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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. If there are discrepancies please let us know so we can correct anything that needs correcting
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On This Page Find:

The Nov 2010 Proposal - Ordinance 2000 The Fairway Transit District 
Cogent Points of the Nov 2010 proposal  
What Your Fellow Residents are Saying
Send Your Comment to Post  (posted anonymously)
The History of the Baederwood Center area
Chronology of Meetings and Proposals
Legal  references  &  legalese that may apply
Facade Renovations  being made 2010  
The "Politics" of the Baederwood - and the upcoming primary

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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 Dr Sklaroff, 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 .

   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……… 

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.  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 .  If you watch this meeting  you'll be able to judge that for yourself. Go to the bottom  of this page and choose the January 6, 2011 meeting - http://abington.org/channel43.htm

Please be aware - the zoning rewrites 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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 PROPOSAL Nov 2010  

Draft Ordinance 2000 The Fairway Transit District will be heard Jan 6th - possibly with amendments
http://www.abington.org/newspage/downloads/bsc%20redev%20litig.pdf
 This Fairway Transit District zoning was was drafted at the expense of Abington taxpayers, who hired the land planner and the attorney, they THOUGHT to keep their interests at heart.  It seems very little to be in favor of the residents  and very much to be in favor of Brandolini, the developer who was requesting MORE than his original rights allowed.  

And Draft Ordinance 2006
is also being heard Jan 6th which
amends the zoning map of Abington Township to include ALL  3 parcels as Fairway District, parcels
Parcel #  30-00-66636-00-6 consisting of 7.3 acres ( the long strip center )
Parcel # 30-00-66652-008 consisting of 2.63 acres  (Whole foods)
Parcel # 30-00-66644-00-7 consisting of 8.42 acres, the green, sloped wooded,  R1 acres

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  COGENT POINTS OF THE Nov 2010 PROPOSAL

as of 12-10
Zoned FTD
- Fairway Transit District  - did we want a transit district? And the whole Fairway area?
What would it include ? they would like to include the 8.32 (or 8.42) green, sloped acres zoned R1
           which is residential - and would currently only allow 8 single family homes.
Transit oriented ?- What IS transit district? Transit oriented districts by definition encourage     
         higher  density UNdesirable for most Abington residents, according to repeated testimony.
246 residential units to be added (if bonuses & triggers are "met".The builder himself proposed 180
      at one point 
The 720 units they have been "threatening" us they COULD build  are one bedroom or studio -  not
        even desirable  in the market - they do not compare to the 246 which are multiple
        bedroom/ bath units 

205,000 square feet FTD offers approx this  commercial & office  w/bonuses & triggers
Green space -sloped & wooded part to be buildable - no ample green space for a parcel this size
Build to
edge of road / urban feel  actually is  incentivized to come right up to to the Fairway
Density per capita count will go from  ___ to ____  ?  . 
Density - Car insurance rate higher in more dense areas & crime more prevalent
Density - gas consumption greater in areas where idling in traffic & waiting at lights occur
Density - How did we get so dense ?  On that corner that surrounds the Baederwood &  also
        includes Rydal Park &  Rydal Waters, are 65 acres that was formerly "D" - like R1- or largely R1
        residential (1 unit per acre )This would now have close to 900 units instead of the original
        65 or slightly more intended. This is in addition to office and commercial. It is  one of the most
       outrageously dense corners of the Township that happened piece by piece by piece - like this.
Incentives and triggers are like "derivatives"  -  in fact, the whole ordinance is written in a
        convoluted way where no one can really see what is being presented  or what  fully is being
        offered- or what actually will be built there. The zoning is going to be put in place before the
         project is presented - then residents will have no recourse to stop something undesirable
Incentives are largely for things that developers want anyway because they bring bigger dollars
Parking  - There will be _____?  Parking spaces - Shared parking / inadequate parking
Pedestrian friendly- means you don't park where you want to go (garages or shared parking)
Crime  increases with density & in commercial areas (workers /shoppers) and in transit areas
Comprehensive plan for Township -no mechanism to keep from losing green in this fashion?
               
does it advocate this density/ parking/building to street ? Then
             it's not in our interest. It should be changed.
Old York Rd Corridor Plan -
 does it advocate this density/ parking/building to street ? Then
             it's not in our interest. It should be changed.
Traffic
- # of potential cars went from _____ to ____  an already congested streets
Traffic -  cutting through there will be no way to stop cuts through the neighborhoods
Traffic studies  bogus -  completely disingenuous traffic studies & statements  have been provided
Traffic Signaling  &  remediation & traffic control costs - supposed to be shared by developer ?
Traffic Bottle neck at the railroad bridge underpass with no plan to r
elieve it
Schools - no age restriction -  additional students could mean construction costs borne by us
Flooding /Impervious surface– the maximum residential lot (R4) has 55% impervious surface
             This allows up to 80%.  Should voters & taxpayers in Abington have less than commercial
              landowners? Why do we have to buy green space while here they give it away ...
             Greenspace is not just for water runoff - it provides for cleaner air & visual relief etc
Flooding / Slow Release Holding Tanks----elsewhere these did not perform
             Flooding increased -– at the expense now of residents affected.  We understand they have
              a new kind now - but  that's what the last folks were told, too
Rental  Units  vs Owned units - rentals are “bottom line “ oriented rather than pride in ownership
Set backs not suburban but urban encouragement to build to the edge of the busy street –
               this only gives commercial more square footage – does not improve  the township.
               Look at the center of Jenkintown – does that look Pedestrian friendly to you ?
Taxpayer Input -  denied invitations to the many presentations/ readings and  development
               meetings of this ordinance
Zoning - P8 Paragraph P - This allows by right the owner to parcel off small pieces - with
               VIRTUALLY  NO REGULATION AND NO OVERSIGHT WHATSOEVER . Was this really
               written by a lawyer ?  No approval needed, no guidelines.  What ??????????
               This might affect the ability to resell, especially in bankruptcy, or create extra burdens for
                our staff or change the level of interest the owner has in maintenance- since it lessens
               his financial stake . All things we are in need of exploring more .
Zoning - Mixed use requirement  ignores the fact that the area already is mixed-use
              apartments, senior facility, senior independent units - There is plenty of residential --
               if Baederwood were all commercial the mix would be a better balance.
Zoning was known
- Brandolini claimed that  he was harmed by not having the same zoning as the
               surrounding properties the property knowing the zoning … there was no guarantee that
              he could build PB on the rear 8 acres. No zoning changed since he bought. If he was
              guaranteed he could get PB his claim is against the seller.
Zoning request to PB does not make sense – 8.32 acres is more like its residential SNR neighbors
Zoning  Access – claims  of no access have no merit - he can give himself an easement
Zoning model - this ordinance is being presented with a recommendation to use as a model for
              other properties and has many objectionable
 features that we do not have time to assess
Legal  If it is so that case–law is skewed in their favor – ( it does not appear this is the case ) we
              need to fight to have case-law begin to read the right way – in FAVOR of the taxpayers
              who elect  directly or indirectly the judges . If a judge would allow a community to be
              bullied by commercial interests then that judge should be removed because he does
              recognize the people that he is elected or appointed to serve.
Where does it stop? Rydal Park should not have prevailed, Rydal Waters should not have prevailed,
               When will we stop setting precedents that  are not in our interests
Legal cases found  have plenty of points that allow us to defend our rights and are not
        similar to us in the ways spot zoning was done --- We should have a right to examine for
        ourselves any case law that supposedly supports the opinion that the validity challenge has
        merit. I see none. Brandolini bought a steep and wooded sloped area - not prime commercial
         ground.  they had no guarantee of building there. Did we really pay for a lawyer and a planner
        and what they said is" in our opinion the other side would win - so just let me take your money
        ( which is over $30,000 by 12-10 -- and growing ..... ) and craft an ordinance that they would
        like.... and publicly announce that  you have  little  ground to stand on  - Whoa --  Would you
         really let a lawyer do that if you were in charge..?   
        - see some of the cases found - most of which seem to suuport us - let us know if you have
          found others
Our Land Planner & Our Legal expert have not presented ANY list of the flaws in the validity
         challenge as I would expect from someone working on my behalf.   Did we pay them only
           to construct an ordinance in favor of the developer . Where can I see the flaws? Who is
           standing up for us ?

