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The Abington Citizens Network
where Abington, PA residents can share ideas and join forces to build a better community
 

Baederwood Shopping Center
( The Fairway Transit District 
 Ordinances 2000 & 2006  )

   Please check all details  for accuracy with the Township or your own Commissioner.
     Please ask the Township to post a page like this with history/ document links / the next meeting etc 
         so citizens don't have to 
    If there are errors, 
please let us know so we can correct anything that needs correcting
_______________________________________________________

The Nutshell :
        The Baederwood Shopping Center
consisted of 3 parcels.
2 parcels made up 10.56 acres along the Fairway and one 8.32 acre parcel was in the rear,undeveloped and on a steep slope
 circa 2005 when Brandolini bought all 3.
           Brandolini presenteed a plan in 2006 to redevelop it with 500 apartments, expanded office/ retail space and an underground garage.  After meeting great resistance from the residents, and submitting repeated  variations of the plan, Brandolini decided instead to challenge the validity of the ordinance on the rear 8 acres, saying that they had become the victims of reverse spot zoning - all the parcels around the 8 acres  had been allowed to deveop with greater rights. They took us to court.  This prompted our Commissioners to propose to rezone the entire Fairway. They created the Fairway Transit District and gave Brandolini a great deal of what he was seeking . On the rear 8 acres he won the right to build 244 units - under the condition that he made certain improvements to the 10 acre area before beginning to develop the rear acreage. 
          But in 2013 Brandolini changed the ownership entities on the parcels, and despite  having provided for some  easements between the parcels, he claimed in 2016  that he should have the right to build on the rear 8 acres, but no longer had the ability to control the development of the 10 acres in order to meet the conditions, alternately saying in part he had already met them and, alternately still yet, saying the conditions being requested were not what was agreed to.  In September 2016 he filed a formal appeal of the Determination by Mark requiring the conditions be met.  His appeal was denied in May 2017, but he appealed that decision in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, and then also subsequently filed an Amended Variance Request .  In February 2018, the Zoning Hearing Board granted  the 2nd Variance request - but the Township may appeal that . This takes us up to March  2018 .  Stay tuned
 
    
Timeline  Part One of the Baederwood Saga
       
 see      The Click here -- with a brief history of  that corner ...

Timeline : Part Two of the Baederwood Saga: After the rezoning
1-6-11 The Fairway Transit District was approved, paving the way for the redevelopment of the Baederwood Shopping Center under this Ordinance, and allowing for 244 units to be built on the rear 8.32 acres  ( where 8 previously would have been allowed

6-15-16   Letter To Township - they have registered  the : Legally Non-Conforming  Uses Structures and Sites in the Fairway Transit District
 
6-25-16  Declaration of Easements  Easements were given  for access where needed

7-18-16 The Penecale Determination – Zoning Officer Mark Penecale produced a letter that
          outlined what needed to be done  to meet conditions in order to be able to begin to develop
            the 244 units on the rear  8 acres

9-16 The Developers submit an appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board of the decision rendered  7-18-16
         
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B48SOIQ31gKDczB4WE9ETGp5Qms/view 

10-10 -16  Notice of Oct 18th ZHB meeting :  
             https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B48SOIQ31gKDd2pNb1FWaXpJNkU  

10-18 -16 First hearing . Transcript:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B48SOIQ31gKDZUZtRmluakljSkU

11-29-16  Second  hearing . Transcript: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B48SOIQ31gKDT2tWRW1PWTFjTG8   

1-10-17  Third  hearing . Transcript: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B48SOIQ31gKDTTZ3RmdNZGp6Qk0

2-15-17  Fourth  hearing . Transcript:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B48SOIQ31gKDNFdVZkpFZ3R6dDQ

3-15-17   Fifth and final  hearing . Transcript:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B48SOIQ31gKDQmxzVlNYbTh1UkhsZXQ3bEN4RWFtYkpDUHdF

5-17-17  The Zoning Hearing Board  denied the  application --- the Developer appealed
                  this in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas  

9-14-17 Not content to wait for the court decision, the Developer submitted  an Amended Variance application
            Here is the Cover letter ( that defines ownership  of the parcels )
            https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B48SOIQ31gKDVjhiNnp3RGxUTFY2YVhZdHNQRm1zZElKSXd3 
           Here is the over letter plot plan
    
            https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B48SOIQ31gKDTEdiOW42MXEtYk9DcFZiRm1MaEhwMWgzOXRR
           Here is the  Amended Variance Application 
            https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B48SOIQ31gKDQjljOGdsakNZV0dtZ3hnRm00RF9YN0JydjYw 
           Per one Commissioner : “  it appears to be another avenue by which the Developer
           seeks the same end result as the last round, but by a slightly different maneuver intended
            to circumvent the previously agreed upon zoning criteria.  Accordingly, the Township
            will continue to be there to oppose the application”
             Here is  Exhibit E – the Whole Foods Lease
          
 https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B48SOIQ31gKDOHc5SEtIY2VnYV9UTmYxaUFtTEoycmhFeTlN   

