Newtown Township

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> The Board of Supervisors are expected to meet in executive session in the next few weeks to discuss a possible settlement of the proposed Arcadia Green housing development project.

Arcadia has submitted at least three different plans to the township for the development of a 22.5 acre site off of Buck Road just feet away from the busy intersection of Buck Road (Route 532) and the Newtown Bypass (Route 332).

All three were denied by the supervisors following contentious hearings. At issue was whether the proposed development would create serious traffic safety issues because the service road that would access the new development is too close to the busy Newtown Bypass intersection about 100 feet away.

“They have submitted a plan that looks to us a lot better than what we’ve seen before,” Solicitor Dave Sander told the supervisors earlier this month. “But we do need, as a matter of settlement of litigation, to review that as a board and ultimately take action on during a public meeting to enter into a settlement agreement if that’s the board’s pleasure.”

Under the most recent proposal submitted in June 2018, Arcadia Land Company proposed building 76 units consisting of 23 single-family detached houses and 53 single-family attached townhomes, which is less than the 85 housing units that were proposed under a previous application which was denied in December 2017 after a lengthy hearing process.

According to the township’s land-use ordinance, the site, which is zoned R-2 residential, is permitted to have roughly four units per acre, therefore allowing a maximum of 87 homes.

Under Arcadia’s second Planned Residential Development (PRD) application, which the supervisors had unanimously rejected in December 2017, the company had wanted to construct 59 townhouses and 26 single-family homes on 27.6 acres.

Reworking their plans after that denial, the company submitted its third tentative PRD application in June 2018 which required that the supervisors again hold public hearings on the matter and render a decision in a specific timeframe.

Under the PRD process, which is permitted by state law, the township’s normal planning and zoning channels are bypassed. It gives the supervisors sole authority to approve a development plan in an expedited manner while allowing developers to fast-track their projects.

Arcadia, which owns the two R-2-zoned parcels, wants to build the homes behind the Newtown Reformed Church, which adjoins the property.

Currently, the church, as well as three homes, use the township-dedicated service road which would also access the planned development proposed to be built behind the church property.

The 2018 plan calls for the townhouse garages to be in the rear accessible by a back alley, something which the developer said will give a cleaner look.

The units will also have 18-foot wide driveways to allow for two vehicles to park side-by-side, according to Robert Cunningham, Arcadia’s engineer.

Public water and sewer would also be hooked up.

More than 200 feet of buffered woodlands would separate the proposed homes from the neighboring residential communities of Newtown Crossing and Eagle Ridge.

According to Arcadia president Jason Duckworth, the development would include: a dog park, nearly six-acres of undeveloped open space and a community vegetable garden. In addition there would be sidewalks on both sides of the street, as well as a roughly half-mile of “walkable” community trails.

The key issue during the often times contentious hearings was whether the proposed development would create serious traffic safety issues because the service road that would access the new development is too close to the busy Newtown Bypass intersection about 100 feet away.

In previous rounds of PRD hearings in the fall of 2017, residents from the adjoining Newtown Crossing, Eagle Ridge and Liberty Square communities were not only upset about the loss of open space and increased traffic, they also had opposed plans to tear down a home on an existing cul-de-sac in Newtown Crossing so that an exit-only road could be built for the proposed development.

That High Street exit route was later scrapped and Arcadia is currently renting the house that it bought there.

Under the latest application, the site would still use an existing township-owned service road that parallels the Bypass as a right-in/right-out access onto Buck Road. Arcadia would upgrade the service road. Also, a left-turn into the service road from Buck Road is still proposed.

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