The Upper Saucon Township Board of Supervisors conducted a small hearing regarding a proposed zoning ordinance amendment at their meeting on Monday night. The Board referred to the amendment as 141-D for the entire hearing.
The ordinance amendment is being requested by Traditions of America in order to build an Age Qualified Community (AQC). Traditions of America’s Director of Operations, David Biddison, was present at the hearing. Biddison showed a brief video describing daily life at these types of homes and then presented the Board and the audience with a slideshow addressing concerns brought up by residents at the last meeting over a month ago.
According to Biddison, Traditions of America wants to build a 252-home community in a lot located at the northwest corner of Lanark Road and West Hopewell Road. This request, however, is not permitted under the current zoning ordinances of the Township. It is only permitted under an overlay, which is why Traditions of America needed to present this request to the Board. The land is zoned as an R-2 meaning that 80-160 single homes can be built on the 123-acre plot, but as per stated in the overlay, an AQC is permitted if approved by the Board.
Biddison started his presentation off with the history of how Traditions of America landed on the idea of an AQC for this plot of land. He explained that he, his staff, and the Board have met several times over the last year to discuss the plans. Biddison also added that if the Board approved the AQC plan, Traditions of America would be able to donate a 25-acre portion of the land to become a Township park including six ball fields to be used by the general population as well as the Elementary School.
Biddison then addressed residents’ main concerns such as traffic, a fiscal impact, and the storm water system. Biddison compared a Conservation Design, which would allow for 160 homes to be built on the property, to an AQC in several areas of traffic concern. According to Biddison, a study was conducted that showed that there would be a 61% increase in morning peak traffic with a Conservation Design versus an AQC, a 78% increase in evening peak traffic with a Conservation Design, a 35% increase in weekday traffic, and a 137% increase in weekend traffic with a Conservation Design.
“Although there would be more homes with an AQC design, there would be less traffic because these families are not all working or running errands on a daily basis,” said Biddison.
With a Conservation Design plan for the plot, any family at any age can purchase a home in the development, while with an AQC only aging families or elderly couples may purchase a home.
As for the fiscal impact that this development would have on the surrounding community, Biddison said that the AQC would be most financially beneficial for the Township. According to Biddison, the overall annual tax revenue going towards the Township and the School District for a Conservation Design would be around $1,474,300 while with an AQC the annual tax revenue would be closer to $2,691,518.
Biddison then mentioned that in regards to the storm water system that many residents and Board members were concerned with, Traditions of America would be responsible for dealing with any extra storm water that would run off of the property.
“The Township has very strict standards in regards to these regulations and we must adhere to them,” said Biddison. He guaranteed that there would be no excess storm water run off from the development into the surrounding community.
Although Biddison stated that his office has received calls from interested residents in the Township for a move in date, he did not have a confirmed date as to when Traditions of America would begin to break ground on the property. He informed the Board that once they start construction, he predicts that they will be able to move residents into homes within 12-18 months.
After several residents questioned Biddison and voiced their concerns or appreciation to the Board, Vice Chairman John Gilda Jr. called for a motion to approve the zoning ordinance amendment. Board Member Dennis Benner made the motion while fellow Board Member Jack DeMatos seconded the motion. The request was approved with a unanimous vote