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Planners OK with Zoning Change for Proposed 500-Apartment Plan

The Lower Nazareth Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of a zoning change that would allow a proposed 500-apartment development near Louise Moore County Park to move forward.

Most of the five-member Lower Nazareth Planning Commission is comfortable with allowing a zoning change for Stone Post Meadows, a proposed 500-apartment development near the county's Louise Moore Park.

In a 3 to 1 vote Monday, the Planning Commission recommended the Board of Supervisors approve a zoning overlay, which would include Medium Density Residential (MDR) and Office Park (OP).

Here's what that means in layman's terms:

According to Martin Gilchrist of Urban Research & Development Corp., the proposed residential development off Hecktown Road -- not far from the Country Club Road intersection -- includes 496 upscale apartments on 40 acres. The development, he added, will be built around 10 acres already set aside for an office and business complex.

While the office and business complex is no problem, the project needs the zoning overlay so the residential development can move forward.

Linda Crook, Planning Commission chairwoman, was the lone dissenting vote.

“I don’t think the township needs more high-density housing,” she said.

Referring to a proposed commercial-use plan the township previously denied, planner Hugh Harris said he felt Stone Post Meadows "is a better fit than the plan we heard a few years ago."

Planner Ronald Siedlecki agreed, adding, "It looks like something we’d want to see in our area."

Gilchrist described the project as "high-end construction" and modeled after the Bethlehem Fields development in Hellertown. The apartments will be visually inviting with steep roofs, gables and dormers, as well as extensive landscaping and trees.

The two- and three-story apartments -- 248 one-bedroom units and 248 two-bedroom units -- will rent for $1,100 to $1,500.

There will be four access points: two on Hecktown Road and two on Country Club Road. The main entrance on Hecktown Road will be a curved drive that leads to a clubhouse and pool. The drive then continues toward the residential area, Gilchrist said.

The Board of Supervisors on Oct. 10 expressed concern over the close proximity to the 125-acre Louise Moore Park

Gilchrist noted at the Oct. 10 meeting that the plan includes more than 25 percent of designated "green space." This space will be transformed into passive recreation areas and pedestrian trails, three of which will connect to Louise Moore Park.

A 530-foot setback near Hecktown Road is also planned, Gilchrist explained, to retain the character of the surrounding rural area, in addition to serving as a buffer, wildlife habitat and groundwater recharge.

Tara Capecci, secretary of the commission, was absent from Monday’s meeting.

kolleen Casey October 18, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I don't think it's a good idea. It will take away from the little bit of country we have left. I don't know the impact it will have on our schools. I'm sure there's room but the classroom sizes are already too large. That intersection also has many accidents.

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