Supervisors Approve Applications for Rite Aid, Della Porta

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors approved the zoning text and map amendment applications for Della Porta and the preliminary final land development application for Rite Aid at a meeting on Nov. 14.

NEWTOWN SQUARE–Two planning and zoning applications were set before the Board of Supervisors at a meeting on Nov. 14. Rite Aid Pharmacy's preliminary/final land development application and a public hearing was conducted for the amendments of the zoning text and map application of the Della Porta property.

Supervisors Move Ahead With Rite Aid's Application

At their last meeting in October, proposed for the location at the old Video Chevrolet dealership on Route 3/West Chester Pike and St. Albans Avenue in Newtown Square.

On Monday night, George Broseman of Kaplin Stewart, representing Rite Aid, presented to the Board with a new alternative building option known as their "colonial type," which includes additional windows and cornices to the building.

"They've put some more articulation in the building," explained Mike Trio, township manager. "They've added some additional windows, they've changed some of the windows in the corner pieces of the building and they put these cornices on the upper sides of the bay. Architecturally, it became a little more variation in the facade."

The long side of the building will face St. Albans Avenue and will now have two sets of windows, while the short side of the building facing West Chester Pike will have one set of windows.

Trio said the township is currently working with Rite Aid to "break up those facades a little more" with trees and shrubs. David Allen, of the township's Enivornmental Advisory Committee, said Rite Aid will be donating five trees, about 7 inches in caliber, to plant along the median on West Chester Pike by the site.

Supervisors unanimously passed the approval of the preliminary/final land development application with the amended changes 4-0 with Supervisor Linda Houldin abstaining. Houldin recused herself from the vote as she noted her sister works for Rite Aid.

Supervisors Approve Rezoning on Terrazza/Somerset Parcels

In a 4-1 vote–with Supervisor Houldin holding the lone nay on both motions–supervisors approved the rezoning of approximately 10 acres of the Terrazza/Somerset parcels on the Della Porta property off of Route 252/Newtown Street Road and Gradyville Road from SU-7 (special use) to AO (apartment/office zone) which will be made effective on March 15, 2012.

The Newtown Planning Commission had previously approved developer David Della Porta's application to make the entire property within the AO Zoning District at a meeting on Sept. 8.

The new modified plan includes 50 units less in density, four buildings 55-feet high (original plan had 14, 55-feet tall buildings) will be farther way from existing neighbors, remainder of the buildings will be two-story townhomes, less visual impact on neighbors and drivers, preservation of more trees, more buffer between the development and existing neighbors, four acres less of clearing, less impervious coverage, greater open space, and utilizing less sewage (part of a seven-party sewer agreement with neighboring developments that guarantee sewage capacity) with having the potential of giving some back to the township.

According to Dennis Glackin of Glackin Thomas Panzak, Inc., planning representative for the Della Porta property, the property is assessed at approximately $68 million. Glackin provided the following information on the impact to the township and the .

"The township's revenues would be a total of about $271,000 annually at project completion," said Glackin. "Most of this, $171,000, will come from the real estate taxes. There will be fewer maintenance costs to the township but the total cost will be about $201,000 a year."

Thus, Glackin said with the maintenance costs added in, the net revenues to the township will be about $69,670 a year. The same analysis was given to the school district as well, said Glackin. The revenues to the school district were projected at $1.5 million with $1.1 million in real estate taxes. Glackin said they project the number of school-aged children in the new development to be a maximum of 52, without taking into account any children who will attend private or parochial schools.

"These numbers are kind of a worst-case scenario," said Glackin. "The revenues to the school district be about $1.5 million a year; the school district cost would be about $978,000, so the net revenues to the school district would be about $538,000 a year."

By approving the amendment to the zoning text of the AO land use ordinance, township solicitor Richard Sokorai said it would affect the other existing AO zones in the township.

However, township manager Trio said, "Every other AO sites in the township are already zoned out." Della Porta said he would be able to build all four of those bigger buildings starting next year, all at once, which will be a very significant revenue for the township next year. According to Trio, about $240,000 in revenues would be anticipated for those mid-rise buildings.

Several residents and neighbors showed up at the public meeting in favor of the Della Porta's new plan proposal.

Tony Mattern of Cornerstone Drive, a member of the Terrazza Board, said afer talking to neighbors and residents about the project, the plan is "largely in consensus in goig forward with this. We're relatively satisified with the traffic and we're largely in agreement."

Buzz Wienckowski, a long-time resident of Morton Street, said he would be more affected by the plan than some other neighbors as his street is one of the first ones directly next to the development but shared his agreement with the plan.

"I'm in favor of this development," said Wienckowski. "Mr. Della Porta was considerate enought to move the homes farther from us. I think David [Della Porta] has donea  lot for us–he's met with us for the past three to four years. I think it's an attractive development to Newtown Square and I've lived in this township for a long time."

Denise Talley of Dogwood Place, who said she'll be "right next to it" once the construction happens and will "see all the dirt on my windows," but shared the same sentiments as the others. "I think this is a great plan."

However, not everyone was in favor of Della Porta's plan.

Al Meltzer, a legendary Philadelphia radio sportscaster and a resident of Cornerstone Drive, shared his concerns about the increase in traffic.

"I'm always looking at [Route] 252," said Meltzer. "And there are days when I don't want to look at 252...particularly on West Chester Pike coming down. This is already happening with 100 units where we live. This is going to be 300 units. How are we going to solve the problem on [Route] 252, if you're adding three times what you have there already."

Jeff Boone, of Dogwood Place, shared his concerns about the development and said he's been involved with the development of land at the Della Porta site "since the beginning of time."

"One of my major concerns is essentially what has happened is we've allowed in the township the destruction of the foliage that goes from [Route] 252 up to my property," said Boone. "In doing so, my house and property have been damaged due to trees falling because we have created a wind tunnel."

Della Porta said that he would personally meet with Boone to address his concerns.

Deall Porta said construction can began next year and believed the new plan is "better than what's been approved" and anticipates new job opportunities.




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