Residents pack meeting about Route 82 development
● By J. Chambless
By John Chambless
Neighbors of a proposed 46-home
community on Route 82 turned out in force at the March 5 meeting of
the East Marlborough Board of Supervisors, filling the meeting room
and foyer of the township building to capacity.
The community is planned for the east side of Route 82, south of Route 926, where Willow Green Nurseries now operates. The nursery plans to stay on the site in a smaller form, with the homes added in a loop configuration. There is a driveway intersection planned for Route 82, as well as an access road to the south that will funnel traffic to Chalfont Road.
Andrew Semon, division president for developer Toll Brothers, was at the meeting to discuss revisions to the preliminary plan for the community, but the neighbors wanted to talk about traffic.
Based on a traffic study by a firm hired by Toll Brothers, a left-turn lane is not planned for the development's entrance, drawing criticism from several neighbors. The study was conducted in July, so did not account for traffic backups that are common on Route 82 when students are arriving at Unionville High School and Patton Middle School.
A neighbor who lives across Route 82 from the proposed community said he has to wait five or ten minutes to get onto the main road in the mornings when school is in session, and adding 46 homes will make the traffic even worse. Residents were upset that the developer planned to allow traffic from the new community through their streets. “Half of the development will be going through Chalfont,” one resident said.
Another neighbor said, “We simply don't have the infrastructure to do this. We don't see any reasonable pedestrian access along Route 82, either. It's a 40-mile-per-hour, heavily traveled road.”
Citing the students who will be walking to school on a proposed sidewalk from the new community to the intersection of Route 82 and Route 926, one neighbor said, “To basically quadruple the pedestrian traffic along that road is irresponsible.”
When residents of several nearby developments began arguing about who was going to be more inconvenienced, Board of Supervisors chairman Richard Hannum struggled to stop them. “We are all protective of where we live, whether we live in Blackshire or elsewhere. Nobody's property is more important than anybody else's. That discussion is over,” Hannum said.
Supervisor John Sarro told Semon, “Andrew, we get a break in the traffic in July and August. But when the buses return in September, you can't get through.”
Supervisor Julia Lacy added that a revised traffic count could tip the decision to construct a turn lane, “But it seems to me that we don't have enough information at this point,” she said.
Township traffic engineer Jerry Baker said that the traffic count will have to be done again, especially because it did not take into account the traffic that will result from the scaled-down nursery operation that will feed into the same intersection.
Semon agreed that the count needed to be redone, and that conducting a study when school is in session would be a good idea. Because of PennDOT criteria, traffic counts are done only between 7 and 9 a.m., and 4 and 6 p.m., he said. That would leave out traffic that sometimes backs up on Route 82 when Willowdale Chapel has evening events, some residents pointed out.
Summing up after the sometimes heated discussion, Semon said that the traffic count will be redone, a pedestrian count will be redone, and there will be consideration of whether lowering the speed limit on Route 82 to 35 miles per hour would help the situation. The placement of a proposed crosswalk across Route 82 will also be finalized, he said, along with the type of warning lights or signals it will have.
Responding to the requests of neighbors, there will be no active recreation areas in the new community, Semon said. No street lighting is planned, aside from at the intersections with nearby roads, and a sidewalk is planned on the east side of Route 82 to connect the community with the businesses at the intersection of Route 82 and Route 926.
Another planned development, Longwood Preserve, was addressed by attorney John Jaros. Ryan Homes is the builder for the 150-home townhome community on Schoolhouse Road. Jaros asked for board approval of a slight change in the footprint of some of the units, which was approved. The intersection where the community's boulevard entrance intersects with Schoolhouse Road was also discussed. Jaros said a plan to raise Schoolhouse Road several inches to improve sightlines at the intersection was scrapped after one resident would not allow it. Instead, Jaros asked for approval of a three-way stop at the intersection without raising the road. There will be advance warning signs posted on Schoolhouse Road to alert drivers that there is a stop sign ahead. The board approved the change.
In other business, the board approved a Citadel Federal Credit Union branch that is planned for the former site of a Burger King on Route 1. Township regulations mandate brick facing for new construction, but a Citadel representative sought a change to allow fieldstone for the bank, which is the Citadel trademark. The board approved the change after seeing photos of what the bank will look like.
The board approved six dates that Longwood Gardens will have fireworks this summer. The dates are all Saturdays, with only one Sunday show. There will also be less emphasis on the fireworks and more emphasis on the fountains, so noise should be reduced, according to the Longwood representative, responding to complaints from neighbors.
The Walmart store on Route 1 got approval for its outdoor garden center, which will be set up again in the store's side parking lot this spring and summer. And TNT Fireworks was granted approval to set up a tent in the Walmart paking lot to sell approved fireworks for about 10 days leading up to July 4. A conditional use order was approved for the new owner of the former Bruster's ice cream shop building on the south side of Route 1, which will become a medical office with a smaller parking lot.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org.