We want to be included in the process
- There were no open discussion groups, no  forums where residents could have ample ability to understand what was going on. Residents are kept till late at night in order to hear the details - at the end of other issues. Only partial news is shared by commissioners and by other group leaders who should also  use their e-mail lists to condense and inform. A real chain for news and information needs to be formed in this Township that is ongoing, open,  free of charge.


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 MOST RECENT MEETING

   Dec 29th  7 pm- at the Brownstone Cottage across from the YMCA Park in the bank lot and walk across to the back door. Residents will meet to decide what they would like to say to Commissioners before and at the Jan 6th meeting where the ordinance is expected to pass, unless enough residents make their voices heard.

Dec 16th, 2010 Wednesday, December 15th 7:00 pm at Penn State
        Abington.   Commissioners  Peacock and Kline held this meeting a day AFTER the meeting
where you could have had an opportunity to tell your Planning Commissioners NOT recommend passing this ordinance on Jan 6th.  This is how it becomes a "done deal" - by making sure you are informed too late  and also by MISINFORMING you, as some of what was said was not exactly....true.
     The presentation was marked by the two Commissioners saying again & again that there was little they could do in the face of the challenge and that the ordinance was their way of having control .  But this writer, among others,  questions  if we had control why we would allow them to build  75 feet high when even by right they would only be allowed  50 feet height -  why would we allow them 80 % impervious surface if by right they would only have been allowed 70%  -  why would we have preservation of woods and green space as an OPTION rather than a requirement --  why would we be INCENTIVIZING  parking garages when residents have declared clearly they don't want them and why would we be requiring them to build up to the sidewalk  o when residents want structures placed back from the street and green space to exist?.  Why are there no bike paths ?  Why is there no webpage with all the details for you to find  ( more than just the ordinance itself ) and why is there no email list for those who want to be notified of the next meeting just on this topic?  The ordinance has been crafted, in this writer's opinion, with very little in our favor and residents have been  rendered helpless because, among other things, the entire process took place in the holiday season.  You will end up with this ordinance - and if you want this kind of behavior to continue you will re-elect the Commissioners responsible for this travesty
Dec 15th, 2010 - 7:30 Planning Commission Meeting  They PASSED the this  meeting was NOT held in Sutherland Auditorium, so we can only guess that the wider audience expected to come on the 16th was NOT going to be encouraged to come so their comments would not made in public ---- The Planning Commissione despite finding so many errors, lapses and things that needed change passed this on as a thumbs up.  It is unclear whether there will be an amendment to create the changes or how all those "holes" and unincluded items will be addressed.  Clearly no one had the time for this ordinance .

Dec 13th, 2010   Commissioner Kline sent this legal bit - which it would seem would bear in our favor . Both in that  it is in many ways injurious to the public interest - not JUST because the use in inappropriate and not just because of "over-development".  The traffic accident statistics  on Susquehanna Rd and the  lack of plans for amvulance/emergency vehicles are among just a few of the things NOT in the public interest.   In addition, it refers to our "policies"  - so we need to determine where these are and figure out how to strengthen them so they work as they should to protect Abington residents.   Where exactly are our "Policies" on traffic control listed ?  While this is not a subdivision ( it is a merging ) I assume it must fall under the subdivision category or Kline would /should not be referring to it. 
        Here is what  Commissioner Kline sent by way of legal backing : "
The general rule is that the governing body must approve a subdivision plan if it complies with the applicable statutes and ordinances.  While there is some authority for the proposition that a subdivision application may be denied if there is a showing that the plan would injurious to the public interest, Braun v. Swarthmore Borough, 288 A.2d 830 (Pa.Cmwlth. 1972), the kind of public injury which will justify denial of an otherwise conforming plan must be specific, and substantial.  From the outset, the courts ruled that a subdivision application may not be denied on the grounds that the use is inappropriate, or that the plan shows ‘poor planning’ and ‘over development’ or does not make adequate provisions for traffic flow, or for other similar or ‘policy’ reasons unless those policies are referenced in the specific requirements of the ordinance itself.  Scluffer v. Plymouth Township, 379 A.2d 1060 (Pa.Cmwlth. 1977) [string citations omitted] [emphasis added].” 

Nov 17, 2010   The Abington Township Planning Commission just reviewed  the Fairway Transit District (FTD) Ordinance  in front of an audience that had not been included in on the process .
Speakers from the audience  were more than a little upset when they found out that this ordinance was not geared just for the Baederwood shopping center, (the BSCD - Baederwood Shopping Center District ) as we were given to believe. We were lulled into thinking we had hired experts to craft an ordinance in our favor while the shopping center was just doing a little refurbishing on the store fronts in the meantime.
   Not quite!   In fact what was being developed was related to the transit area plan for the Fairway to Noble area  ( I tried to tell ya, folks ) But the details of the whole plan ( which may ultimately  include Buses, Shuttles, Parking Garages etc) will come later ......   So we are not privy to seeing all that is in the picture BEFORE being asked to approve this. More than one comment suggested that this ordinance was built, not just for the Baederwood but as a model for the whole Fairway area, hence the name Fairway Transit District.   And yes - though virtually none of the residents are in the know about this, it affects property owners all around the Shopping Center, and in fact, even Township wide because of the traffic, parking, water run-off etc,  to mention just a few things.

