THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN BEING USED AS A BACK
DOOR FOR TOWNSHIP WIDE REZONING
TO BENEFIT DEVELOPERS
This is just not right !
NEXT MEETING - check township website & calendar - for
the December meeting But we have asked them to hold an open mic
zoom or an in-person
roundtable meeting on the Future Land Use map as seen below
with the grey & dotted circles
The Nutshell :
Please see the map below - grey circles
indicate Mixed Residential Overlays- dotted line
circles indicate Transit Oriented Districts
that are distinguished by increased density, often of both
commercial and residential. Is your home inside one of
This is a clear abuse of
power here - as Manager Manfredi is accomplishing a goal that he
has hinted at often - opening up our recently passed zoning document and
amending it to HIS liking - to improve the bottom line of
his friends, the developers. This is the same manager who
will not assign a real person to answer the phone when you call
the Township, or make his code people cite violations to
improve blight and trash , who regularly refuses to meet with or talk to
residents or answer thsir questions and refuses to answer many
people's emails ( even if YOU'VE been lucky enough to get a
response once or twice - everyone isn't). But you can see
on this map below what he wants to be very busy with.
Development of YOUR properties .
Mr Manfredi and his
appointed team which includes and architect already busy with
his firm developing projects his colleagues have voted on - like
Penn State - and some that we haven't seen a vote on at
all- like the construction that went on in 2019 and 2020
and 2021 at the Township Building. Working at
Manager Manfredi's direction and pleasure, the Team is planning to
change as many of our neighborhoods as they can to the favor of
the developers - and change our shopping
districts, too- adding residential. The grey circles indicate areas which will
no longer be R1, R2, R3 or R4 --- the number of
units will grow exponentially - and most of our
commercial areas --- will (if he's allowed to continue like this
) allow Mixed Residential usage (apartments,
duplexes, townshouses, etc.). Imagine the influx of students
to the schools, or traffic on our already crowded roads, as
there is NO WAY of calculating how many units such a rezoning
could produce . Even just the "visioning" without the rezoning part,
will enable proposals to escape Spot Zoning laws. When an applicant asks for something
outside of his "by right" zoning, it can be approved without
being illegal Spot Zoning, if it is within the vision
of the Township Commissioners, because of
the recently enacted caselaw on Spot Zoning. So what they are
accomplishing just by CREATING this map, is the "vision" that
the developers want. It's open season in Abington. Therefore residents - be sure it
DOES reflect what YOU want before you let it pass
PLEASE FIND YOUR HOME & YOUR FRIENDS' & NEIGHBORS' AND
ALERT THEM IF THEY ARE WITHIN THESE CIRCLES
Manfredi: (16:30 mins)" again making sure the
relevance and consistency are measured against the Township’s
mission and vision to enhance the livability for Township
residents, considering any amendments to the zoning or
subdivision or land development ordinance (16 :54 mins) we have
sitting , right now, amendments to the zoning ordinance that
have been worked on for a year. That’s going to have to be
vetted - the zoning ordinance is going to have to be amended-
(inaudible) and you can be sure when the zoning ordinance
changes, & the subdivision ordinance changes that any text
amendments that might come about are
measured against the Comprehensive Plan that so many people have
spent so much time working on(
17:05 mins): And, of course, focusing on chapters that arecurrently
being developed, & in particular the Housing andFuture
Land Use plansfor the surrounding area.
" In addition on 11-13-21 Comr Mike Thompson told me the
last zoning in 2017 was done, he said, before the
Comprehensive Plan was done. And the Zoning should have been
done AFTER the Comprehensive Plan. So they are
theoretically re-doing the plan, it appears, with the intent of
then rezoning . But Comr Thompson is not correct. The last
zoning WAS done in conjunction with a proper Comprehensive Plan
- It took 8 years to do the Zoning - because they rezoned
absolutely EVERYTHING. And the zoning we had before that
remained solid for 21 years 1996 to 2017 . People who buy
property need to be able to rely on the zoning rights they
buy... and not have Comrs and township Managers appease
developers by changing it against the wishes of the voters.
Who benefits from this ?I think you can clearly see that of the
existing people - the ones paying Manager Manfredi's salary - there will be
little to no benefit to see Abington's lovely single family neighborhoods
compromised and diminished. These
homeownership is high and rentals are at a minimum are
Abington's strength. They are the reason we have good schools.
Homeowners care more about quality of life issues and less about
bottom lines --- which is what we have seen and can expect
more of if we allow the majority of housing to trun over
to "corporate ownership" where the homes are someone
else's "business", not their actual home. Apartments,
and other urban style housing inhabited by renters make
Abington less stable.
The Comprehensive Plan Committee itself posted its researched conclusion
that : "Homeownership rates are typically associated with neighborhood
stability and ahigh
level of home and property maintenance."
