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

Galman Property
 261 Old York Rd
Foxcroft / Fox Pavillion /Applebees/  Burlington/ Acme  etc ....   


     THE OWNERS IN 2017 MAY BE  CONSIDERING NEW PROPOSALS FOR THE  PIECE OF GROUND & PARKING  TO THE FAR RIGHT OF  THE PARCELS THAT  FRONT ON OLD  YORK RD .   AFTER MUCH PUSH BACK FROM RESIDENTS , THEY ABANDONNED EFFORTS IN 2013  TO PUT A LONGHORN STEAK HOUSE THERE . WE HAVE HEARD TELL THAT AS OF JUNE 2017 THEY ARE ANTICIPATING  SOMETHING AGAIN  - POSSIBLY A  WAWA OR ALTERNATIVELY A STEAKHOUSE.  NO DOCUMENTS HAVE YET BEEN SEEN, SO, SO FAR THIS MAY BE CONSIDERED ONLY "RUMOR"  .   Stay tuned........

NOTE: The zoning on this property was affected by the Township -wide zoning that
was passed  May 2017. That means that the property owner now has different used by right . Ask your Commissioner to explain what has changed. HERE IS THE 2017  REWRITE PLAN THAT WAS PASSED  
http://www.abington.org/home/showdocument?id=6055  

   YOUR HELP NEEDED    Please call your Commissioner and also your Township Manager 
267-536-1001 Richard Manfredi, and ask for a SINGLE PAGE  to be created on the Township website for this issue.
This page would have all the links to relevant documents, meetings, and information on this  issue. 
And ask them  to video tape all meetings .  


PRIOR EFFORTS  :  Longhorn Steakhouse 
The Galman Property near the Fox Pavillion & Lenox Rd  
 

 (Formerly the "Tip Aquisition"  now... as of 1-13 the Longhorn Steakhouse"

 January 29, 2013  Longhorn Steakhouse meeting---  Attorney for Galman,  Marc Jonas   opened with a presentation of  the Longhorn Steakhouse proposal ( Jonas  also happens to be (the chair of ?) the Montgomery County Planning Commission, an agency who would be asked for their advice as to whether to proceed on this project.  He also happens to be the attorney currently for Bruce Goodman in the  Wawa proposal after the Motor Vehicle  Fueling Center ordinance that was just pushed through at Baeder road ….) 

   Here are some rough notes from 1-29-13  the meeting - if you spot errors please help us correct them  --  
    Mr. Jonas reminded the residents that the PB zoning district allows for lots of uses including restaurants.  The new restaurant will need additional parking  ( hence the 1.6 acres that was bought from the trust that owns the Abington country club golf course one or two holes will be  "assimilated " - i.e. paved over) Despite the paving over , Mr. Jonas assures us it will improve what is draining from the site. A resident reminded him that the Planning Commission had shot down a restaurant.  The resident was told that the Planning Commission is just an advisory board.  Another resident mentioned that we have very little recreational zoned property left but  acres and acres of vacant and unused properties.  He asked how it makes sense to pave over recreational property in light of that?  Commissioner Willis said that the old York Road corridor  is where they want these kinds of Commercial ventures to be   ( he did not address the paving of the greenspace  - nor the fact that these "ventures" abutt residential )
     One resident  got a show of hands so that Mr. Jonas and the representatives from Darden restaurants & the others on the developer's team could see that everyone in the room was opposed. I did not see  a single hand go  up in favor.   Mr. Jonas said sometimes there are trade-offs.  Some people don't like change.  He mentioned there are 30 or 40 uses that could be put in today including restaurants-by right- and every one of them could be put right on the site. (To many of us listening,  it was sounded like a bit of a "threat" -- in other words something much worse could be put in) He said by doing it this way ( approving more than they had a right to have? )  we're in a position to have much more control.  He called the residents' reactions a knee-jerk reaction.  He mentioned that they were preserving a "finger of space"  - a small strip-  to keep as recreational buffer zone that they are"willing to provide" to the residents .  One resident later  interjected some humor by acknowledging  yes , we recognize that you are giving us the "finger"........  The humor was appreciated in the tense meeting.. at least by the residents.
   The developer's team
 spoke about putting in berms and plantings for screening at the top of the berms, to provide a buffer-or maybe to provide fencing to manage activity across that area and to mitigate noise, lights etc.  The site goes from a high elevation to a low elevation and they plan to excavate from 9 to 2 feet and will " depress the building into the land "   affecting the sight line.