   Although commissioners purported to send us the news, we had not been alerted to what was really being done. No where could we have imagined that what was being crafted would even more rights then an earlier proposal the developer wanted to make.  Shame on you Commissioners Kline and Peacock and O'Connor. Many of us are feeling outraged. And we're being told that there is no time to review this properly. one gentleman noted that there is no place for open discussion on this issue  -  that was not corrected, just ignored.  We are told there is no time for further discussion. Brandolini might charge us with harm and sue us.
       Let them sue -  that beats giving the bullies whatever they want- including our property rights, our congested streets, our police services, our flood remediations, our increased crime, our loss of green space and need to repurchase it, our water system upgrades, our school overcrowding  and our ability to say no to the next bully.  What is the cost of all of that? In fact, if you recall- their entire ability to sue is based largely on the fact that we gave in to the last bully and allowed other building around them that was not residential. Frankly, a great number of us still believe that they would have a leg to stand on. The land they want to rezone is not surrounded by PB. In fact as one resident pointed out it's more like the residential piece behind it, so if it were to change, that would be the more reasonable.  we were not even up against Brandolini this time. We are now, in a sense,  battling our own lawyers and our own land planners. If we lose in court, they propose Brandolini's curative amendment would be worse--- but really in our own amendment we have given them virtually everything they wanted or were willing to settle for before. Along with 1000 unknowns, this ordinance could make the entire thing way worse than anything that they might choose to build. Someone might attempt to say, as the someone's here are prone to doing, that very intelligent  expert legal minds have rendered this opinion . So it is "right" .  I would challenge you to realize that in virtually every lawsuit, there are two lawyers with completely opposite opinions---  perhaps we just don't have the right one. In fact, one resident said his lawyer had looked at it-and had quite a  different opinion.

    Our Township, in the opinion of some of us, should have stood up for us and fought from the very beginning, instead of spending all of our money in a fashion
that does not benefit us,  but leaves us with less than the developer even asked for at one time.  Just as they should have fought the solicitors that now roam our neighborhoods and just as they should fight the billboards that threaten us now ( -- Marc Kaplin, the lawyer  who presented many of the absurdities for this Baederwood property and was so overtly rude to Abington residents, also represents some of the Billboard companies that are trying to take away our rights even further.)  
   We want this shopping center developed.  It has been a useless property and a blight in our Township for way too long. But we don't want to be held up for everything we value, in order to give these owners every penny they can dredge from it. 
This is nothing short of....... well, as one resident wrote after the meeting- " this was a railroad job"
........ and he wasn't talking about the "transit" center either.


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 THE HISTORY OF THE BAEDERWOOD CENTER Originally in that corner of the world there was 45 acres that might have , fully developed, 45 single family homes .  Brandolini, some 5 to 7 years ago I would guess it to be, bought 18 acres that was divided into three parcels.  2 of the parcels have stores and offices and are zoned PB. at the rear of the whole foods parcel is an 8.32 acre parcel of sloped and wooded land. It is the only real  green space left in this parcel. Brandolini has said that they lacked access to this 8 acres that was landlocked in the middle (hello they own one of the access properties.... This surely makes no sense) and they said that properties all around them were allowed to build commercial so they should be too. And they wanted us to rezone the 8 acres PB - on which you could build significantly more than you could on the current R1 zoning.   did not permit this, so they challenged the validity of our ordinance.
    In earlier 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.  
    Nonetheless, Abington Township Commissioners, after listening to residents again and again repeat that they did not want the over development that Brandolini offered, hired experts to review and write a new ordinance, purportedly to put something in that would be more desirable, and something that would avert a lawsuit. However, residents were not openly invited to participate in these meetings, nor kept abreast in a manner that was easy for them to understand. What they crafted, not for the Baederwood shopping center, but for a Fairway Transit District  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 - but despite all our request adequate communication has been refused. 

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 CHRONOLOGY  : 

Nov 16, 2010 ---Tomorrow, Nov 17, 2010 , The Planning Commission will review the Fairway Transit District (FTD) Ordinance . This was constructed by attorney & the land planner hired by the Township in response to the Validity Challenge of the zoning of the 8.32 acres wooded hill behind the existing shopping center.

Brandolini challenged the Validity of the current zoning  because all around them the Commissioners had allowed  extended zoning and not held the neighboring properties to the R1 zoning .  The 8.32 acres is  currently zoned R-1 Residential for 8  single family homes . Brandolini suggested they should be allowed  to develop that 8 acres as  PB (Planned Business) as well - and also wanted to join the parcels together  (  have they been joined? ) as one.  Even though the rear 8.32 acres is "steep slope" property and not acceptable for building..... By joining the parcels, the acreage allows for more building on the other area. It is unclear if they want to build on the 8 acres themselves.

  If a  Curative Amendment were supported by the courts ( if Brandolini won their challenge  to make those acres PB or Planned Business) a   higher density would be allowed which would include  300 or 350 residential units possibly instead of the 180-245  being proposed in the Fairway Transit District.  
in addition to the 130,000 sq.ft. of retail & office space.

   In response to the filing of the challenge the Board hired a land use attorney, Marc Jonas, and a Land Planner, John Kennedy. Taking the position that the Validity Challenge has merit, the Township sought to allow craft an ordinance giving the developer higher density/square footage if they provide  benefits to the township such as green building process, greater public transportation accommodations, secondary traffic patterns to alleviate current and future traffic problems and storm water management facilities that outperform the current requirements. The proposal is to allow 180 residential units on the full 18 acres and but to increase that to up to  245 residential units if the "maximum bonus points" are met for the green building and other incentives.  It permits  retail / office space of 136,000 sq.ft. but increases retail/office to up to 170,000 sq.ft. with  bonus points.

    Other changes to the current PB zoning are also a feature of the new FTD ordinance.
After the  Planning Commission review there will be a public hearing to be scheduled probably in early January 2011.  

From the way it looks - they have pretty much what they originally were willing to settle on in about the 2nd proposal  ---- are we all surprised?  Our commissioner has not addressed traffic/ parking spaces/ age restrictions etc in his summary - nor discussed the Rydal Bridge underpass. 


Note also the naming : as “Transit District” – in conjunction with  garage planned  near the train and other density increases.

___________________________________

Nov 3rd 2010 -  ( This meeting was cancelled )   see "Draft" of the ordinance that may (or may not ) be proposed  when next a meeting is called  http://www.abington.org/newspage/downloads/bsc%20redev%20litig.pdf. This ordinance was prepared for the Nov 3, 2010 meeting .

Facade Renovations
Current activity reflects facade renovations primarily  - there is also
a change of use proposed.


November 3rd 2010 meeting has been cancelled at the request of the Township-  no new meeting is expected until possibly January of 2011- an extension is expected to be granted by Brandolini.

_________________________

November 18th, 2009    ( Continuation of the Oct 14th meeting/hearing  )  7:30 pm in the Abington Junior High School Little Theater.  In the first part of the period the public was allowed only to question the developers.  The comment period was opened early at this meeting to the credit of the Commissioners. Many  knowledgeable speakers brought up point after point to counter the unpopular plans of the developer and to counter his comments that his 330,000 additional sq ft of development would bring hardly any significant traffic impact.  Voice after voice in the community ( all but 2 or 3 ) expressed their concern  and/or  displeasure with the plan as proposed.  The Board did not take action and will let their Planner & Legal counsel advise them before proceeding . Over 300 petitions in opposition have been submitted by residents. see summary  in red below .  See documents prepared by the developer on the township website : http://www.abington.org/resident/monthly%20meeting%20agendas.htm

November 12, 2009   The Board of Commissioners  approved the hiring of a land planner and an attorney . Marc Jonas  was the attorney hired at the rate of $150 hr .   Litigation has been filed  challenging the validity of our zoning ordinance. One resident asked if the "procedure" could be outlined for the residents so they understand the process.

