Public hears plans for Moran Farm Development in Oxford06/14/2021 09:41PM ● By Steven Hoffman
On Wednesday, June 9, the public heard plans for the proposed development of the Moran Farm in Oxford Borough. The first in-person meeting since the pandemic was held in the equipment building at the Public Works location on Locust Street.
After a recent walk-through of the property by Oxford Borough officials and representatives from Frost Development, council and the planning commission planned a public meeting so residents could hear first-hand the plans for the 95-acre tract on Locust Street and to inform developers of their concerns and questions.
Plans for the Moran Farm had previously been presented to the Borough in 2003. Due to a number of issues, including the depressed housing market and lack of sewage availability, the project was put on hold.
Then, in December of last year, the Frost Group brought new development plans to council during a budget hearing.
The timing of that presentation was ironic because council had just announced a budget for 2021 that would include no new taxes, despite the impact of the pandemic. Council did express some concerns about potential future expenditures.
The Frost Group explained to council at that time they felt the development had a potential to improve the borough’s financial situation.
Anthony McGuire, from Ryan Homes, the proposed builder for the development, said in December, “According to my research, since it is an age-restricted development, it would have no impact on the school district and would also have lower impact on the traffic, while increasing property tax revenues.”
And that is where the discussion picked up at the June 9 meeting. Borough solicitor Stacey Fuller explained that this meeting was not a required meeting, but it was requested by council and the planning commission.
“It was very important to council to pull together a joint borough council and planning commission meeting. Specifically, they wanted to notify property owners impacted by the proposed development,” Fuller said.
Fuller also explained this development will go through a lengthy review which could take up to two years. Not only will the review process include the borough planning commission, but also the regional planning commission. There will also be reviews by the borough engineers, zoning officer and borough solicitor.
Studies required in this planning process will include, but are not limited to, a traffic impact study and a fiscal impact analysis. The developers will also need to get approval from the Oxford Area Sewer Authority and will have to address the provision of water through the Borough Water Department and or Chester Water Authority.
A review and approval by DEP and the Chester County Conservation District is also required.
Fuller added, “Because this density or specific use is not permitted by current zoning ordinances, the developers are seeking a zoning amendment to be approved by borough council. The Borough is not legally required to nor can we provide individual notice of meetings where this issue will be discussed. Anyone interested is this can and should attend planning commission and Borough Council meetings and monitor the Oxford Borough website to stay on top of this process.”
Currently, 101 units are proposed for the 95-acre tract. And the development is an age- restricted development for 55-and-over residents, which would mean no impact on the school system. As the Frost Development group explained, the age restriction should also mean less traffic impact. There are five models of houses available, all of them with a ranch-style design. They will all have one- or two-bedroom designs and will have two-car garages.
However, a number of the residents disagreed with the statement regarding the impact on the traffic.
“You definitely need to do a traffic impact study,” said Chauncey Boyd, a borough resident who lives near the intersection of Wedgewood Road and Locust Street. He said that he has seen first-hand the significant issues of the Locust Street traffic.
“I’ve seen 65 miles-per-hour traffic here,” he said. “I’ve been in the transportation business for years. This is a major artery. It is also going to put a major impact on the fire company, emergency services and the police department.”
Boyd, like many others, also expressed concerns about Tweed Creek and the impact the development would have environmentally. Questions regarding the environment would be reviewed by borough engineers, the Chester County Conservation District and DEP.
John Jaros, an attorney, told those in attendance, “We have to address Tweed Creek and the traffic. We feel the other plan would have had more of an impact on the traffic.”
Another resident said he thought stop signs would help with traffic safety issues in the area.
Other residents were concerned about losing the views behind their properties and the buffer area between them and the new development.
“My grandchildren love to play out back and now will be restricted,” the resident said.
Residents expressed issues with “just hearing” about this plan. Council President Peggy Russell informed residents that Mr. Frost and his group were at the December Zoom meeting, which also covered the 2021 budget.
Frost told the public, “we walked the area planned for our development and that is why we are here. Your concern is our concern. We can look at buffering with berms or trees. We will address this as we go through the planning process, and we will.”
Other residents expressed concerns about the potential of losing the very thing they moved to the area for: the ability to see wildlife and the stars.
There were questions about whether there is enough capacity for this development and what developers would be paying for hook-ups to the public sewer system.
David Busch, the executive director of the Oxford Area Sewer Authority, said, “There is capacity available for the development.”
The developer group said at this point they would be paying $4,915 per EDU and hook-up.
The development would be maintained by a Homeowners Association and what that entails would also be reviewed by the Planning Commission, solicitor and would involve a contract.
Sidewalks are planned throughout the development, but residents also questioned if sidewalks would be required by Locust Street’s current property owners because of the proposed development. Residents expressed great concern over the cost of installing sidewalks in front of their properties.
The developer’s group reiterated that the age-restricted community would have less of an impact on the traffic and school system. They also stressed it would increase local spending to the businesses and help create jobs.
The planning process will be ongoing. Boyd said he and other residents came to listen and he hoped the developers also listened to each one of the residents who expressed concerns.