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

 

Rydal Waters Development
Behind Rydal Park  and behind the Baederwood Shopping Center going  all the way to  York Rd.

 Please feel free to send  info on this issue or opinions about it -
Please be sure to correct any errors you may see by letting us know about them

         The  ground that we know as Rydal Waters, behind Rydal Park, once was part of  the Harbison Farm  or tract that included 35 acres- (part of which  at some point in time may have been  part of the Baederwood  Golf Course.)   The land was within the “D zoning”  originally, which was rather equivalent to our “R1” now - allowing 1 home per acre.  But approx.  20 acres of it got zoned A/O ( Apartment /Office) - no one is quite sure when that happened.  Rydal Park’s owners, Presby Inspired Life,  bought the acreage  in the 1980's  -  minus the Harbison House that sat on 2-3 acres. They sought and obtained denser development on the front parcel  for Rydal Park  and at one point, perhaps still in the 80’s, they apparently obtained  approval to build 280 apartments or more on that  A/O part.  The  R1 residential and would have been untouched in that plan  in order to provide the required green space.  The apartment proposal met with difficulties .....  the height of the building among the chief offenders.  The neighbors were not happy at all to have a skyscraper next door.

   
   The front  acres where the Rydal Park complex now sits, about   22 acres by 2018  has well over 5-600 units of one kind or another on it,  including residence, office and medical units. So the land went from 22 units, at 1 per acre, to perhaps 5-600 or  more .. It is difficult to count  everything: independent living units are (320), skilled care/rehab beds (114), personal care units were at one time 60, memory care units…. offices….. chapel…. amenity rooms,   etc. ---- and of course parking for all of that . If you are counting just residents alone it might be 4-500 . Either way , it is many, many  times increased. 


    Rydal Waters, which sits uphill from Rydal Park and has frontage on Old York Rd., has had a rough ride historically.  In 2004, the Elliot Building Group  bought  the R1 & AO parcel  and the Harbison tract of 2-3 acres so they were under single ownership and could be rezoned together.

This article dated 9-3-04 describes a proposal for     “87-home community
to be built on a 34.7-acre tract off of Brook Road at the southern end of Huntingdon Road. The Elliot Building Group, the builder proposing the development, plans a loop-style design with a single entrance and exit onto Old York Road.  The subject property consists of an approximate 20-acre parcel zoned "Apartment Office" and about 17 acres zoned R1. Because township zoning laws require individual lots to be at least 1 acre in size in R1 zoning or configured in a cluster fashion, most of the homes are slated for the AO parcel.”

  The name of the Elliot   development was to be Parkside. The zoning was ultimately changed to NR  Neighborhood Residential, eliminating the split zoning. The new zoning  accomplish several things, including a larger buffer area for neighboring homes , preservation of more large trees and open space moved closer  to the existing homes. The number of units went through many changes but  it was approved for 85 homes calculated this way
           
20.44 acres  ( Zoned AO  would accommodate 75 units ) 
        +  14 acres ( Zoned R1 Residential would accommodate 9 units )
             1  unit was existing (the estate)
         =85 units  (plus  10 Acres Open Space that would be located on R1 Portion)
           Special exception needed - steep slope disturbance
    

In 2006, the forests were clear cut – despite all the attempts to save the forested area. This caused an uproar.

By 2007 the Elliot Building Group had imploded . Gone bankrupt. 

2008  In essence, the tract was rezoned and clear cut, and subsequently  (circa 2008?) Presby Inspired Homes acquired it  back (rumor had it at a price thought to possibly be in the $14 -$19 million range – but no confirming documents found) and  began its plans for Rydal Waters .  Their expected closing on the buy back was early June 2008)   When they bought it had been approved for  84  or 85  units   Another proposal was then raised by residents,  re: keeping development more to the interior of the property &  open space closer to Old York Road, Brook Road and Huntingdon Road . A zoning change would be required.    This more desirable Open Space placement would come with a request by the developer to allow 97 age restricted units, instead of the already approved 85  units.

In an  8-26-08 the  Planning Commission Meeting  Rydal Waters presented a sketch plan to request the additional units – the 97 instead of 85 single family units. The last variance that had been approved was approved for detached units. The  97  are apparently not all detached and a "reverse subdivision " was then  requested where they would  all be on one parcel instead of having individual lots.

12-4-08  A Hearing was held at Township Building .   A presentation of the newest plan was given -  Proposed were 96 units approximately .   The old Harbison Estate will become a clubhouse  and a swimming pool is planned.    The units were to be Lease for Life - under a contract . They will be 1750sq ft to 2400 sq ft - each with a two car garage. Some are twins - some are singles.

The units will have no more than two occupants  with no dependent children &  at least  one of whom is 62 . (They changed that later, in 2017,   to 55)    If caretakers are involved , additional occupants are allowed.    The occupants will have use of the amenities at Rydal Park. With the exception that they are on separate pieces of land, Rydal Park & Rydal Waters are to be considered a single integrated community.   The community will be gated and closed at night completely. In the day time, Abington residents are allowed to use the grounds for walking.    No one spoke in opposition to the plan.

2009- Plan approved.

12-20-10   Rydal Waters  - The prior plan passed in 2009 .  There are now  96 or 97  "garden apartments and independent living units"  approved  and the plan now has  streets, sewer, and electric.  The 96 or 97 that was supposedly in exchange  for them moving things away from the residences  reverted back to 84-85 units  somewhere along the line ( not sure where ). 
So the  tract  was ultimately rezoned to  SNR (Senior Neighborhood Residential ) with a 62 +  age limit . The SNR zoning is found  on page 31 here
http://www.abington.org/home/showdocument?id=6055   and  ultimately 84-85 cottage homes or garden units – singles and twins – were decided on and that remained the number in the plan through to 2017 or 2018 as it was marketed.
Rydal Park  is adding their  new medical center  and will turn it's old one into more units when that is done . 

 4-17   They were advertising the Rydal Waters units  by 4-17 at www.RydalWaters.org  At that time they expected to break ground in 2018 and open by 2019 --- but by 2018 that plan had moved up to a 2020 opening .

11-17  Presby Inspired Life came back  to the Board of Commissioners and asked  to change the age limit from 62  to 55+ ( regulations for this allow 18 and over to live there as long as one member is 55 years old )  They also asked for a change to the impervious  restrictions (due to steep slope)  to accommodate their already constructed sidewalks. (Developers are now regularly amending our ordinances to suit their individual needs.)

As of  the end of  2018, the tract is still empty and being advertised to prospective  residents.  The units themselves are not owned by the residents in them . They purchase a contract that can range from $400,000  or more , to $900,000 or more,  and if they leave they get back  all but 10% of what they initially paid, I am given to understand.   In addition they pay a monthly fee that is also quite substantial.   It is unknown how many contracts have been sold by 2018,  but though they had originally expected to have residents in 2019 they now expect to open in 2020. 

 

BROKEN LINKS ALERT  

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