( they didn't think you would notice them advocating for
reduced homeownership on all
the susequent pages)
Why is Manager Manfredi being allowed to accomplish his rezoning
wish list by using the Comprehensive Plan?The impacts of the
recent rezoning are only just beginning to be seen and felt. The entire
Township was just totally rezoned in favor of developers in 2017. They
are just starting now to make those applications for the
increased rights . It was an eight year re-zoning process.
And not done in our interests. Manager
Manfredi doesn't even know the extent of some
rezoning decisions just made - not just the overall
rezoning - but even as a result of text and map amendments like
the YMCA rezoning that will impact other properties they refused
to discuss. Now Manager Manfredi wants
to open the zoning code again - on his whim - and help developers
zoning Township wide in a way that would compromise our
beautiful single family home neighborhoods - even though his
team's OWN research states emphatically that homeownership
is superior. Why would THAT not be our goal?
Instead, everything AFTER that lovely analysis in the
Comprehensive Plan says that they
seek to be more like the communities with less stability and
lower maintenance. Huh?
zoning - driven by the Township NOT BY
PROPERTY OWNERS --usually we are concerned about
greedy property owners
improperly influencing the approval of their applications . But
here we see the Township working IN ADVANCE on
their behalves - so they don't even have to apply for a variance
or text & map amendment. . They have our paid officials doing
that work for them these days. Hence the over 30 %
increase in taxes you have had in the few years since Manfredi's
The worst part of it is that the residents
have no clue.Notification that had perennially been a part of
responsible government has been dropped completely under
Mnafredi Hecker and Spiegelman. There
have been as of this writing, 11 meetings on the Willow Grove
Mall. Most residents got one notice and then never knew about the
other meetings, were not told where to look and the
information was purposely made hard to get.
Developers and their attorneys and consultants have been allowed
to tell the public things that are completely untrue and
Manfredi, with the blessing of the Board leadership, John
Spiegelman and Tom Hecker - has provided no place to
get any misinformation corrected - eroding our speaking rights
more each year . The three of them, themselves have told untruths
to residents, while simultaneously
your participation in your government and ushering developers in with special
consideration and unwarranted use of our staff and resources.
Astounding conflicts of interest.....
The Comprehensive Plan team is
led by Ward 6 Commissioner Michael Thompson and County Planner
who co-wrote the developer's ordinance for him Michael Narcowicz
. Can you say "conflict of interest" . Michael Narcowicz
is part of the Montco Planning Commission that reviews projects
for compliance with County & Township codes and standards ---
yet he himself violated a dozen of those when he wrote the PREIT
ordinance all in favor of the developer. Commissioner
Thompson and his company are involved in multiple construction
projects through-out the Township --- so the new rules making it
easier to acquire property where the zoning has already
been changed are likely to be self -serving either now or
in the future - and they are always ahead of us by years in
planning their projects . And Manager Manfredi - what is left to
say - he has been a friend to developers at the
expense of citizen rights since he first arrived in May 2017 and
began dismantling our speaking rights and our website.
EQUALLY DISTURRBING THINGS IN THE LAND USE CHAPTER
Although residents have testified
again and again that they do NOT want parking garages, here is
our Township creating a "vision" for parking garages that will
free up the parking lots for additional building on the
11-3-21 the map was first presented in the Comprehensive Plan
meeting Oct 19. By Oct 23rd I had asked them to please overlay
it on a map like the zoning map that is interactive and where
you can see exactly what streets are inside the grey circles and
the dotted circles . They literally refused to respond ... at
all. Last week I said I was resending the request every day
until I got a response. Still no response right up to the
Nov 3 Comprehensive Plan meeting - and that was sent to every
Commissioner. At the meeting yesterday Comr Michael Thompson who
heads the Comprehensive Plan team said there is no money to make
the interactive map. I said that is ridiculous because we have
12 Million in our fund balance and they have a budget before
them where eight out of nine million American Rescue Plan
dollars were slated to be spent without any public input
whatsoever. Even on things that were ridiculously frivilous and
that were not desired by residents. And even despite the calim
that they needed a 22% tax hike .
Manfredi, who had been copied on all those communications
requesting the information, said at the meeting that he did not
know whether it could be put on the GIS system or why they had
not done that, which of course requires only a call to the IT
department or a response from Michael Narcowicz ( our County
Planner and the other 1/2 of the Comp Plan leadership) or
Michael Thompson. That was not done because he is not worried
about being responsive to residents .
I also asked for the "language" that relates to the Mixed
Residential Overlay and to the Transit Oriented District. Again
my emails were ignored totally. But yesterday Comr
Thompson told me they don't have any language yet. So....
imagine this....they drew circles around your homes, labeled
them Mixed Residential Overlay and TOD - but they profess
to have no idea what that means and have moved on to
their next activity before deciding anything further. Another
resident asked to discuss the map right then and was told to
come to the next Comprehensive Plan meeting (where she would be
allowed to sit through the presentation they
had chosen on the next chapter or segment of the Comp Plan and
at the end have one opportunity and just 3 minutes to ask
questions or make a comment - both on this Land Use Plan and on
whatever new material was presented. The questions asked
at meetings are only on rare occassions answered.
