By John Chambless

Staff Writer

A boarded-up model home that has been the only landmark for the proposed Wyndemere development in Franklin Township will soon be refurbushed and surrounded by new construction. Wilkinson Builders, based in Toughkenamon, has purchased the property and will be putting up new homes priced from $300,000 to $435,000 along Church Hill Road, finally bringing a resolution to a vacant site that has languished for more than five years.

At the June 19 meeting of the Franklin Township Board of Supervisors, a representative from Wilkinson Builders and attorney John Jaros, representing Beneficial Mutual Savings Bank, presented a revised site plan for Wyndemere.

The development was initially marketed by Heritage Homes Group for 40 home sites, but bankruptcy and a foreclosure put the community on hold while the model home sat empty, falling prey to vandals. A gate sits across the access road from Church Hill Road.

Beneficial owned the subdivision that was approved in June 2003 for 40 lots. "In 2006, the plan was amended and home septic systems took the place of centralized sewer system," Jaros explained to the board.

In December 2011, the bank and the township formally agreed to modifications to the plan that complied with current open space requirements. "Essentially what was agreed to was the elimination of 11 lots from the originally approved plan, and converting them to open space," Jaros said. "There was also an agreement to add a walking trail through the subdivision. And then there was a hiatus from December 2011 until now, when the bank was trying to sell the property."

Jaros asked the board to approve having current board chairman John Auerbach sign the declaration that was put together in December 2011, with a few minor changes that did not require a whole new plan being created.

Construction will be divided into two phases. Wilkinson will start on the first phase soon, with settlement planned for the end of June. The model home will likely be demolished.

"The area has been kind of blighted, abandoned for a long time. It's always been a problem for the township," Auerbach said.

"Phase one is where the streets are already built out, they already exist," said supervisor Paul Overton. "The lots meet the current requirements for size but the whole plan had to meet open space requirements. I thought it was a good compromise to allow them to build the houses on the lots where the streets were already built. There was no need to go in and tear up streets. ... The bank gets to sell to somebody who can begin to build immediately on phase one, and then on phase two, they come back and submit a plan that can be recorded in the courthouse. I think it's a great compromise."

The board voted unanimously in favor of the signing, allowing Wyndemere to, at long last, move forward.