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Souderton residents learn of plans for former high school site

By Mark Reccek, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 25 2014 06:07:38 AM CDT
Souderton school board 3-24-14
SOUDERTON, Pa. -

Redevelopment plans for the site of the former Souderton Area High School were presented to borough residents Monday during a special Souderton Borough Council meeting.

The land, amounting to 40 acres, is located on the edge of the borough, bordering County Line Road, East Broad and East Chestnut streets and School Lane.

Twenty acres of the land is located in Hilltown Township, Bucks County, and would be sold to the developer.

Borough Manager P. Michael Coll presented the plans to the community, which includes mixed use redevelopment of the site, various residential and commercial units and a hotel.

"We were trying to work mixed use zoning," Coll said.

According to Coll, the first phase of the project will include two buildings of stacked townhouses along East Chestnut Street and Town Lane Road. Additional stacked homes along Chestnut Street will be built during a later phase of the project

"They look like townhomes," Coll said. "A number of them have gone under agreement."

Initially, developer Tim Hendricks, of builder T.H. Properties, Harleysville, was to provide a formal presentation, but he never attended the meeting. He is the developer of the redevelopment project.

Also planned are four and five story mixed use buildings. The upper floors would include residential condominiums.

"We would like to see a little more office use on the second floors," Coll said.

Resident Dennis Haupert questioned council on its reasoning for developing five story buildings.

"What are you trying to build?" he asked. "Are we a little town or are we trying to look like downtown Philly?"

Coll said the borough needs to further work with the developer on issues pertaining to zoning.

"We need to see if there is a reason to amend zoning ordinances or if the plan needs to be revised," Coll said.

Coll also said the borough is seeking to limit the amount of space devoted to residential. According to current plans, 73 percent is set aside for residential, 20 percent commercial and 7 percent is reserved for a hotel.

"What we need to understand is, what is the appropriate mix and how best to control that mix," Coll said.

Resident Marilyn Derstine encouraged council to make provisions in the plan for parks and family use.

Coll said the borough also has to work on traffic patterns and issues regarding water drainage.

Resident Joe Rydzewski expressed concerns over the impact of vehicular traffic.

"It is very disconcerting we are going to populate that area very densely and we don't have the proper traffic flow," he said.

Coll added the current plan generally falls in line with a previous plan developed by a consultant.

Council President Brian Goshow told the audience, council is generally supportive of the plan.

"We are nowhere near approval yet," Coll stressed.

Coll said the borough hopes demolition of the high school occurs this year.

The project is expected to be complete in 2017.

Also during the meeting, council appointed Daniel Houser to fill a vacancy through December 31, 2015. Houser will replace former Councilman Steven Toy who recently resigned to assume a position in the borough as code enforcement officer.