Supervisors Grant Final OK for Age-Restricted Housing
The Falls Township Board of Supervisors this week cautiously reviewed land development plans for an age-restricted community on the former St. Joseph the Worker parcel prior to voting unanimously to grant preliminary and final land development approval.
The board, prior to setting the wheels in motion for the 55 and up community at 9172 New Falls Road, discussed at length concerns about sections of the property being situated within a floodplain based on maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Officials said FEMA is in the process of moving the parcel out of the floodplain. If the flood line does not move, the developer would need to come back before the board for another review and amended approval.
The Supervisors granted conditional use approval during its Oct. 3 meeting.
“We’re trying to protect the people who are buying those homes,” Supervisor Jeff Rocco said. “I’m just not comfortable knowing the floodplain is still there.”
Supervisors Chairman Bob Harvie said the township has successfully petitioned FEMA to remove many homes in the North Park and Elderberry section of town from the floodplain.
“This is a continuation of the process,” Harvie said, adding that the New Falls Road property is expected to be remapped – and no longer considered to be in the floodplain – in March.
Currently, the 18.17-acre property is comprised of about 5 acres of impervious surface and zero stormwater management. As proposed, the community would have approximately 6.5 acres of impervious surface with the addition of stormwater management controls to help alleviate flooding and assist with drainage.
Township Engineer Jim Sullivan told the board he was “100 percent sure” that the stormwater plan would work for the project.
Tom Hecker, an attorney for developer McGrath Homes, said a remapping request is being filed with FEMA.
“We’re going to have this line remapped. We’re confident with that,” he said. “This property will be ahead of the curve.”
Prospective townhouse and flats buyers and apartment renters are said to be ahead of the curve as well. McGrath officials reported that 70 people have so far expressed interest in St. Josephs Court. Site work is expected to begin soon and construction should conclude in about 18 months.
The development will consist of a 3,000-square-foot clubhouse, as well as 62 1,800- to 2,000-square-foot townhouses; 141,100- to 1,200-square-foot flats; and two two-story buildings consisting of 24 apartments per building. Developer John McGrath said the flats and townhouses will range in price from $270,000 to approximately $325,000.
Typically, an area is ripe for an age-qualified community if 15 percent of the population in a five-mile radius is aged 55 and older. By comparison, McGrath said 33 percent of Levittown residents meet the age restriction.
The community would be run and maintained by a homeowners association. Residents would be charged dues to cover snow plowing, landscaping, trash removal, maintenance and road repairs.
In short, the new development would not pose any financial impacts to the township or existing taxpayers.
Harvie, in referencing water and a potential for mosquitos and geese, mentioned that the township undertakes a number of geese management efforts, at Falls Township Community Park in particular. Since the association would be responsible for the community, Harvie said the township would not be involved in St. Josephs Court’s mitigation efforts.
“This being sort of a self-run community, it has to be clear that if it becomes a hangout for the geese, we’re not going to be a solution,” he said.