Parkland Press

Monday, December 10, 2018

Board OKs 5 waivers

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 by SUSAN RUMBLE Special to The Press in Local News

After listening to a presentation from Ridge Farm representatives and public comments from 24 individuals, South Whitehall commissioners approved five waiver requests, denied one and tabled another.

The actions were taken Nov. 27 at a special meeting at Springhouse Middle School.

The denied item was a request to allow a 9-1/2 percent grade on the north-south road running through the development between Walbert Avenue and Huckleberry Road.

The township ordinance requires a 6 percent grade for the unnamed street, which is designated a collector road.

The tabled waiver request applies to the proposed right-in, right-out driveway along Walbert Avenue designed to promote convenient access to the commercial section of the project.

Jason Engelhardt, of Langan Engineering, representing developer Kay Builders, asked for a 680-foot separation from the Walbert Avenue/Cedar Crest Boulevard intersection, rather than the 800 feet required by the township.

That driveway would be 500 feet west of a signalized access, providing two gateways to Ridge Farm along Walbert Avenue.

After returning from a brief executive session, board President Christina “Tori” Morgan reported South Whitehall staff, the developer and PennDOT would take a further look at the right-in, right-out issue.

Approved waivers, recommended by the planning commission, related to block length, horizontal curves and various street way issues.

Ridge Farm’s proposal covers 190 acres on the east and west sides of Cedar Crest Boulevard between Walbert Avenue and Huckleberry Ridge.

About 700 dwelling units including singles, doubles and apartments; commercial buildings; community clubhouse; village plaza and 16.78 acres of useable open space are planned.

Eighty housing units are set aside as age-restricted.

Regarding the waiver request for a steeper grade, public comment focused on safety and upholding the township ordinance.

John Chaya, of Huckleberry Road commented.

“Why have a SALDO [subdivision and land development ordinance] if we’re not going to follow it?” Chaya asked. “Picture children on a school bus on a snowy road on a 9-1/2 percent slope.

“The township could be subject to a lawsuit. Is this a legacy you want to leave to people in the future?”

David Burke, of Buck Trail Road, also noted his objection.

“This would set a dangerous precedent for all future developers,” Burke told the board. “We could see mischief in the future.”

Jacob Roth, a 16-year old junior at Parkland High School, expressed concerns on the impact the large development would have on the township.

He said South Whitehall has been his family’s home for generations, and he would like to come back to live there after completing his education but has concerns about issues such as safety for children.

Roth said the township is firm in enforcing ordinances for property owners but appears to bend the rules in favor of a select few, allegedly granting leeway to developers.

Roth received praise from speakers who came after him and was hailed as a positive influence in the future of the township.

Increased traffic from the development was mentioned by several residents.

Kay Clement, who recently moved from Louisiana to South Whitehall, said she has already found back roads to avoid the main ones which are too congested.

She also said other developers might want the same waivers in the future.

Morgan said the next step is the closer examination of the right-in, right-out driveway along Walbert Avenue.

Although it is not known when the Ridge Farm plan will next appear on the agenda, Morgan advised residents to watch for published public notices.