10-17- 17- The first hearing night for the  Amended Variance Application  
            ( please send transcript if you have it  and please ask your Commissioner  to post a page to explain )
12-19-17  - the 2nd  hearing nite

           ( please send transcript if you have it  and please ask your Commissioner  to post a page to explain )


 

Jan 6th, 2011  A sad day for Abington, in the opinion of some of us. The Ordinance was passed by the Board of Commissioners at the Public Hearing tonight where many, many residents showed up & many spoke - all against it.
   Only 2 Commissioners ,  Zappone and Carlin, (thank you, gentlemen) seem to hear those that testified tonight (and over the last four years) . We gave them something very close to - perhaps in many ways better than - they would have won in court  - had they even prevailed .    If Brandolini won the  PB ( Planned Business)  designation  for the rear 8 acres  they would still have 60 foot setbacks - (instead of the  20-25 Kline & Peacock offered in this ordinance) .  If they won the PB, they would have 50 foot building heights -( instead of the 75 feet they were given in this ordinance)

      Brandolini would have been limited in the amount of developing they could do by the height and the amount of parking if they won the PB - while  Kline & Peacock tried to portray that these would not create any significant limitation. Land Planner Kennedy could have given  directly comparable figures based on the most dense configuration that he could have contrived using either commercial or residential or both --  but he did not.  The public, on this matter , was missing information  necessary for comparison. And when we tried to correct a definitive misstatement from the dais,  we were denied the opportunity to speak . (Business as usual)
        
        Residents said again and again in the past they did not like or want parking garages -  Kline and Peacock gave INCENTIVES for them to build parking garages.  Residents did want a movie theater - Kline and Peacock gave NO incentives for that .    Residents were told by Kline that there was 30% green space. But there is not .  There is only a guarantee of 20% pervious surface --- pervious surface does not have to be green (* gravel & some hardscapes are pervious  )  Residents by and large want their properties set back from the curb,  closer to the curb  are being given to build up close to the street.  75 foot heights can be the reward for building some other feature we also don't want. There are many,  many more and problems with this ordinance. One can only hope that someone will file an appeal. Knowing that ordinances with these types of is in the planning commercial districts all over the Township makes this distressing.

    Commissioners Kline & Peacock said they heard residents . Maybe. But then they must have ignored  of what they heard .  I

The zoning rewrites  passed in April 2017 had many of these measures in them and  the challenges began immediately. That made many of these measures standard Township wide .will find your whole Township challenged in this fashion  and  residents, as proven here, will be given very little time to learn about it and to have any say.
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  Feb 2, 2011  The Fairway Transit District (FTD) ordinance was passed on January 6, 2011.  There were more than a few irregularitites uncovered but  left unaddressed before its passing  and it seems likely that within the next few days there may be an appeal filed .  For one thing the ordinance was never declared invalid - and had it been, it seems that  we would have had six full months to bring it into compliance. There is also a question of whenher all the correct procedures  have been followed ….    Your commissioners continue to report that under the PB ordinance ( had Brandolinie won…)  the builder would have had virtually no limits on density. That is simply untrue . They were very definitely limited by height, setbacks and parking.  We just never got to see any real samples of what that would have looked like, complete with both commercial & residential. If they wanted to add parking, they would have had to forego other things.  The new ordinance actually allows greater heights and smaller setbacks, encourages parking garages and shamefully does not guarantee green space, among just a few of its faults.  In this writer's opinion it was a very sad day for Abington to see the kind of ordinance that your Commissioners found acceptable.   In addition,  the way inaccurate & misleading information was put forth in order to get it passed was just as shameful. Residents were told that the Montgomery County planning commission had approved it - apparently they had not approved it without  conditions.  Nearly everything that residents stood at the podium and asked for was ignored. If anyone does not believe these serious irregularities exist, I urge them to contact me and get the actual facts. Some of us have put hours into getting the details so that we could understand it more fully.   And we are more than dismayed…

It has been shared that Brandolini has no immediate plans to re-develop the property as per the new rights granted in this ordinance. we expect instead that they will be looking for  tenants .  But once the building starts , I think  you will be shocked at what is to come in 75 foot heights.    This is a heads up for the manner in which the township wide rezoning of the exact same kind is about to be processed……… 
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July 12, 2011  One resident  resident ( without attorney - representing himself  "pro se" )  - filed a challenge to the passing of the ordinance.  For a variety of reasons  he has challenged that the ordinance be declared invalid and reversed and he argued sufficiently well in Common Pleas  Court for the judge to require that the Zoning Hearing Board  hear his complaints.   Tonite the resident  preented the first details , but there were many objections  and the process did not get far.  The case will resume Aug 24th  7 in township building – but double check on the township website (http://www.abington.org/resident/events.htm )  to make sure it hasn’t been removed, changed or cancelled . 