October 14th, 2009  At this meeting Brandolini held their ground refusing to agree to 175 residential units & sticking with the 266  or to make them over 55 . The proposal continues as follows:

         Proposing to combine the front two parcels (10.56 acres) currently zoned PB (Planned Business) with the rear  8.32 acre parcel currently zoned R1 (low-density residential) to be a new zoning district BSCRD (this would allow far greater development on the 8.32 acres -  compared to the 8 units it would be allowed now as R1

         Proposing a 5 story parking garage on the rear acreage

         Proposing 266 residential units - all but 80 of which are intended for the rear acreage

         Proposing to save only  3 acres of the current  rear acreage (the 8.32 acres of green space )

         Proposing to increase the current retail and office commercial space (including Whole Foods) by approximately 30,000 square feet. (In other places 50,000 was the figure given for this )

         Proposing to create design guidelines, as part of new zoning district,  to govern the quality and aesthetics of the buildings and site planning - however they are not HELD to these in every way and there are several scenarios that could leave us with something quite different, once the new zoning is put in place .

         Proposing that these would NOT be 55 and over and might be rental units rather than owned by the resident
 

         Proposing that if we do not allow this that they will pursue the challenge to the zoning validity and that they then might win the ability to have the rear acres zoned PB .  If they do- they showed us a plan with 300 or 312 units on it  that they would then be able to build.

Let your Commissioner know your thoughts  They are still "deliberating" .  I personally do not believe that we should let such a developer bully us into more than what he has a right to develop by threatening a lawsuit . I believe it is worth the risk to say to both the Planning Commission, our Zoners, our Commissioners, our Staff and all  Developers that we want the line held on our zoning - that we don't want our rights constantly challenged and constantly disregarded .  And that we want Developers to care about what the residents want and what the residents need.  About our green space and our ordinances  for steep slopes etc.  If prior Planners should not have violated these rights, ( to have our laws respected and upheld)  then we should  ask that current Planners not continue in that egregious manner.   Residents are the voters.   Overdeveloping this area, in my own opinion, will lead to more and more commercial interests and "needs" that supersede those of the voters, who should be the rightful deciders.  

Information from first meeting can be viewed on the Township's website at the following link:  http://www.abington.org/resident/monthly%20meeting%20agendas.htm

News article : Can  shopping Centers survive in this economy ? What are the consequences of possible overbuilding ? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33404369/ns/business-personal_finance/

Brandolini - though not protesting the 175 units at the Planning Commission meeting - arrived at the October 14th meeting with no such intent to change their plan .  Neither were they interested in 55+ units, as they suggested there was no market for these . So their proposal remained at 266 residential (rental) units  comprising about 300,000+ sq ft - - 80 of the units might be on the front parcel - the remainder would be on the 8.32 acres zoned R1 -   There would also be significant commercial increase .  They seem unwilling to make any concessions and we were warned that the consequences of what they could build if they won their request for PB zoning on all three parcels through litigation  could be substantially worse and that we would have little say . The buildings in the plan  showed retail on the bottom and 3 floors above that - office & residential .  Only 3 acres of the sloped wooded greenspace was retained. The parking lot had a small amount of additional landscaping and one "gathering" area  to the left of Whole Foods . 

Sept 24th 2009  Planning Commission Meeting- The Planning Commission reviewed the Brandolini plan to build 266 units  of various sizes  ( averaging somewhere around 1,000 sq ft per unit ) and increase the Commercial & office space by  over 50,000 sq ft .  (see below for links.)The ordinance that the developer wishes to  see passed would unite the three parcels into one and  would change the zoning to a new zoning created just for the Baederwood center - It would be called BSCRD  ( for  Baederwood Shopping Center Redevelopment District, I believe )  and it would  be similar in many ways to the PB (Planned Business ) zoning that currently is in effect on the front parcels. Many questions were posed, including the fact that there is really nothing that seems to lock the developer into building what he has shown ( in addition what would happen if he went bankrupt or if he sold ----  the zoning would go with the land.  The developer believes that he has a plan that is totally & completely in concurrence with the Old York Road Corridor Study  and the Planning Commissioners pointed out places  where that was not the case.  They pointed out that the developer already had the ability to build on the front portion without building so many units into the rear 8 steep, wooded acres ( only 8 is currently allowed and  approx 186 are now scheduled for that acreage. )  After taking a recess  to originate a proposal, the Planning Commission ultimately said they would pass along their approval of the developer's  proposal with 4 conditions. One was a "trigger" that required some residential after a certain amount of commercial was developed  another  was to limit the residential  to 175 units . 55 + ( for seniors w/o kids)  was a recommendation ( but not required) and they were amending hte steep slope issues . 

 It is important to note again that they are asking this because the zoning of the surrounding area was not adhered to, which they claim affects them. So they would like the same privileges. They suggest our comprehensive plan encourages this type of change and  that it would be in the interest of the public.  Both  the actions of the Planning Commission & our Commissioners over the years, and the  many of the recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan & Old York Road Study that lead us to this place should be reviewed and amended in some opinions.

October  14th  Hearing  (?)  7:30 in the Little Theater .  This was billed in one announcement as a hearing & also billed in one announcement as just a Special Meeting which would not connote the same serious purpose - and the impending vote that might derive from it.  It will be worth finding out for sure if this is a Hearing.
 

October 8th - Board of Commissioners - this issue may not be on the agenda - but at the end of the code enforcement and land development section is open time for comment .

_________________________

PROPOSAL  -OCT 09

Find it at http://www.abington.org/resident/monthly meeting agendas.htm
There you will find :
Petition for Zoning Text Amendment and Zoning Map Amendment
Ordinance 1984 - Baederwood Shopping Center Redevelopment District
Ordinance 1985 - Zoning Map Amendment: Baederwood Shopping Center Redevelopment District
Baederwood Town Center Design Guidelines and Standards (in color)
Baederwood Town Center Design Guidelines and Standards (in black & white)
Baederwood Town Center Artist's Rendition (in color)
Baederwood Town Center Artist's Rendition (in black & white)

8-10-09 They'reeeeee back !  Having challenged the validity of Abington's zoning ordinance by pointing out that the zoning laws were not enforced on the neighboring properties over the years, ( waiver after waiver…. Something that is still going on in Abington) the Baederwood owners are back with a proposal for their "cure" --- that the R1 (single family residential ) portion (all that nice green space going up the hill )   be changed to PB (Planned Business ) which allows for a LOT more development  . The Board will vote on a resolution to advertise a date for a hearing October 14, 2009 . That meeting would be preceded by a September 24, 2009 review by the Planning Commission who would review the request  and make a non-binding recommendation to the Board of Commissioners. Please ask to get a copy of the petition posted on-line and available electronically as soon as possible so word can go round with details.

