They did not vote to move it forward. They will discuss it one
more time at the next Planning Commission meeting. Aug 23
demise is/was at the end of the 2020-2021 School year. An
equity interest in the property has been bought by the Toll Brothers (perhaps as
of Feb 2021). To see more of what happened earlier see the
Chronology below but the nutshell is: Toll Brothers held a meeting May
3, 2021 with over 200 residents in attendance. ( video
here :https://rrhc.sharefile.com/share/view/sac019b7855824f4a8adcc2f41ee39af9 )
all but a few, were against the original proposal of 120 single-family
homes on small lots on the 46 acres . That would equate to
approximately 1/3 of an acre each. Toll said that was in
order to keep more green space (elsewhere) - a common promise
that years later often is forgotten. On Nov 4, 2021 they returned to offer 105 in a different configuration ...or
if the residents didn't like that proposal which would need text
and map amendment approval, they showed the 543 units
they had the right to build on that property without any special
approval needed. Residents began to resign to more single
family homes, if they could be age restricted to prevent kids in
the school at $22K each.
On 12-2-21 they returned with
a proposal for 150 age restricted ( 55+) Carriage Homes.
On Jan 20th, they submitted that plan to the
Township. The residents however did not see the actual plan until May 18th,
2022 just a few days before the May 24th meeting on the
matter . On the 18th they were posted only in the agenda packet,
not in the Calendar on the front page where most people would
look him. It even looked as though there was no meeting until
just 1 day before. The Plan was making its way through all
the reviews, but the residents were not given the same courtesy of
the time to read the details.
problem, of course, for residents, is what Toll or
another developer else can build there "by right" if the 150 residential
homes proposal is turned down... the 543 institutional units.
Besides withholding the documents from Jan to
May, and besides not posting where residents would look for both
the meeting and the documents - there was a third matter of the
Comprehensive Plan Consistency Committee being actually
scheduled for May 4th. That meeting was cancelled and
where a developer SHOULD have to wait for the next scheduled
meeting if he misses a meeting, they did him the favor of
rescheduling this as a "Special Meeting" on a date convenient to
them ---- a huge disservice to residents who have little
opportunity to be properly alerted .....abd trhe developer
has the added benefit of
them not needing to post info more than 24 hours in advance --
so that little trick of not putting in the Calendar item til the
day before was OK for a "Special Meeting " ( those were
intended to be for emergencies when they were first set up.
In addition they are asking for
this Special Zoning just for
themselves - as an overlay district - not for any other
properties. Generally, that would be considered spot zoning
.....to ask to have special zoning just for one's own
property. If no other parcels can do the same thing, then
it would most definitely seems it would be "spot zoning"
.... as in : a sweet little deal just for yourself. There is
already a Senior Neighborhood residential ordinance allowed in
CS districts that is quite similar - they would have only
slightly less density. The solicitor was asked about
that and only said he didn't see it as spot zoning - he didn't
IN 2021 : we were expecting Toll Brothers to submit a
full proposal to the Township and it would then
come before the Committee of the Whole. But that Committee is no
more as of 2022 . Committees were all revised the end of 2021 in order to
remove even MORE of our speaking rights . (Residents
should be demanding to have their speaking rights back - but if
you don't even ask - you'll know who to blame) There is a
possibility their new proposal will go right to the Planning
Commission - with no required notification to neighbors as
project recently did - and then and could have
then gone to the Board to be advertized for a hearing. They are turning " due
process " on it's head - removing our rights & ability to
see and participate in what is before the Board. This leadership
, led by Comrs Hecker and Vahey are trying to pass things quickly with no proper vetting
before hte public. It really is up to you to reverse
that. You need to be a broken record and demand to have your
speaking rights and rights to vet all projects fully returned.
We should know where this is expected to show up next - but we
12-2-21 MEETING :
3RD OPTION IS OFFERED 150 AGE
RESTRICTED (OVER 55) CARRIAGE HOMES
12-2-21 Toll Brothers presented 150 age restricted ( 55+) units
for St. Basil's Academy land which is 46 acres - and my guess is
that that's going to be the one that gets the least resistance
that they will submit -- which they are expected to do soon. it
will have a clubhouse in a pool hundred and 25 feet of
separation between them and the houses outside a lot of
GreenSpace in the rear woodlands (floodplain area) and they
expect a 5 year construction process before they're all sold.