   Most of the storm water would be captured and delivered to a retention basin-there is going to be a swale or possibly a  basin,  vegetated with (water) tolerant plants.  They also have odor mitigation units that can be added to exhaust fans etc.  They have optional odor removal modules included ( as one resident later pointed out- the operative word was "optional" ) .   The representative from Bohler ( Engrs? )  said that the basins are generally 2 to 3 feet deep.  The new DEP regulations have moved away from the ones that are deeper and don't drain.  The developer's  team insisted that new buildings with storm water management can make things better.  (Although residents have become aware of many places in the Township where they were told this would be the case but it turned out to be quite different )   
it was explained that this is not a legal maneuver but a legislative one-they are asking for a zoning change.  Commissioner Commissioner Willis mentioned that they amended the whole zoning ordinance for the Motor Vehicle Fueling Center use  and although  he opposed it, something like this has a decent chance of passing as well .  T
 A resident brought up the fact that all kinds of promises could be made for what was being proposed here but once the zoning was changed, lots of other things could happen - the property could get sold or someone could go bankrupt and the residents would be stuck with anything that fit in the new zoning.  Jonas said there are ways to get around that - with deed restrictions and covenants and such.  Jonas said he spent a year creating the LA fitness site,  working with neighbors and they were hopeful that would be a catalyst for more development in that area. 
  A resident asked whether this was in the Tookany Taconey Frankford watershed and the answer, by zoning staff member Mark Penecale, was that yes, it was, and it affected  the calculations involved in how to manage the water . He talked about pumping past Cheltenham and around into Philadelphia ( an expensive proposition - we did not hear who absorbs the cost- developer or taxpayers.... )   Two of the three watersheds now have new conditions---   
   One resident said he lives at the bottom of the hill and  in last two or three years it's gotten so bad ---  there is a huge drainage problem.  Another resident suggested that pipes at the bottom of the hill are broken and need to be repaired.  One resident said he was unhappy with the pressure Jonas was placing on the residents in a kind of ultimatum fashion - that you can either do this and we'll accommodate you  or we're  going to do what you don't like.   Others in the room nodded  and expressed agreement .  The resident continued by mentioning the number of empty storefronts and the fact that this would benefit the corporate entity and be in his favor, but residents would face the headlights and the odors and all of the downsides.
  Mr. Jonas  chided him for taking the glass half empty position  and accused him of twisting words and said that the site is already zoned PB.  Another resident suggested that Mr. Jonas was reinforcing the resident's point about his behavior.  When another  resident mentioned litigation, Mr. Jonas leaned in and accused her of changing the tenor of the conversation. 
     
There was a brief discussion about who owned the golf course which was said to be owned by the Barnes trustees and I am unclear as to whether the final result was one or two  holes that are gone.  It was suggested that the owner has a plan to put athletic fields on the other side.  Mark Penecale said there was a resolution that prohibited the site from having smaller leased portions years ago. (did I understand correctly? ) and  they needed to keep the golf course in order to keep the greenspace for the whole Fox Pavilion area.  The last development was the Foxcroft in 2007 or 2008--  the percentages required , apparently,  have not changed and if you develop this greenspace you have to account for it somewhere else.  The more coverage that goes in, the more greenspace you have to keep somewhere.  The recreational portion is (or was?)  38%.  Not sure I understood correctly but I think they said they have to maintain 38% green in the Fox development and the 38% was in the RC district.  They knew that the front half of the development was overdeveloped so they put in this resolution to make sure the entire parcel stayed together-----  it was a health safety and welfare issue.

   A resident said that all of this matters to land values and speaks to how much recreational space there is  in our area.  Another resident asked about # of seats versus parking spaces and apparently there are 246 seats planned in the restaurant and 242 parking spaces.  This is over parking  for the restaurant- some of it is for the Pavilion ( I will assume the Pavilion needs a set amount of parking space in order to meet "number of spaces per square feet") 
    There was then another confrontational portion where Mr. Jonas again accused a resident of twisting things although the resident had represented what seemed to be the sentiments of most in the room.  Another  resident asked Mr. Jonas if he was the chair of the Montgomery County planning commission and he responded that he was on the board. Another resident commented on the cars being 10 deep just going through the light at that intersection.  Mr. Jonas was advised by a resident that what he'd heard tonight was that the residents do not want this . 
      There are surely some errors in this account ( honestly I was writing as fast as I could ). If anyone in attendance would like to send me corrections please do and I will be glad to post those if you request me to.     
   If you hear anything further on the submission of this project, please let me know.  All residents should call their Commissioner and ask for two things 1) that submissions of proposals such as this are immediately posted on the website with a link to the details as soon as they are proposed & mailed out to all residents they have emails for  and 2) that all meetings pertaining to this be video taped and aired for those who cannot make them or those who would like to review.    
  I would also like to add a note here : 
   The situation both in Abington and in Cheltenham with sewage and storm water is at an absolute crisis.  Millions of dollars are being spent on this problem while developers, such as in this instance, are requesting to have even more than their normal rights and paving over greenspace in the process.    The cost of "rerouting" the wastewater and stormwater is enormous and in no way bourne  by those demanding the rights in excess of what they bought and should be held to.  The continueddecrease of recreational space in a burgeoning township is  yet another affront. Yes – all this is just my opinion -  but I the opinion is shared by many - who simply don't know how to stop this steamroller.   It IS necessary to participate to keep our communities  at all a ressemblance of the places we chose to call "home" .  Contact me if you would like to help.