2-24-09  Baederwood  Shopping Center - Next meeting June 30

The previous plans have been withdrawn and now before the  Planning Commission -  Marc Kaplan  attorney for the owner - challenged the validity of our ordinance  requiring him to keep to the R1 zoning on the 8 acres behind the shopping area & said they want to propose a curative amendment - ( which could be anything - he did not offer the "cure" for us to review -- )  He offers us litigation if  we do not accept their plan  . In essence he suggests that we have "spot zoned" through the years - allowing all the properties around the 8+ acres of R1 residential to become   much more highly developed - and he wants the same priviledge for that little "island" of R1 land .  He might , for instance, propose that he be allowed PB zoning there (Planned Business  which allows SUBSTANTIALLY  more than 1 house per acre)  . Planning Chair Rosen said at the next meeting, June 30,  they would not be entertaining new evidence - just making a decision.

12-08- application withdrawn without prejudice Dec 10, 2008. Stay tuned to see what comes next.

11-08 They have tabled the process. Nothing new expected til early next year.

10-08 - The hearing is rescheduled to November 17th at  6:30 pm in the Jr. High Little Theater - please check with the Township or your Commissioner to be sure there have been no changes  between now & then.

9-17-08   Sept 17th meeting was postponed   ----on Sept 17th.   Presumably to work things out with the neighbors  and address their issues .    Several people have asked Commissioners to NOT have Baederwood present a LONG session - but to limit it to a brief overview & then allow questions.  ( note  this is not  a possibility with a hearing as it might be with a general informational public meeting - Hearings have specific rules that allow for presentations in full by the applicants - and there is also a place for residents to question & to comment - but with under strict guidelines as it is governed by hearing rules.)

It is expected to be rescheduled next month. 

CURRENT SITUATION ..................................NEW PROPOSAL
0  residential units................................................0
93,000 sq. ft. of retail..........................................133,000 approx   (39,000 additional )  
13,000 sq. ft. of office use.................................... 30,000 approx  (16,000 additional )
111,000 Total sq ft  .............................................166,000 approx  (more than 30% increase)
Parking 632 or 639 spaces.................................. (  ? )  and each 1 foot narrower than code 
Impervious Surface  ( ? ) .................................... ( ? ) 
Kind of Stores - upscale & restaurant...........Probably upscale & restaurant ( no big box stores - no movie) 
Whole Foods  ..............................................Whole Foods stays
 
Additional requests.....................................Make current parking spaces 1ft narrower
                                   ..................................Do away with the staggered fronts
                                   ................................. Allow one long, connected building
                                  .................................. Put commercial parking on land zoned R1 residential
                                  .................................. Exceptions in steep slope & grading 
Other Considerations ................................. Traffic - increase in traffic - particularly at rush hour  at the
                                                                        intersection  of Susquehanna & the Fairway  & thruZ
                                                                        neighborhoods
                                   ................................. Water  run-off  ?
                                  ...................................Movie theater? 
( my question :   couldn't we trade a variance or
                                                                            two for a movie theater ... just a thought  
- it was probably
                                                                            the most  frequent request by residents....)

                                                                   
8-29-08 the continuation of the hearing will be held September 17, 2008- currently the time is slated for 6:30 p.m. however that time may be slated to change again and it's recommended that you call the Township to double check (267-536-1000)  information that  I now have, tells us that they are proposing improvements to the three buildings next to the whole foods. 
PROPOSAL ( please do not rely on this to be technically correct - I could not match  the figures given in testimony at the meeting with figures given in documents I received or ones given to me by phone )
--------additional space  --  a total of 55,466 sq  ft. of space - which is 39,185 square feet of retail space and 16,281 ft. of office space.  (Testimony 8-19 indicated  there would finally be 133,000 sq ft of retail space - there is currently 92,000- incl Whole Foods. )
---------additional parking spaces - behind the building at least some of which will be in the R- 1 district  .R-1 is residential zoning.  (testimony  8-19 indicated  50 spaces  would be eliminated in the rear due to the new "configuration of the  buildings " and that they were asking  for 85 spaces  now that would encroach into the R-1 area or greenspace.  About 1.3 acres of surface area in the R-1 district  is  in the plan for the commercial parking and about 2.5 acres of greenspace, if we understood the testimony correctly.  ) They also are asking to reduce the width of the existing parking spaces by 1 foot in order to get more parking in the front
--------- variance to allow for a building length of 798.39 feet  -  the maximum building length under the code is  160 feet per building is allowed, although the existing maximum length is 368.58 feet.   What they accomplish with this is that they intend to to make one long building and fill in the spaces between the buildings that will give them more retail space (and office space above it) as I understand it
 ---------- to allow that the buildings can have a straight  front instead of the offset that they now have, which currently is required by code.
 ----------- special exception from the provisions that allow for change in the grade -  and approval to allow the cutting and filling of certain slopes to be 15% or steeper and they are asking for any other variances as may be determined by the zoning officer or zoning hearing board. 

_____

This plan certainly is an improvement over prior plans . but with the addition of 55,466 ft. of space how will the traffic be impacted...   earlier assessments by the Brandolini representatives as to the impact on traffic were nothing similar to what the residents thought could be expected.

And I, personally, would like to suggest that they have no variances at all unless they make the movie theater a movie theater again ------------------- as the residents are asking.  If  the developer would like to have more than what he bought based on concessions given him by the residents, than why would it not be reasonable for the residents to have a concession from him to meet their needs?   If no movie theater is to be had here, do the commissioners have a plan for one anywhere?  one of the things most sorely lacking in this Township is that we currently have to drive close to a half an hour to get to a movie theater.
 
8-19-08   Zoning Board Hearing was held - videotaped for televising.

 8-18-08   Although the Baederwood's Developers are not asking for the residential units or mega changes, as previously requested, I have been given to know that there is perhaps as much as 30,000 additional square feet in the plan ( for which no variance is needed except perhaps additional parking ----  is this the reason for the smaller parking  spaces being requested ?  And was a traffic study done on this ?)    They are apparently asking for parking spaces a foot narrower than called for by code and also asking for Commercial Parking on the sloped portion zoned R1 residential in the rear . Smaller spaces are, in my own opinion, definitely not in our interests ( as we are the ones who pay for the car repairs that result ) and I have no information in these preliminary requests as to why we need additional Commercial parking. I hope you will join me in asking your Commissioner to have a place where we can access this kind information on the township website. I have pieced what I know together from Commissioners Kline & Peacock & and neighbors, whom I thank. My Civic Association responded that they had no details for me on the Baederwood, so improving this information chain would be great thing to ask of our Commissioners. I believe a vote on the proposal may be possible when this hearing is concluded- yet I have yet to talk to a single resident who knows & understands fully what is being proposed . 