51% open space which includes the buffer which could be a trail
around the whole complex or whatever is decided in the next
stages or by the HOA later.
This property is very different than most of the other
properties that face development - Toll Brothers actually
would have the right to develop this with the 540 some units
that they presented earlier, that were far less preferred by the
Yes there is a concern that this option will go into the
CS districts in other areas.
Meaning that the approval of these units could allow for
an unknown number of additional units in other CS districts.
Where residents have been shortchanged before by their
politicians could be corrected this time by the politicians
being sure that a full presentation is given on the other CS
districts and how they would be affected.
Since this is On 46 acres, the senior resident option
could be written in a way that required a large number of acres
and that would restrict it from some of the other CS districts
Any developer who is asking
to change the text of our zoning ordinance, should be required
to present a map showing the other parcels that are affected and
explaining how it will affect them.
That will be up to you to convince your Commissioner to
make sure that’s required ---- most especially if you are next
to a CS district ( which you might not even know) and also for
the rest of us because it affects the traffic and the congestion
and the requirement to expand services like Township personnel
and facilities , or libraries, parks, trash, etc.
What are Carriage Homes ?
homes are characterized by typically 3 or 4 units connected
together, which is how they get a little more GreenSpace .
The other 2 previous options are not off the table yet. The 105 single-family
homes option formerly presented has to be approved by the community ( well ok –
just the Commissioners – but with YOU in their ear ), the other
option with 543 life care units, does not. That comes “by right”
with the CS district. (Don’t you wonder who wrote that in there?
MEETING Nov 4, 2021
BROS OFFERS 105 SINGLE FAMILY $700k TO $800k HOMES
or 543 INSTITUTIONAL UNITS
Toll Brothers bought an interest in St Basil's – but their
interest is in doing single family -not institutional. They
would hand that off. . The St Basils property
is zoned CS (Community Service) and that allows
institutional uses (a senior housing or life care facility)
by right . Originally they proposed 120 homes with a
50 ft buffer . In a zoom on Nov 4, 2021 they
proposed to reduce that to 105 homes with a
100 ft buffer and berm. The houses will take up 20.7 acres of
the 46 that are in the plot . Theres an underground stream or
hydrick ( flood plain ) soil in the back part. They would sell
about 40 homes a year so it would be 3 or 4 years til it’s all
done. Then a homeowners association would take over. .
If the residents don’t want the single family homes – that will
bring 1-5 kids to the schools we hear, then they would give it
to another developer to build 543 units in a mix of Independent
Living, Assisted Living , Life Care , Alzheimers , etc .
Kids in the schools was a big concern. At $21K per
student – it matters .
The meeting was a good and productive meeting that was,
for Abington unusually transparent. Thank you Commissioner
Rothman . People were allowed to see one another’s faces
openly – and see all the attendees. ALL our zooms should be like
that ( are you listening Mrs Spiegelman, Hecker and
Manfredi ) Comr Rothman advocated twice for extra
time from Toll so more questions could get answered. It
was advertised widely and there was no effort to exclude people.
I even thought the developer gave reasonable responses to
most of the questions. So a lot was learned and
accomplished. If I had to nit pick one thing, picking the
speakers out of order would be what should be changed – because
obviously that can allow manipulation of what appears to be free
comment – just picking the ones whose leanings you are
aware of. I didn’t have the sense that happened. Other
than that, I would love to hope this becomes the norm.
Ok – wait I do have one little bone to pick –alright … not so
little …… Comr Rothman assured residents the Commissioners would
keep a careful watch over stormwater and engineering issues etc
to be sure everything was done just right . Hold your horses,
Commissioner. You KNOW that is not the history here in
Abington and in fact a shim sham flimmy flam is going on at
Willow Grove Mall right now that you could stop at any moment –
and I encourage you to do that. And we have a horrible
history on that front altogether -- with the corrupt
players who kept people in life-threatening conditions even
being promoted to higher office … and there were just 2 of
us who stayed in the game til the bitter end to prevent a septic
system that was ½ as big as it needed to be from being
installed at St Michael's. And you have failed to get your
OWN constituents properly in the Manor College rezoning
loop - so they have missed every meeting where they could impact
it. So no – those parts are still off. But I
am still going to applaud you for being open and direct in
most every OTHER way at the 11-4-21 Toll Brothers meeting. We need more
of that !!!
