Plan

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> The scheduled Jan. 22 public hearing for Toll Brothers conditional use application is expected to be well-attended by neighboring residents opposed to the project.

Toll wants to build 41 single-family luxury homes on 152 acres off of Route 413 (Durham Road) and Twinning Bridge Road adjoining the municipal complex and All Saints Cemetery.

The conditional-use hearing had been originally scheduled for the Dec. 11 supervisors’ meeting, but was continued until next month at Toll’s request.

The board voted 5-0 to grant the extension.

Several area residents, who had concerns about the project, had shown up at the meeting complaining that they did not receive sufficient notice, as required under the state municipal planning code, or had gotten notice in the mail.

Notices about any public meetings must be sent to property owners within 500 feet of a planned development, according to township regulations.

At the meeting, township manager Micah Lewis said that he would ensure that the notices are sent out concerning the Jan. 22 hearing, no matter if the cost of the mailings are to be paid by the township or the developer.

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.

However, the current proposed development is considerably downsized from the original plans for the property.

Originally, Toll had wanted to build 173 new high-end homes in a variety of styles on the site, 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 called for building a new road through the cemetery to connect with Route 413 and Wrights Road.

During last year’s meeting, Mike Horbal of Newtown Grant blasted that concept, questioning why the township would even consider a zoning amendment to the property.

Horbal had called the proposed 1,200-foot single-access road “insane,” and referred to the overall plan as “abusive” to the both the township and the neighbors.

But Toll Brothers has now amended its application, as well as decreased the number of proposed homes for the property.

In mid-October, the developer submitted a new application to the township, which calls for 41 single-family luxury homes to be built on the parcel and considerable open space.

Conditional-use approval is needed because Toll wants to use a “cluster” option when designing the property.

A township zoning change is not required 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 reportedly proposed.

As part of the new plan, two access roads are instead proposed for Twinning Bridge Road, and not through the cemetery.

At the same time, the developer has also 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 the developer does receive the conditional-use approval, it would still have to go through the regular land use and subdivision process before the planning commission and board of supervisors.

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