6-08  As of the end of last month apparently the plan has changed and the developer has indicated that they will try to restore the current shopping center, minus the movie theater and are taking the plans for the residential units off the table .  More when we have it .

5-08  SUMMARY 
Brandolini Companies apparently has  indicated that they are prepared to begin the formal approval process for redevelopment of the Center  which this observer finds surprising because  residents expressed such a great amount of concern about their most recent proposal.  Among the many questions that remain: the number of residential units, what the  retail mix will be ( Brandolini is not giving any specific information on this publicly ), fiscal impacts, traffic issues ( & especially traffic at the Susquehanna /Valley Rd intersection and through the neighborhoods off Rydal Rd ), infrastructure improvements, etc.

THE CATCH 
 There are approx  20 acres total .
     While the back 8.59 acres is only zoned R1  for 8 single family dwellings ,
    the front portion , along Valley Rd,  of 11.73 acres is zoned  PBD (Planned Business District )
    The PBD zoning allows them  rights to put  possibly as many as (720 ?)residential units .
         In order to reduce that high  number of units that were originally proposed looming
         right along the frontage of  Valley Rd, the developer has asked for us to change the
         use on the  rear property that is zoned R1.

PROPOSAL :  April 23, 2008 
180 residential units   age-restricted (55 and up) lease or rent (5 ?) story building
116,000 sq. ft. of retail mix of  local, regional & national stores
14,000 sq. ft of office use
No movie theater
Whole foods will stay as is
Texas Donut parking garage above ground
Not sure how many acres open space

 PROPOSAL : July 31, 2007
 266 residential units  - very possibly leased
average 1,500 sq ft
135,000 sq. ft. of retail
33,000 sq. ft. of office use
Whole Foods  will stay as is
782 parking spaces - including 103 in Texas Donut  Parking Garage  (wrapped inside residential)
7 story building  ( reaching 2 stories higher than Traders Joes which sits up on the hill )
3 Acres of Green Space

PROPOSAL : Jan to March, 2006
500  residential units  ( 2) 4 story apt buildings  -  1 apt building  250 units
227,000 retail  /office ( 2) 4 story retail buildings  ( 1) 2 story retail/office building
Whole Foods  - expands to 55,000 sq ft on 1st floor &  on 2nd floor 30,000
10 Screen Movie theater proposed on 2nd Floor of  Whole Foods
2000 Parking spots - many of which would be in an underground lot
Redevelopment Overlay  requested - change in Zoning was proposed to increase their allowed use

CURRENT SITUATION As of & up to 5-08
0  residential units
93,000 sq. ft. of retail
13,000 sq. ft. of office use
Parking 632 or 639 spaces
 

From Jan 08 to April 08,  Ward 7 Commissioner Ernie Peacock and  Ward  1 Commissioner  Steven Kline    solicited ideas and feedback from residents  then met twice with Brandolini as well as with  Township staff and State Rep Josh Shapiro.

The process from the point of submission of a proper plan by Brandolini, through review, approval and completion of the  project  could  take three to four years.

The April 23rd  Brandolini meeting aired April 25 through  April 28, 2008   on Channel 43  and we have requested that it be placed on the township website as a webcast for anyone who might have missed that . We'll report back if that happens.

  Who is Brandolini: A privately held development company on the Main Line that develops, owns, and maintains numerous retail, commercial & residential complexes . They had  4 properties (as of 3-06) in Montgomery County.

 The owner & Developer of the property

_____________________

April 23, 2008

Brandolini presented their sketch plan again  to the Planning Commission in a well attended meeting . They pretty much had the same sketch plan as last time but said  that although the concept was the same they were reducing the number of living units and other details a  bit.

This is our understanding of the latest proposal.
180 age-restricted residential units  ( after this meeting  - this is being reconsidered  - possibly to the 120 range )
116,000 sq.ft. of retail (which is 24,000 additional)
14,000 sq.ft. of office space (no change)
Whole Foods  as anchor (no change)
Amazingly - it was proposed that adding 180 units and increasing the retail square footage would not present  a very different traffic picture than we would have now, if the center were occupied.  It was , however, pointed out by residents and Planning Commission Members  that we currently have traffic tie-ups - (particularly at the Susquehanna /Washington Lane underpass ) and that is WITHOUT a fully occupied center. So adding these additional units - plus the additional (45 we believe)  that Rydal Park is currently building -as well as adding the 85 that may be built on the Rydal Waters tract.....;well - it  would strain the imagination to think there would not be a major impact.

$1,000,000 net tax revenue was their calculation -  we have no further analysis on that yet.
 

Residents had a variety of comments including requests again for a theater , fitness center   ( the response included references to a hoped for 15 min turnover of parking spaces ), pedestrian friendly area, traffic on neighboring streets , and owner occupied units desired as opposed to rental units ...
_________________________

March 26, 2008  Thanks to Commissioner Kline for keeping residents updated:

Dear Ward 1 Residents,

This is a follow up of yesterday’s “Broadcast E-mail”. The Abington Township Planning Commission meeting for April, where it is expected that Brandolini will present their redevelopment project for the Baederwood Shopping Center potentially including the Rydal Waters Tract, will be held on Wednesday, April 23rd at 7:30 pm. The meeting will be held in the Board Room on the second floor of the township building at 1176 Old York Road.

I would also like to announce the launching of a blog, kline4ward1.blog.com, I have set up for residents of Ward 1 and Abington Township to share their views and opinions respectfully. There are three threads setup on the blog, Baederwood Redevelopment, The New Trash System and Old York Road Revitalization. The web address for the blog is kline4ward1.blog.com.

Please forward this e-mail on to other Ward 1 residents and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Steven N Kline
Steven N Kline  
Abington Township   Commissioner Ward 1
phone - (215) 758-2702   fax  - (215) 886-8124  e-mail  - kline4ward1@comcast.net
web - www.kline4ward1.com

kline4ward1.blog.com

______________
March 25, 2008   
The latest update from Commissioner Kline - his contact info at bottom of letter:

 Dear Ward 1 Residents,
     As most of you are aware, Commissioner Ernie Peacock, Township Manager Tom Conway, Director of Code Enforcement and Zoning Larry Matteo, State Rep. Josh Shapiro and I were scheduled to meet with representatives from Brandolini Companies last Thursday, March 20th.  This meeting was cancelled because Brandolini has agreed to present their redevelopment proposal to the Abington Township Planning Commission.  This meeting will take place toward the end of April (specifics for meeting are to be determined).  This meeting will follow the guidelines set out in a Sketch Plan Review ordinance that I have proposed and will be considered for approval by the full board in the coming weeks.
      We are excited to see this project begin the public process.  This is the first and a very important step in this process and one which will allow us to hear your comments and concerns about their proposal.  Your comments and concerns are an extremely important component of the overall process.  As we have expressed before, we could not contemplate making any decisions regarding this redevelopment project if your anxieties, concerns and comments were not fully vetted.  This is your first opportunity not your last.
      Brandolini will present one of two projects to the Planning Commission.  One would be a redevelopment project just incorporating the Baederwood Shopping Center property and the other would be a redevelopment project incorporating both the Baederwood Shopping Center property and the Rydal Waters tract.  This will depend on Brandolini finalizing an agreement of sale with the current owner of the Rydal Waters tract, which Brandolini has indicated that they are very close to doing.
   During this Sketch Plan Review the Planning Commission will review the project with the following criteria, as written in the proposed ordinance.
           1. Conformity with the Township's Comprehensive Plan.

