetlands.

            The project would help the municipality satisfy its pollutant reduction plan as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, according to borough engineer John Rundy. He said it should also help mitigate flooding issues in that segment of the community.

            On Nov. 21, an Upper Gwynedd attorney representing Tim Hendricks – the managing member of Hendricks Group Developers, LLC – appeared before the commission. Sean Cullen asked the three members – newly appointed Chair Kristoffer Squiccimara and Vice Chair Mayor Charles Shagg, along with council Member Wayne Stevens – to recommend the waiver request to council.

            Susan Rice, the engineer representing the developer, went through each of the requests for Hendrick's proposal to build two single units and 48 townhouses, the project described by municipal officials as the Deerfield development, on the former Kline property.

She identified each of the requests, including the permitted lot sizes for each of the single homes and the townhouses, the location of sidewalks, the width of proposed cul-de-sacs, details on a tree line, and the required amount of an open space dedication.

            According to Rundy, the developer has agreed to turn the area of a pipe – visible from Montgomery Avenue – into a meandering creek. He said it would save the borough hundreds of thousands of dollars.

            "It's a unique opportunity," Rundy said after the meeting. "The area will look more natural."

            Several of the waivers are intended to reduce the impact on the regulated stream and to minimize disturbance within the riparian corridor. They included allowing cul-de-sac streets to exceed 500 feet, permitting a 40-foot wide right-of-way and a 32-foot wide cartway instead of 50 feet and 36 feet, respectively; the reduction of minimum radii for local access street centerlines from 150 to 100 feet, a reduction of the intersection spacing of a collector street and Mensch Dam Road from 400 to 200 feet as well as a right-of-way radius from 60 to 45 feet and a paving radius from 48 to 40 feet and implementing a sidewalk on one side of a cul-de-sac street, including a walking path on the dwelling side of its southern portion.

            The commission also voted to approve a waiver granting the developer permission to dedicate 121,622 feet of land to open space rather than the required 1,480,000. Additionally, it approved a waiver allowing the developer to plant trees without meeting the minimum spacing requirements due to issues of utility locations, driveways and easements.

            The members approved the tree planting waiver with a list of species that included maple, honey locust, red oak and white oak. Rice agreed to remove the Ginkgo from the list at the request of Shagg.

            Cullen, from the firm of Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin, PC, said Berks Homes has expressed interest in building the structures. Representatives from the business, based in Mohnton, have attended staff meetings with Pennsburg officials.

            Stevens proposed that the developer surround the community with a chain link fence. Rice bristled at the suggestion. According to Shagg, the idea was to protect property owners on both sides.

            Stevens also asked that the developer provide a privacy fence to minimize the impact on some neighboring property owners.






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