I asked openly in the group - and then in individual
conversations with Richard Manfredi, Michael Thompson and
Michael Narcowiz - to schedule an open meeting in the
VERY near future on this topic . An open meeting
is one where we are allowed to have "back and forth" and get
answers to every question we ask, ask more than one question,
and are treated with respect. I hope all of you will
ask your Commissioners to see that such a meeting is scheduled.
Here is TMI on the Saturday Nov 13th meeting ......
there were several of us there that asked right at the
start of the meeting to have an open discussion about
the grey and dotted circles. We were refused .
Comr Thompson said that map isn't on an interactive map
because there wasn't any money . Hogwash - we have 12
million in the fund balance - the Manager spent $8M out
of $9M on his own wish list choices of the American
Rescue Plan - and there is $10 million more of that
coming ..... so clearly we did not need to have a 30%
tax increase in 2020 and 2022 . (22% of it hasn't been
apassed yet - so it's not too late to speak up )
If the manager created his budget WITH the Commissioners
... it was done totally out of the public purview . The
new way of avoiding a quorum that requires a public
meeting is to ask all 15 to respond individually .....
We did not have a SINGLE workshop on an 856 page budget
- that doesn't even have numbered pages for reference
...so YES we need people to help on this matter ...
demanding a proper workshop before it is passed,
numbered pages so we can refer to parts of it and share
information - and expansion of the teeny, teeny , tiny
charts that are not legible in printed form
The yellow map with the circles that we wanted to
discuss Saturday would grant Mixed Residential over, for
instance, the entire Willow Grove Mall Business District
and make any of the "lego" exercises they did that day
completely moot. The residents were asked to place legos
on maps where they thought apartments, etc should go.
Once apartments are allowed anywhere via the Yellow Map
- what would it matter what residents want ? The
property owner will take the highest and best use where
HE wants it. No background was provided for the
inexperienced residents . If you put a giant apartment
building there, what will happen to your roads and
schools? And your Commercial areas, if apartments are
more lucrative ?
Also there was very little being directed by the actual
residents - because the Planning Team, who out numbered
them about 3 to one was constantly coaxing and coaching
them to build taller and bigger and how about over here?
In one case, an "apartment lego" was put next to the
Roslyn Giant on the last patch of greenspace -- but that
was put there by Planner and Team Leader Michael
Narcowicz, who should have known how severe the
stormwater problem is there. He said nothing about that
issue - but ironically right behind him was a chart
listing residents concerns .... with Stormwater
management at the top of the list . You can't make this
stuff up ( and it's on video. )
Amazingly legos representing the PREIT building in the
Bloomies parking lot were put on the map - making it
look like - Voila -- here is what the residents want .
But again you can watch the video of the Planners doing
most of the manoevering -- and cajoling. The residents
were engaged and very ernest - but had no clue about all
the issues each selection was shrouded in. So between 5
and 10 residents out of 56, 000 with no training and no
background on the many issues created the "residents
vision" of land use for the Comprehensive Plan. Amazing,
And residents who wanted to discuss the grey circles
around hteir homes were told to come to the next meeting
where we could sit for an hour or two and let them
discuss whatever they want ......and if we last long
enough we'll have 3 minutes at the end to speak. THAT IS
NOT HOW OUR GOVERNMENT IS SUPPOSED TO WORK ... but
unless we get people to step up and say enough is enough
this nonsense will pass --- and change Abington forever.
We asked for an open mic
roundtable style meeting . I hope you will, too - An open mic
zoom would be fine - and/or a video taped in person roundtable
to follow that .
They hope to pass this Comprehensive Plan by late March or early
to have the map made interactive immediately ( because it takes
time to get the word out to people. They shouldn't be missing
these meetings . And ask to have the language/definition for
Mixed Residential Overlay and TOD districts clearly written on
the Comprehensive Plan website. If each of you asks your
Commissioner, Comr Thompson Manager Manfredi and Michael
Narcowicz - and shares your answer back here, it will make a
This site is a forum for information sharing and idea sharing.
Please feel free to
send your view and please be sure to tell us
about any information you believe to be incorrect - write
Abington Township, with John Spiegelman in charge, revamped the entire Township website at the end of 2015
and broke all the links to the information we had archived on this site for you.
In 2017, Manager Richard Manfredi arrived and assigned someone not qualified to redo the entire website again.
They not only broke all archived links we had reinstated, but made everything as impossible to find as they could.
Nearly all of our comments and recommedations to fix the Township website have been wholly ignored.
So we do need volunteers to work together helping the Township create a site that is functional and accessible.
We will be reinstating links as we find them....if the data is still available.
So... 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, we'll reinstate it.
Thanks for the help.
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