Behind Rydal Park and behind the Baederwood
Shopping Center going all the way to York Rd.
Rydal Waters Development
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info on this issue or opinions about it -
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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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
In essence, the tract was rezoned and clear cut, and
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
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.
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.
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
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
2009- Plan approved.
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 ).
was ultimately rezoned to
SNR (Senior Neighborhood Residential ) with a 62 +
age limit . The SNR zoning is found
on page 31 here
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 .
They were advertising the Rydal Waters units
by 4-17 at
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 .
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
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
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.