Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Results of Zoning Hearing

Just a short entry with some notes and the result of the Zoning Hearing last night regarding the proposed development of 1529 Dekalb.

The board's vote was split, 2 to 2, so no approval was given. Progressive Housing Ventures will go back next month with a modified plan, possibly with less units. The next meeting, I believe, will be on Dec 15th.

The audience wasn't allowed to view the plan during the hearing. That's never happened before. In past hearings I've been to, even if all the developer had was a poster on an easel (and even if the developer was Ms. Peck), they always voluntarily turned it at the beginning to give the audience a look. Last night Ms. Peck told the audience we could look at the plans at the end of the hearing. I wish the board had instructed her to let the audience see the plan even temporarily, but they didn't.

Here's what I got from her presentation without seeing it. She plans to build 34 units with 1-car garages underneath them. Some of the units will have 3 bedrooms for families or condo-owners who want to have a roommate to defray costs, but she's not providing extra parking for those units. The frontages on Dekalb and Willow would be 25 feet. On either side of each unit, 10 foot distance, though balconies and porches will bump out from that (the houses next door on the Freedley side will have no more than maybe 12 feet from their walls to the development walls, less where there are balconies and porches) . The total height of the units will be no more than 35 feet.

One main problem I saw was that Ms. Peck is asking for an increase in allowed impervious surfaces (surfaces that don't absorb water) from the 65% allowed by zoning to 75%, which means 75% of all the stormwater runoff that now soaks into that grass filled basin will be drained away from the site. This is one of the highest points in town, so all that extra water (we're talking thousands of gallons in a NORMAL rainstorm) will head downhill to the creeks. Those of us who live at the bottom of that hill, like me, already have enough problems with flooding during a heavy rain.

One thing that really angered me last night was that Ms. Peck's lawyer asked that negative comments be stricken from the record if the commenter didn't live in the neighborhood adjacent to the proposed development. This after Ms. Peck stated in her testimony that she intended to use public funding (ie, our tax dollars). The person who was commenting at the time was from East Norriton, but he rightly pointed out that he was a taxpayer in the NASD district and had every right to speak on the matter. The Zoning chair agreed and I thank her for that.

I'll cover some other points about this development in the coming weeks.

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