 

    THE FORMER  PROPOSAL  IN EARLY 2012 WAS FOR RESTAURANT AND OFFICES 
 
  Developer Galman (Owner/Manager  of Fox Pavillion and other properties in the same complex) is applying for a Zoning Change  ( not variances )  to build on a piece of ground between  the Fox Pavillion and Lenox Rd .  A good  portion of the property is currently zoned  RC Recreational Conservation District  and they would like to convert it to PB  Planned Business Use .  Variances need a hardship. Zoning changes are largely at the discretion of the Commissioners.
       Properties on & near Lenox Rd already experience a great deal of flooding . Residents are concerned about not only the flooding , but also about the type of property that will be built, about the lighting, the increased traffic, the noise, the reduced green area township wide,  etc.   The conversion from Recreational Use to Planned Business Use  is symptomatic of the "overbuilding" that is being allowed via both variances and zoning changes .
     
 Residents are being told that the  drainage will be managed in a water retention pond and with slow release or  "time-release" methods". In other areas of the township where these assurances have been given, residents have related stories that indicate multiple problems with these methods.  

Feb 28 2012  Planning Commission agenda wording

The planning commission has been asked to review and provide comment on the zoning change application of Tip acquisition LP , owners of the property located at 261 Old York Rd.

the applicant has requested that the Township of Abington consider a zoning change for a portion of the property defined within the meets and bounds description submitted with the application.

The applicant requests approval to change the zoning on a 1.697 acre tract of ground currently zoned within the (RC) Recreational Conservation District to the (PB)  Planned Business District.  This application does not involve any proposed construction or other improvements at this time.

Nov 2011  Ordinance being proposed that would amend the current zoning and allow for a restaurant    Click here to view the draft -  this may already have changed . No action has been taken on it as of 2-14-12

    Nov 2011 Petition  The Lenox neighbors (all but one on Lenox ) and others nearby , signed a petition in Nov 2011 saying that they opposed any zoning change to the parcel that would permit a restaurant or club .

    FEMA map (circa end of  2011  ) - This property does not currently show up as within a Flood Plain boundary. (These new maps still have not been officially adopted as of this writing - but they are expected to be .  There is a creek that runs the subject property  and to the end of Lenox showing stream at end of Lenox

 

 TIME RELEASE WATER METHODS   Problems reported with the  time release systems that have previously been installed include for instance that  while some may be helped, others that never flooded before are now being affected .  And people who live along the creeks & streams where the water is being diverted often experience the effect of constant saturation of the ground so when a simple rain occurs the ground cannot absorb it .  The more green space we lose to absorb water , the more it is diverted into the streams and what was one person's problem now becomes another's. 

   USE  THE TOOLS AVAILABLE TO YOU
Ask your Commissioners and your Township manager (click here) specifically to :

1) ...post a SINGLE webpage on this with links to find meetings, updates & all the plans
2) ...tape  all meetings on this topic & air them on our public channel -
the devil is really in the details
           -then  you can review or catch up on a meeting you missed . This is actually important .
3) ... post all the tape

_   USE  THE TOOLS AVAILABLE TO YOU
Ask your Commissioners and your Township manager (click here) specifically to :

1) ...post a SINGLE webpage on this with links to find meetings, updates & all the plans
2) ...tape  all meetings on this topic & air them on our public channel -
the devil is really in the details
           -then  you can review or catch up on a meeting you missed . This is actually important .
3) ... post all the taped meetings on-line with time reference points and fast forward features
4) .. create an email list for all updates and - invite ALL residents via Township & Commissioners
            lists to be on it so they can receive updates in their box if they desire
5) ...provide a meeting space ( already paid by your taxes ) for neighbors to hold their own open
            discussions whenever they choose - not called by or moderated by authorities.
6) ... provide residents  a summary of  all changes  being proposed in  2 column/compare style
7)  Finally: neighbors, please make your own meetings open to all  - if you try to limit
             transparency hoping to benefit only your point of view, then you will find it limited
                for yourself  --- you will be part of the problem not the solution


Email me if you need help contacting others.   I also have a great deal of information about how our processes work and what is happening elsewhere in the Township that might be helpful to your situation.

 
                                    __________

 

     Please feel free to send your  information to us  and please be sure to  tell us about any information you believe to be incorrect - write  lel@abingtoncitizens.com

 
 

BROKEN LINKS ALERT  

Abington Township recently completely revamped their website at the end of 2015 . All links directed to the old site were broken. We will be reinstating links as we find them and if the data is still available.  
Please  let us know if you find a broken link . Send us the name of the link and the page it is on , and if we can reinstate it, we will.

 


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