2. Concerns of residents affected by the project proposed in the tentative sketch plan.

3. The impacts of projects similar to the project proposed in the tentative sketch plan, and how any negative impacts might be avoided.

4. The compatibility of the project proposed in the tentative sketch plan with the other master planning initiatives within the township (i.e. Old York Road Corridor Study)

5. The compatibility of the project proposed in the tentative sketch plan with the Township Zoning Ordinance and with the applicable zoning districts in which the properties being proposed for redevelopment are zoned.

    The Planning Commission will make recommendations to the applicant so that they may adjust or reconsider the proposed redevelopment project to address the concerns and constructive criticism expressed during the sketch plan review process.  The Board of Commissioners will not take any formal action on the recommendations and comments expressed during this sketch plan review.

  Once the specific of this meeting is determined, I will notify you of the date, time and location.  I am also hopeful that there will be some plan in which I can post on my website for viewing prior to the meeting.  All of these details will be worked out in the next couple of weeks.

     Please forward this e-mail on to other Ward 1 residents and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.  Also feel free to share any comments or concerns you might have concerning the contents of this e-mail and/or this project.
Steven N Kline
  
Abington Township   Commissioner Ward 1
phone - (215) 758-2702   fax  - (215) 886-8124  e-mail  - kline4ward1@comcast.net
web - www.kline4ward1.com

 

Thanks to Commissioner Kline for keeping us all updated !

______________________________

7-31-07  Details of the property & the  most recent  Brandolini proposal as we understand it  appear below- please correct anything that you find that is wrong or send us info to add . Please check out any info with your township before relying on it . This is not an "official" site but we have not been able to convince our Township to make one to keep its residents informed.

If you would like to share feedback with us on this proposal, please click here .

Square Feet
Currently 107,000 sq ft of retail  & office space
Proposed : 168,000 sq ft  plus 266 apartment units units average 1,500 sq ft  including 7 story building
Requested - that the units be Age Restricted so as to limit influx into the school district among other things

Parking:
Current Parking  Approx 639 ( or 632 ?)
Proposed  782 which includes a 103  space parking garage in the middle of the apartment units .
(Despite an additional 400,000 + sq ft of development which includes 266 units - an increase of very few spaces, it would seems, for so much greater a need . It was pointed out that this exceeds township requirements)

Green Space
Only 3 acres of green space will remain -behind the apartments .

Traffic
proposal to re-do the Rydal Rd intersection so the Fairway is dominant and Rydal Rd  traffic has to stop
signalization along the Fairway
Widening of Susquehanna Rd to include another lane at the area where it meets the Fairway
No improvemnts to the Railroad bridge underpass seem possible .  It is our understanding they  must contribute or pay to keep traffic at the level that it is today  ( both intersections currently are rated "C" in an A to F rating system ) 
 

Water run-off
More to come on this - my understanding is that they will "time release the water " to prevent  flooding downstream - or collect it in a way that releases it differently - but I'm not sure I understand that yet .....

What stores?
Whole Foods will stay - No other tenants will be revealed at this point (despite resident requests)

Variances?
 Use and dimensional variances seem to be necessary, but in the meeting the impression seemed to be given by Brandolini that this concept was within the rights that they currently have. We will have to learn more & let you know. It is possible that an "Overlay Ordinance" will again be sought - where rather than trying to fight for the variances, they just propose a change in zoning for the area that brings their plan into compliance.  We will let you know if we learn more. 

AGAIN: IF YOU HAVE CONTRARY INFORMATION TO ANY OF THIS, PLEASE INFORM US.


_______________________________________________

7-31-07 A packed crowd at the Jr High  while Brandolini  Companies presented a 3 hr long presentation on their latest concept - 266 residential units,  168,000 sq ft of Commercial space including one building 7 stories high, a parking garage, 3 acres of green space

This concept was developed with input from a group of about 16 Abington residents and various others including  2  township staff members.  The group as noted earlier was hand-picked - it was not open to others interested in the development of their area. ( Correction- I first reported here that a  representative from that group suggested that the group was pleased with the plan being presented tonite- but that speaker was instead a member of the Economic Development  Council.  After writing this someone shared their thought that the  comments of the   workgroup/focus group at the end of the process seemed  mixed, in both deep concerns about the effect of this development on the surrounding neighborhoods and excitement of a development that could offer some destination and interest to Abington’s commercial areas)

 While nearly everyone agrees that the entire shopping complex needed an update and while we are all enthusiastic about seeing something new and exciting, it is clear that some kinds of  development can change the entire nature of our community, causing traffic tie-ups, and a strain on the tax base due to improvements needed to mediate problems that are caused and a long term burden if the center is not thriving and  successful.  The consequences of this development on the community are enormous - so it is important to do it as well as we can the first time round.  Residents obviously understand this as evidenced by the numbers present tonite.
       
 In offering this synopsis, please note we may not have gotten all details right – and we ask you to confirm with your Commissioner  anything that is of concern or interest to you before accepting it as fact from this synopsis & let us know if we should correct something here.  This is just an effort to help share information that is hard to find readily available. The meeting was filmed. I am hoping it will be run on our government channel.  A township camera could also have captured this - we would encourage their use for such purposes so costs would be minimal.

The plan included, if we  understood correctly,  aproximately 60,000 additional Commercial sq ft and 266 residential units (of approximately 1500 sq ft average - mostly 2 or 3 bedroom units).  

Whole Foods will be staying.  Brandolini would not discuss at all what stores it was targeting as other customers for the Plaza, a point that was repeatedly brought up by residents. 

 Only three acres of open space would be left.

Parking issues are still somewhat unclear.  Although they meet and slightly exceed the township requirements on parking, we still don't have a clear picture of exactly how many spaces an additional 450,000 sq. ft. would warrant .  Only 47 more are proposed in front and 103 in a parking garage.  How many additional are they scattered on the sides and back?  ( After this writing, the Times Chronicle Published that 782  parking spaces  would be provided in the proposed plan. )

 Brandolini's traffic expert  discussed the Rydal Rd. intersection and discussed the Susquehanna and Valley intersection, but somehow totally omitted the Washington Lane/Susquehanna underpass out of their discussions.  While proposing an additional lane at the bottom of the eastbound route on Susquehanna where it meets Valley Rd, they didn't want to mention that the traffic under that bridge is already backed up ----------so most cars up the hill would probably have trouble getting down to the area that was expanded- nor did I hear  how many additional cars one might expect with 450,000 additional developed sq. ft .  Obviously I may have misunderstood something  so we will hope for some specifics on this issue to clear this up. 

