Current and Upcoming Projects
I’ve included summaries of some of the bigger projects that the township will be addressing in the coming months. The election in November will determine two of the five supervisors likely to rule on these issues. It is important for voters in Schuylkill Township to be familiar with both the issues and the candidates’ stances on the issues.
Proposal for Wawa and retail unit by Whitehorse Road-Phoenixville LLC
The Rte 23 and Whitehorse Road development proposal is the most imminent major project in Schuylkill Township. The township Board of Supervisors has been conducting a hearing over multiple sessions since June of this year. They have heard testimony from Wawa and the property developer on two proposed conditional uses for the lot, which is to include a retail unit (undetermined use) on the southern end and a Wawa facing towards Rte 23 on the northern end of the site. Transcripts of the hearing are available at the township municipal building.
Residents who live in the surrounding area have expressed their concerns over a gas station in such proximity to their homes. There is also concern for nearby businesses which deal in the same trades as Wawa, including breakfast spots and the two gas stations already present at the corner of Rte 23 and Whitehorse. The proposal for the corner lot is currently available on the township website.
Another hearing date has been set for today, September 19th, at 6pm in the Schuylkill Township municipal building. Please attend if you would like to observe the proceedings.
This project is not currently approved, but may make its way through to the development process due to the commercial use designated for the site. Minor variances would be required to build on the site, but they are likely to be considered reasonable within the scope of the project. Currently, township code allows developers to propose convenience stores with gas pumps as accessory units, so they are not subject to a 200-foot setback rule that would typically apply to gas station proposals in the township. I would like to see this section of the code amended to close the loophole used in this proposal.
Convention Center at Valley Forge (formerly the National Christian Conference Center)
The University of Valley Forge will be presenting a proposal for an age-restricted community to the Schuylkill Township planning commission tomorrow, September 20th. This latest proposal will update the current use at the Convention Center at Valley Forge property to reflect the developer’s attempts to address some community concerns. They would decrease the requested number of units on the property by about 20% from the previous iteration with 425 units. It is unclear at this time whether they would still like to include retail on the site.
For more information on the background of the proposal, please see my earlier post on the topic which addresses a petition circulated in February and March 2017 by a neighboring township resident. This is a major project that would require radical rezoning of the property and deviation from both the regional and municipal plans for this district of the township.
Due to the fact that the University of Valley Forge is a motivated seller, this property is likely to be developed in the near future. The proposed high density dwellings would only take up about half of the lot, so we would effectively see about 15 units per acre in the locations of the residential units. However, given the current R-1 zoning, housing density would be limited to about one dwelling per acre without a change in zoning.
High density retirement housing such as this provides a boon for the school district in the form of property taxes without additional burden on the budget, but can drastically change the character of a neighborhood. At this time, it will take a mountain of convincing for me to recommend rezoning of this nature is in the best interests of Schuylkill Township. I will remain open-minded while the developers make their case, but I do not like the idea of setting precedent for rezoning in flagrant disregard of long-term planning for the region and township.
Nolen Properties multi-family units
For residents living in or near neighborhoods such as The Meadows and Powderhorn Knoll, there may be interest in the proposal for the property at the corner of Pawlings Road and Ferry Lane. This project first appeared before the Schuylkill Township planning commission in 2009 as a proposal for about 72 apartments on the 30 acres bordering the Schuylkill River to the east of The Meadows. It also came before the planning commission in 2014-15. I expect to see this project resurrected in the near future as a request to develop the property with 32 townhouses on a similar footprint to the one for the apartment buildings. The township has not had an official request for a presentation slot at any commission meetings yet.