This link to a video of this
November 4 meeting
that Comr Rothman shared is not working for me – if it doesn’t
for you email Comr Rothman if you want to review the last
& UNDERSTANDING THE ZONING:
If you look on p 361 here https://www.abingtonpa.gov/home/showdocument?id=6053
you’ll see the USE chart.
are NO standard residential uses for CS… h. However :
there is . an institutional residential component on page
2017 was when the new zoning was instituted.
I haven’t compared the 4-27-17
CS uses with the prior
ones ones – but after
that date at least, these things were allowed
meaning you can’t stop it but you can put conditions on it):
Facility (Continuing Care)
Community Service Planned
Development--- (see p169)
Conditional Use Criteria: In order to obtain a conditional use
for a CS Community Service Planned Development, the applicant
for a development tract must meet the following criteria to the
satisfaction of the Board of Commissioners:
School. An existing school building
(a) be preserved,
(b) be demolished up to
50%, based on floor area, provided the front façade is left
(c) have 50% or more of the
school, based on floor area, demolished by conditional use,
provided a site plan has been submitted and approved by the
Board of Commissioners.
Residential Impact. Impact on neighboring residential uses must
be minimized and mitigated,
as appropriate. The increase in traffic resulting from the new
development must be limited to 5% or less.
Open Space. A minimum of 80,000
square feet of contiguous open space
shall be provided that is suitable for at least two baseball or
softball fields with minimum 60’ baselines. Additional open
space in the form of a park or landscaped plaza (including
benches, shade trees, walkways, public art, and/or a water
feature) shall be provided, located proximate to Easton or
Parkdale Roads. d. Master Plan. A master plan showing compliance
with the above criteria shall be submitted.
Also allowed in
School , Hospital , Art
Gallery , Patient Lab, and more . These are
in CS -a more complete list:
roof or structure mounted
limited keeping of chickens
commercial vehicle parking
day care center adult
/daycare child center
/farmers market temporary or seasonal
conditional use only
/fences and walls
recreation/ uses accessory to outdoor recreation
/residential accessory structure
/St tennis/sports courts
/community service planned
development conditional use only
adultor child by special exception
services by special exception
conditional use only
/Library Museum or cultural
center conditional use only
facility-continuing care conditional use only
complex conditional use only
conditional use only
/place of worship class I
conditional use only
/place of worship class 2& 3
or /college-public or private
/medical clinic or office accessory
/art gallery or museum conditional use only
/conservation recreation preserve
outdoor conditional use or accessory use
HAVE TO GO TO THE ZONING HEARING BOARD
NO : To change it
to residential use it will need a text amendment to alter the
zoning. They have chosen to create a Carriage Home
Overlay District to put in the CS Districts --- that does NOT
go to the Zoning Hearing
Board. It only goes to the Planning Commission and
from there to the Comprehensive Plan Consistency Committee
who will recommend it to
the Board of Commissioners to approve it . Only a majority of
the 15 members is needed- so, only 8 votes
needed to approve it.
Since a Plan for such a change is NOT in the current
Comprehensive Plan, there is no clearcut document
showing it was the Commissioners' "vision" ---- so,
as was noted Mar 6, 2022 by the Montco Planner, it really is
"spot zoning" - seeming to apply to just the one property
. If it applies to others, it may escape spot zoning
problems - but these property neighbors were not alerted and
have not been part of the creation of the zoning change
that would affect them .
When a text amendment is
approved to add to the
CS District, it would then
apply to ALL parcels zoned CS
that have the same conditions.
So they seem to be skirting some of the rules.
If they are using one of the “uses” by right in the CS district,
all conditional uses would have to go to the Zoning Hearing
Board – or any use would if they are asking for variances from
the by right use, for instance.
me on all this – – ask your
Commissioner to verify and let me know if they say anything
ABINGTON ZONING MAP
The full zoning ordinance
was revised ( with the input of hardly any of the 56,000
residents of the Township, although that had been promised ) and passed 4-27-17. It is found here
Zoning Map (a section is below) is found at
page 352 . The blue areas are all zoned CS (
f you scroll a few pages above
the map to the mauve colored charts, you will find CS
along the top column menu and
go down that CS column on each of the charts to see what uses apply
in the CS district.
CS comes with many interesting uses , and some brand new
uses "by right" bestowed in the 2017 zoning. Despite
those new rights, developers are still coming in and asking for
MORE. Each time they
amend a section,
like CS, it applies to all the other CS districts. So
all the amendments are messing with what should be a clean
document. It already has many features that are way more
complicated than they need to be.