Here is a site  that addresses some of the issues  via an email from Commissioner Peacock responded to by the resident making the complaint …..  
 
http://www.scribd.com/doc/60145642/Media-Patch-7-16-11-Letter
This is an important issue for Abington residents.  False and/or misleading testimony and other very serious issues are all quite evident here and we should be grateful one  resident had the temerity to challenge these.
Perhaps an even greater concern is the complete disregard by the Commissioners for  the wishes of the residents who came time and again to the podium to decry garages,  smaller setbacks, higher buildings, increased density, safety & emergency vehicle access,  disregard for the steep slope and flooding  etc etc ------only  to have the Commissioners in some cases even provide INCENTIVES for the builder to build what the residents did not want - while NOT providing incentives for the top requests of residents .
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2013  Brandolini reshuffled ownership of the various parcels- though it appears the entities are largely still  "Brandolini  entities". These changes in ownership were a complicated series of actions that they later used to claim made it impossible to meet their obligations  on the lower parcels that were supposed to be modified  before developing the  rear 8 acres because they no longer owned them . Was the purpose to obfuscate? Perhaps that would not be an ssumption that should not be considered.  It led to the next round of absurdities where they decided that the conditions that were supposed to apply, no longer did.
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2016 Brandolini  asked to develop the back 8 acres - but was met with a list of conditions they had not met . They appealed to the Zoning Hearing Board  that these conditions did not, or should not apply. The rearranged ownership was part of the problem.
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2017    After their appeal was denied in May by the Zoning Hearing Board Brandolini decided not just to file in Common Pleas Court to appeal that decision, but also to file another Amended Variance Application.  So the Township was  defending on 2 fronts.   At what cost one might ask?  
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2018   By February, the Zoning Hearing Board has granted the Amended Variance Application - but the Township is sounding as if they might appeal
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)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

 Part One of the Baederwood Saga

          Circa 2005, a company named Brandolini bought the 18 acres that was known as the Baederwood Shopping Center . It was divided into three parcels.  2 of the parcels making  10.56  acres along the Fairway have  stores and offices and were zoned PB. The rear 8.32 acres  was sloped and wooded land-- the only real  green space left in this tri-parcel bundle.  It  was zoned R1 for 8 homes - although the steep slope might have dictated fewer.   Of the 10.56 acres - 2.63 was the Whole Foods parcel and 7.3 was the strip mall with the cinema and offices.
    
           Brandolini first came in with a plan for 500 apartment units and greatly expanded  office and retail .  In early meetings they presented the most absurd traffic studies,  suggesting little or no impact and they  made absurd comments about the number of children certain apartments might draw - giving us no reason to respect any of their findings ( or to want "corporate citizens" like that in our township.)  They often showed little or no respect for residents directly, and seem to be uninterested in residents wishes in any fashion. Overt rudeness has been exhibited by their lawyer in these proceedings.  
    
         When their plan was rebuffed again and again by large crowds of residents  they changed their tune and decided to claim that they lacked access to the 8 acres that was landlocked in the middle (hello they own the access property.... this surely makes no sense) and they said that properties all around them were allowed to build commercial so they should be, too.  ( But they weren't all - Rydal Waters is residential)  They said they had been the victims of "reverse spot zoning "  They wanted us to rezone the 8 acres to  PB - on which you could build significantly more than you could on the current R1 zoning.   They were going to challenge the validity of our ordinance.
    
        Abington Township Commissioners, despite  listening to residents again and again say  that they did not want the over-development that Brandolini offered, hired experts to review and write a new ordinance, a curative amendment, purportedly to put something in that would be more desirable, and something that would avert a lawsuit. Residents were not openly invited to participate in these meetings crafting the new ordinance, nor were they kept abreast in a manner that was easy for them to understand what was being suggested.

        What the Commissioners, with their "experts" crafted was not just for  the Baederwood shopping center, but  a Fairway Transit District  for the whole Fairway - and was rife with objectionable "gifts" to the developer. Gifts that many of us feel are unwarranted and not in our interest. Building on the green space, far too many units, no accommodation for traffic or water that is adequate, no plan for the Rydal bridge.  Residents remain uninformed of all of the details of Transit Oriented Districts (TOD's) which the adjacent Noble area has been slated to become. Density is a prime feature of that. The most egregious part of this is that they had the ability to inform us so residents could understand - but despite all our requests,  and the use of our monies for all of these shenanigans, adequate communication was refused. 

        The FTD  Ordinance passed  Jan 6, 2011 and the District was created that enabled the 244 units on the rear acreage  - much to the disappointment of the residents that had been though so much. By 2013 the developer "adjusted" the ownership on all the parcels and by 2016 he filed suit to be able to build on the rear parcels without fullfilling the obligations he had agreed to on  the front parcels.  Their first  request to be excused from these obligations was denied --- they appealed that in Common Pleas court. They aldso filed another request - an amended request - for a variance. That was granted 2-18 by the Zoning Hearing Board - but the Township may appeal that .

    If you need any of the details of the proceedings in between all these things  - just ask.

  We will bring more details as they are known and welcome your comments  to share either anonymously or with your name attached with your  fellow Abington residents.    See What Abington residents are saying to view these .

____________________________

  If you have any updated information, or something you would like to share, please Send your the information to: lel@abingtoncitizens.com 

 


 

 

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