By Gina Zotti, Staff Writer
April 10, 2004
SADSBURY -- The building was bigger, but township residents still managed to fill it.
Only, unlike past meetings of the zoning feasibility committee, not all of the opinions offered by the public were in opposition of Arcadia Land Co.s proposed development.
At the end of the nearly four-hour gathering of more than 60 residents at the Sadsburyville Fire Company -- one hour devoted to an informal sort of open house between the developers and the residents in addition to the almost three-hour meeting -- the committee made the recommendation Arcadia had been working toward for almost two years.
The committee voted 6 to 1 in favor of recommending a zoning change, from residential and industrial to a planned residential development overlay, to its board of supervisors and planning commission.
While this recommendation is only the first step in the process, Arcadia developer Jason Duckworth assessed its importance. "This was the biggest hurdle we faced so far," he said.
Committee member Susan Bankert, who voted against making the recommendation, had the same apprehensions as many of the residents who have been protesting Arcadias plans.
"It looks great, but I feel like its too many houses and too many people," she said during the discussion. "Theres no consideration for lowering the numbers? Theres no one else who presented a plan?"
Committee member Donald Cairns addressed that issue in making his closing remarks before the vote.
"My first choice is to leave this piece of property the way it is now, but thats not an option before us. For us to go on a lengthy, extensive study to find a third alternative probably wouldnt suit a group either," he said. "Understanding we are simply a step in the process, I dont make any apologies for voting in favor of this."
The proposed ordinance would allow Arcadia to go forward with its proposed project, called a "traditional neighborhood development."
The by-right zoning currently would allow for an apartment complex with 443 units and 900,000 square feet of industrial space to be built. Arcadias proposal calls for a 461-unit residential development consisting of all for sale single-family homes, townhouses and condominium units.
Prior to Wednesday night, Arcadia had applied to have a conditional-use hearing for the land, even though it has made clear that it was not interested in developing the high-density apartments. Critics of the TND, like resident Tammy Pawling, called that application a "scare tactic" that the developers were using to get the TND to look more appealing.
Resident Vicky Horan said she felt the same pressures. "Why is it that the 443 (apartment units) look like a threat because thats not in the best interest of Arcadia?" she asked.
Duckworth said that if the zoning change was not possible, his company would sell the land to a developer that does specialize in high-density apartments, adding that there was interest out there.
But a group of residents from the Quarry Ridge Community, which neighbors the land at question, expressed their whole-hearted support of the TND plan, saying theyd rather see homes in their back yards than industrial warehouses and apartments.
"If youre renting, who cares? But, if youre buying, you care," said Quarry Ridge resident Frank Aptacy. "Its a great plan, as opposed to industrial. Can you speed up the process?"
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