NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> The scheduled Jan. 22 public hearing for Toll Brothers condition-use application to build 41 high-end luxury homes off of Route 413 will be rescheduled to Feb. 12, according to township manager Micah Lewis.
At the Jan. 8 supervisors’ meeting, Lewis told the board that the developer has requested the short-term extension, which the supervisors are expected to routinely grant at their next meeting on Jan. 22.
After the continuance is approved, the township manager said that the planning commission will weigh in on the conditional-use request plan at its Feb. 4 regular meeting, with the supervisors conducting the mandated public hearing at their regular Feb. 12 session.
Both meetings are anticipated to be well-attended by neighboring residents opposed to the project.
Toll wants to build the units on 152 acres off of Route 413 (Durham Road) and Twinning Bridge Road adjoining the municipal complex and All Saints Cemetery.
Originally, the conditional-use hearing had been scheduled for the Dec. 11 supervisors’ meeting, but was continued until Jan. 22 at Toll Brothers’ request.
The board had voted 5-0 to grant that first extension.
At the December supervisors’ meeting, several area residents, who had concerns about the project, had shown up to complain that they did not receive sufficient notice about the hearing’s original date, as required under the state municipal planning code, or had gotten no mailed notice at all.
The township manager said that notices about any public hearings must be sent to property owners within 500 feet of a planned development, according to Newtown Township regulations.
At the time, Lewis told the residents that he would ensure such notifications were sent out concerning the rescheduled Jan. 22 hearing, no matter if the cost of the mailings were to be paid by the township or the developer.
Now nearby homeowners will have to receive new notices of a Feb. 12 conditional-use public hearing.
The property, which is zoned Conservation Management (CM), borders Durham Road to the east, Twinning Bridge Road to the north and east, Devonshire Meadows to the west, the Newtown Township Municipal Complex to the west and All Saints Cemetery to the south.
The size of the proposed development is considerably reduced from the original plans for the site.
Initially Toll Brothers had wanted to build 173 new high-end homes in a variety of styles on the property, which was owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and was originally envisioned to be part of the cemetery.
In September 2018, the developer presented a conceptual plan to the supervisors during a regular board meeting.
That proposal would have required the supervisors to amend the CM zoning district to allow the use.
More than 50 residents from surrounding developments attended that meeting expressing their opposition.
To keep traffic off of Twinning Bridge Road, the original plan had called for building a new 1,200-foot single-access road through the cemetery to connect with Route 413 and Wrights Road, something which many neighbors had labeled “ridiculous.”
But this past October, Toll had amended its application, as well as downsized the number of proposed homes for the property.
A new plan was submitted to the township, which now calls for only 41 single-family luxury homes to be built on the parcel, and would still contain considerable open space, according to Toll.
Under the new application, two access roads would instead be located on Twinning Bridge Road.
The township’s zoning requires conditional-use approval because Toll wants to use a “cluster” option when designing the property.
A township zoning change is not needed for the new proposal because it would be a “by-right use” allowed under current residential zoning.
An on-site wastewater treatment facility is also proposed.
However, at its Jan. 7 meeting, the planning commission told Toll Brothers that the sewer plant’s design is somewhat outdated, and should be brought up to current specifications in case the Newtown Joint Municipal Authority ever has to take over its operation, according to planning commission chairman Allen Fidler.
Meanwhile, the developer has submitted a second plan calling for a minor subdivision, which would reportedly consolidate several parcels, some of which Toll would keep with the remainder retained by the Archdiocese.
Even if Toll does receive the conditional-use approval, all final development plans would still have to go through the regular land use and subdivision process before the planning commission and board of supervisors.