LOWER MAKEFIELD >> The Board of Supervisors, meeting via teleconference call on May 7, voted 4 to 0 with one abstention to approve preliminary as final plans for 11 single-family attached townhomes at the site of Marrazzo’s Manor Lane Florist.
Under the approved plans, the 2.88 acre garden center at Pine Grove and Yardley-Morrisville Roads in the southern end of the township will be redeveloped with two clusters of homes built by DeLuca Homes.
The development will be served by a single access entrance and exit on Sutphin Road and an emergency-only access point on Yardley-Morrisville Road.
The development also will be built with a seepage pit - an underground stone dry well that will collect the stormwater runoff generated throughout the site, increase water quality before infiltrating it back into the ground. In addition, an overflow and discharge pipe will direct flows to the north into an existing storm system in the Yardley-Morrisville Road.
The redevelopment of the site, said land use attorney Ed Murphy, will eliminate a non-conforming use and replace it with a use that will match the surrounding zoning and will dramatically reduce the traffic impact on the area.
Last fall, DeLuca sought and received relief from the township’s zoning hearing board to develop the R-2 zoned site with higher density townhomes, matching the zoning of the neighboring Sutphin Pines development.
Sutphin Pines, which has about 98 townhouses, is also zoned R-2. But that developer had received a waiver under a court-ordered agreement in the late 1970s to build high-density housing.
Under the R-2 zoning, three to four single family homes would have been allowed “by right” on the garden center property, which is under an agreement of sale with DeLuca Homes.
“Recognizing that the existing site is nonconforming, our goal was to design a plan that would effectively re-create the same design and density that exists today at Sutphin Pines,” said Murphy.
Sutphin Pines initially raised issues with density, building height, noise, privacy and landscaping, particularly with regard to its community pool, which is located along the shared property line.
To answer those concerns, the developer reworked the project, shifting the homes further away from the pool and enhancing the property line with extensive landscaping to buffer the new development from its neighbors.
“After a series of meetings with the Sutphin HOA, we believe that we have satisfactorily addressed those issues,” Murphy told the supervisors this week.
According to Murphy, efforts also were made on a marketing level not to compete with the price point of Sutphin Pines townhomes, which also was a concern raised during discussions with the Sutphin HOA.
The new homes will start in the neighborhood of $600,000 for 2700 square feet of living space, including a two car garage, three bedrooms, full basement and two-and-a-half baths. Conversely, homes in Sutphin Pines are in the upper $300K to lower $400K range.
During public comment on the motion, resident Brian McNamara called the project “a major rezoning” and asked that action be tabled until an in-person meeting of the board of supervisors.
“This is the wrong project and the wrong size for this lot,” he said.
Construction of the new development is expected to start as early as July or August, according to developer Vince DeLuca.
Plans were first proposed for the property in late 2016 initially proposing 17 single-family townhouses to be built on the long-time site of Marrazzo’s Manor Lane Florist.
According to the garden center’s website, Dan Marrazzo began his greenhouse business in 1947 when he was only 15 years old. At his family home on 1 Manor Lane, he started growing vegetable plants and cut flowers for the wholesale trade.
Over the years, Dan and his wife, Carmela, built up the business to include retail and eventually a floral department.
In 1984, the Marrazzo’s moved their growing business to its current location at 1301 Yardley Road, which had been a nursery since 1767.
The company is now in its third generation with Mike and Nancy and their sons, Mike Jr. and Chris. The Marrazzo family and their garden center have been a fixture in the township for decades.