The Horse Farm : A side note about more
possible nearby construction : Manor College intends to
the Sisters of St Basil Faculty House and a "significant
portion" of the Horse Farm as of hte end of 2021 . So what portion is left - and
what is the plan for that? See
WHAT ELSE WILL BE
add the residential use on their CS parcel, all the other CS
blue districts will get the same rights (unless there is some
other way to zone for the 120 houses that I don't understand....
And to be frank, I learn something new every day so help me out
on this if you know something different) . It is
imperative that we do not add residential to all CS districts.
It would enable a massive change in the Township and a massive
influx of students to the school.
Township wide : just a few ...
The blue rectangle
at the top with the tiny label "St. Basil's Academy" is the
section under discussion here. It is directly
to the left of the Ukrainian Center. and above Manor
College --Yes I should have circled and labeled that
specifically ..... in my free time!
OUR ZONING ORDINANCE
:You can find the whole
zoning ordinance and the whole zoning map
map at p 353 Use Matrix p 357 to 361
--- both near the very end ...
Here's the map with all the other CS ( light
blue areas that would get that zoning) at the above link it is
interactive and easy to read
OUR ZONING MAP ABOVE St Basil's is in the lower right hand quadrant - and
you can see, even there in that quadrant , how much CS land
there is - plus there is Hillside Cemetery and other plots of
land that, if you added up all the possibilities could add a
phenomenal number of units under the right circumstances.
Find CS (Community Service) on the top
line of the use matrix and go down the uses to see
what could be built there. I have listed them above in
green. You can find the zoning details in
this zoning document - the use matrix is near the very and just
before the maps... Find CS community service and go down the
uses to see what could be built there.
Toll Brothers and BET Investments are
often confused ( BET = Bruce
E. Toll ).
BET Investments did the 402 apartments at the
Promenade in Upper Dublin across from Lowes in Willow Grove, with
commercial on the bottom - and Toll Brothers is doing the
single homes behind the Promenade.
One of the chief concerns of the
residents at the first zoom, was traffic and how the cars from this development of
120 homes so perhaps 200 or 250 cars would probably be seeking
shortcuts through their neighborhoods even though toll was
promising them only one driveway. (I'm not sure one driveway
would be allowed because of fire access- there is usually a 2nd
entrance required for emergency vehicles)
Toll said they
would have 50 ft buffers and a walking trail and green
area . Ask for the fim to be aired so all residents
can view it. .
MANOR COLLEGE'S NEW ZONING
The expanded zoning that Penn State
will present at the Committee of the Whole on 5-13-21 for all Abington Colleges and Universities would
also impact Manor College. It permits 300 foot long
buildings and other conditions you might have a concern
about. So everyone in this area should keep their eye on
that as well and attnd the zoom on 5-13-21.
(It is the
2nd meeting, not the 1st)
Seems there could be a lot of expansion in the very
near future in this little corner of the Township. If you
learn any more about any of these, please let
me know so we can keep neighbors informed.
WOODS Note also that
has a Masterplan that action was budgeted for in last year's budget (
$100,000) and the Horse Farm should stay on
your radar, as a plan was made for that years ago ( 126
units????) when they
were calculating what might be needed for sewer upgrades
/ EDU needs.
To learn more about development throughtout the Township, see the
of Development in Abington
TOWNSHIP WIDE REDEVELOPMENT
Any information that you can
pass along will be welcome. Now is the time for neighbors to
become informed about zoning laws and connected. (
I can help you get connected, too, if you need help. )
ABINGTON PUBLIC COMMENT AND PLEASE CARE THAT THE COMMISSIONERS
ARE DOING EVERYTHING TO
REDUCE YOUR PUBLIC COMMENT RIGHTS (CLICK HERE ) WHILE THIS ALL OUT ASSAULT ON GIANT MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT
IS BEING LAUNCHED ............... YOU WON'T KNOW HOW
IMPORTANT public comment IS UNTIL YOU SPEND 3 HOURS AT A MEETING AND
AREN'T EVEN ALLOWED A FEW MINUTES TO COMMENT.
little history about the Sisters of St Basil
is included in this
4-17-22 article on the Sister's humanitarian efforts for the
Ukraine in the war with Russia
In Jenkintown, an order of nuns works
to get medicine and supplies to Ukraine. The prayers ship free.