    Brandolini suggested this location offered   approximately 10,000 people who live within one mile , about 107,000 people within 3 miles and  about 400,000 within a 5 mile radius.  While this figure is presented to comfort us on the economic health of the Plaza, we have to now try to imagine what happens  to the traffic & the parking if they are building something that needs to draw from, say, the 400,000 to thrive.  The train was noted as a prime benefit to the center.  While it would be convenient for residents of the 266 units  for a sojourn downtown, will the expanded center & the train together not also bring shoppers from the city, workers from the city and transients of various sorts to the area?   The impact is on the neighborhoods and the people that now live, work and play in this area. 

      The 7 story building  proposed was  in apparent conflict with  a township regulation that limits to six stories was  presented and not problematic because the building remained within the height requirements.  ( Originally the elevations were presented as comparative “sea-level” elevations . The Plaza’s 7 story elevation (in a valley) was  presented as  similar to the elevations of buildings like Trader Joe’s ( that are up on a hill )  .

The township taxes currently paid are approximately $350,000.  Brandolini suggested it would be paying more than 2 million dollars in additional annual taxes. ( But we did not catch any figures on the increased costs to the township in services, including road improvements, police, fire, school etc ) A number of residents including school board members, emphasized the need for the community to be age restricted as the need to build & staff additional schools would impact the community negatively if families were to move in. 

  From the residents, among the ideas put forth : a performing arts center was suggested – more green space was encouraged  -  units with larger than 1500 sq ft were  suggested – pedestrian improvements in the area were  requested  - open committees (such as the group that helped in the planning)  were requested, where those invited were not “hand-picked” but chosen from among all residents interested.
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7-24-07  The Redevelopment Overlay ordinance has apparently been dropped. 

7-07 It has been an interesting time - Apologies for being behind on updates - will get you more information  soon on the overlay ordinance etc.   Commissioner Agostine bluntly told us at an earlier meeting, in no uncertain terms, that we were  NOT invited to be part of the discussions  & that she would  hand-pick the group that SHE decided was appropriate to  discuss the development of the complex.  More on that when we get a minute - A public meeting is apparently now scheduled as noted above - for July 31st.

3-07 Just when you think you've seen everything ------Brandolini came back with a plan ---but apparently also with  a proposal ......for an Ordinance . The Redevelopment Overlay Ordinance .  Amazingly, yes, the Developers are proposing to provide a Developer friendly  ordinance. I guess if we are sleeping  they can do just that.  Will get more on that as we go .

1 -20-07  Murray's Delicatessen after 43 years  has closed its doors and the Moreland shop after 32 years is closing as well.  There was a meeting again on Jan 10th between Brandolini , Commissioner Agostine, Mr Conway, Township Manager and  Mr Herder , the Township Solicitor.  Brandolini offered a reductiuon in the number of Condo units it sought but that number still is way above what is allowed by zoning.  Apparently month to month leases are being extended and some owners may possibly be offered additional leases.  But many shopowners have been discouraged to not be able to plan ahead and for some they must order & commit way in advance for goods that will be sold in the coming fall.  It is expected  there may be another meeting of the same folks in February  and sometime in February  they may hold an open meeting.  

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10-06  Commissioner Doretta Agostine emails various constituents and groups that Brandolini is planning a meeting to present their "concept" again on  October 25th.  We are not, however, notified in this email of their plan to appear before the Planning Commission on the next night.   Both of these meetings are cancelled. There was apparently also a meeting held with Brandolini earlier where we believe  Doretta Agostine, Larry Matteo and our solicitor may have been present.   We have had no official reports of what resulted from that meeting.
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6-28-06 Update  by the Times Chronicle - reprinted with permission.

Baederwood Theater to shut doors
By: Kyle Schulz, Staff Writer
06/28/2006 For Abington Commissioner Doretta Agostine, the closing of Baederwood Theater June 30 means only one thing.  
"It seems like they're trying to shut down little mom and pop businesses in favor of big corporations," she said. Agostine is upset with Brandolini Companies' refusal to renew a lease for the theater, as well as for other retailers in the shopping center. "It feels like a slap in the face to the community," she said. But Agostine is particularly upset with the theater's closing, which she said is a main attraction for area teenagers during the summer. "It's a loss for the community," she said. "It's a shame they couldn't extend [the lease for the movie theater] two more months through the summer." The problem stems from an agreement made in June 2005, when Brandolini bought the shopping center from co-owners Chase McDaniel and Don Wilkins. According to McDaniel, Brandolini agreed to allow McDaniel and Wilkins to run the theater on a one-year, rent-free lease until June 30, 2006. As June rolled around, negotiations for a continuance of the lease began, but according to McDaniel, Brandolini suddenly stopped the negations without any explanation, and bought out the theater. Agostine said the reason she was given from a representative for Brandolini Cos., was that by extending the lease, the buyout price for the theater would increase. It's a problem many of the retailers in the shopping center are running into when trying to negotiate leases with Brandolini, Agostine said. "This is a tragedy for my community," Agostine said. "It feels like they're trying to get the plaza empty." Denise Yarnoff, an attorney for Brandolini Cos., declined to comment on the company's decision to stop lease negations because it is still an ongoing legal matter. "This is really a private issue between two parties," she said. According to Agostine, the company told McDaniel and Wilkins to have everything in the theater cleared out by June 30. "It seems to me that if they are so intent to clearing everything out, then they want to demolish it," she said. At a neighborhood meeting held in March, representatives for Brandolini Cos. unveiled their plans for the shopping center, which include 500 apartment units, retail stores, office space, a 55,000-square-foot Whole Foods market, and a 10-screen movie theater that will occupy the second floor of the Whole Foods market. But according to Agostine, much of the area where the Whole Foods market and theater will extend to is currently zoned for residential use. "What they're trying to do would require many variances," Agostine said. "It's way more then what the community can bare."

3-13-06   A meeting with the developer Brandolini  and Abington Township residents on March 13th , 2006 over the planned development of the Baederwood Plaza saw a turnout of nearly 100 Abington residents.  An expansion of the Whole Foods store, as well as increased retail and office space and an expanded movie theater, approximately 500 residential units and 2000 parking spaces, largely underground,  are being considered for the Plaza.  Questions about  the increased traffic flow prevailed, among questions about what will happen to the current stores, what variances are needed, the impact on our school system and other important issues.   Many questions have yet to be answered as the developer said this is just in the beginning stages of its planning. 

Please check Channel 66 Fri March 25 thru to the following Weds to see excerpts from the meeting

Please also be sure to support the use of Channel 43 to air the township meetings so you can follow this on TV. Commissioners Weilheimer and O'Connor have supported this, but  until March 13th Commissioner Agostine would not openly support it.  In an interview the next day she relayed that she could support it but did not feel that most of her constituents had cable .

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3-24-06   March 28th Planning Commission meeting meeting with the developer cancelled  for the time being.
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