Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Two Meetings: Two Bad Development Deals

Two meetings tonight, both dealing with bad development decisions for Norristown. So go stock up on storm supplies early or let that wait until tomorrow. Pick a meeting and go to it. It's important.

At 6 pm, in the Community Room of the Human Resources Building at Dekalb and Fornance, Linda Christian is holding a 3rd District Town Hall Meeting where representatives from Einstein will present their plan to demolish Montgomery Hospital, despite the fact that the building is a candidate for the National Register of Historic Places. Bad enough Einstein left us without a major medical facility in Norristown, and took a lot of doctor's offices with them, limiting many residents physical access to healthcare. Bad enough they took a load of jobs and businesses out of our community. Now they want to demolish the hospital building, too, which is an architectural asset to the town.

The demolition will cause other headaches as well, like the proposals of Cingular and T-Mobile to place cell towers at the corner of Fornance and Powell, and on the roof of the parking garage.  Not to mention the mess in the neighborhood during demolition. The demolition seems to be planned to occur before the new development of senior housing has even been proposed before Planning, so if for some reason Altman Group doesn't get funding or backs out for any other reason (how many times has THAT happened in town?), we'll end up with another huge vacant lot.

So you can come protest the demolition of the hospital. Or if you'd prefer, go to the Planning meeting at 7 pm at Municipal Hall. Remember the development at 1202 Dekalb? A proposed 24 units on a mere two-thirds of an acre? If you don't remember the season finale of this development's appearances before Planning and Council last October, you can refresh your memory by glancing over the Diary entry "Development, with Generous Donations from People Like You," from October 2, 2013.

In it, developer Sarah Peck told Council that she could reduce the density of her development to 18 units and change the driveway to make a better parking/traffic flow on Basin Street if she could only raise another $200,000. Council proposed giving her $150,000 of our tax money to her if she could raise the other $50,000.

Sensible people in town thought, instead of this elaborate extortion racket, that Peck ought to build one 6-unit building at a time, and sell those units first, to finance the rest of the construction. But sensible people are rarely listened to in Norristown where development is concerned.

Anyway, Sarh Peck comes up before Planning tonight with her Final Land Development plan for 1202 Dekalb. The agenda states that she's seeking "approval to construct three structures with eight dwellings in each for a total of 24 dwelling units."

So what happened to her plan to reduce density? Her website still shows the original plans with the original bad parking configuration. More importantly, what happened to our $150,000? Was she unable to raise the rest of it and therefore we get to keep our money? Or did she somehow finagle the funds out of Council, yet still intends to build the full, overcrowded mess?

I'd be interested to learn, but with 2 meetings only an hour apart, I doubt I'll make it to both.

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