East Penn Press

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Tuesday, October 17, 2017 by TARA CARMAN Special to The Press in Local News

Zoning change for proposed townhouses passes; residents not happy

Emmaus Borough Council approved a zoning change involving the proposed Townhouses at South Mountain at the council meeting Oct. 16.

The new proposed townhouse community will be located on the 9.85 acres located between Tilghman and Arch streets and will allow a proposed 49-unit townhouse development. The zoning change request was put forward by W2B2, LLC, who bought the property from Rodale.

The original concept was to have three-quarters residential medium and one-quarter conservation residential. The newly proposed plan will move the conservation residential line and will allow for almost twice the amount of space. The current plan has 2.8 acres located in the conservation residential district and the developers are seeking to convert 1.6 of those acres to medium residential district.

The newly proposed concept will allow 81,261 square feet of recreational space compared to the original 55,800 square feet. It would also increase the walking path from 1,440 lineal feet to 2,875 lineal feet.

The plan also requests a special exception to allow townhomes instead of twins.

According to Borough Solicitor Thomas Dinkelacker, after passing through council, the proposed zoning change must next go to the zoning hearing board. Once it passes the zoning board, it will go to the planning commission to review the development aspects of the plan such as traffic, stormwater, environmental issues and zoning issues like setbacks, building numbers and the size of the lot.

“Ultimately, based on the planning recommendation it will come back to borough council for some form of final action,” Dinkelacker said.

Dinkelacker noted the only issue that was supposed to be focused on during the meeting was the rezoning of a small piece of land. Development issues will be discussed down the road during the public meetings held by the zoning board and planning commission.

Joseph A. Bubba, from Fitzpatrick Lentz and Bubba, attended representing the applicant. He expressed to the residents in attendance he understood their concerns.

“I’ve been doing this a while, and I’ve been on both sides of this,” Bubba said. “I realize whenever an advertisement goes out and it says we’re getting rid of a conservation district or amending open space it’s a sensitive issue, I understand that.”

Bubba said the proposal was not trying to seek an increase in density, increase in number of units and not seeking to increase traffic from the current zoning to the proposed zoning.

W2B2 would still be able to build apartments and four single family lots without the approval of the zoning amendment, but they wanted the change so residents could benefit more from the open space including a walking trail.

“What we are trying to do is make the townhouse development aesthetically pleasing on larger lots,” Bubba stated. “We’re trying to increase open space and allow residents of Emmaus to actually have access to that space.”

Over a dozen residents who live near the area were in attendance to express their concerns which included increased traffic, increased population and the possibility of stormwater issues created with the proposed ordinance. A petition was presented to council with names of residents opposing the zoning changes.