It seems my letter will not be printed in the Intelligencer - I submitted it on Friday morning at 7am and there has been no sign of it. Several writers in the Intelligencer have disparagingly noted our purchase of space in the local paper to state our concerns. Is it any wonder we had to buy the space when they don't print what we send to the usual free venues? (This is the first time we've submitted a letter to the editor about these issues.) Anyway, here's the letter - and here's hoping you all attend the meeting tonight to say 'No!' to sewer to Rural Residential areas!
Letter to the Editor:
On Monday September 11, Hilltown Supervisors astoundingly rejected the
from WB Homes to develop 38 houses on Cinnabar Farm and retain
White Chimney Farm as open space in perpetuity. If White Chimney Farm
with 22 houses as the Supervisors now intend, it will destroy the open
viewscape from Route 113 and Blooming Glen that Rosenberger’s 140 acre
preservation just made possible.
At the time, Supervisors were holding a revised Transfer of Development
(TDR) ordinance from the Hilltown Planning Committee to permit
properties to be used to calculate density. If they had considered
could have saved White Chimney Farm.
Why didn’t they? At best, they’re
childish game of getting back at the Rosenbergers. At worst, they need
develop White Chimney to bring public water and sewer to Egly/Hockman
where MrGrath proposes a 450 house development just down the hill.
First things first – 7:30pm, September 25th, before any
consideration of bringing sewer to the rural residential Cinnabar/White
Farms (if this is not already a deal done in private), residents should
Supervisors responsibly implement the Planning Committee's TDR
that can save White Chimney and others!
How is the Hilltown Landowners Association shaping our future for their personal gain?
The Hilltown Landowners Association is secretly undermining Hilltown residents' desire to maintain a rural community.
Supervisor Jack McIlhinney was a founding member, states the article "Watchful Eye on Land and Government", meeting regularly with the other members to achieve the maximum for their properties.
Maximal values are currently only achieved through development. Developers buy land on a kind of sliding scale, depending on the density allowed. Land zoned for high density with public sewer available fetches the highest price because developers don't need to pay for an expensive on-site treatment facility.
The Hilltown Landowner's Association seems to exist for the sole purpose of creating a political environment conducive to its members' shot at top dollar - and that means high density and public sewer.
But here's the catch. The Hilltown Master Plan designates certain areas as 'rural residential' - areas in which some members of the Hilltown Landowners Association own farms! Take, for instance, the area the Master Plan calls the Minsi Trail Area, still the most rural quadrant of Hilltown. The Minsi Trail area doesn't have public sewer (yet) and the Master Plan doesn't call for sewer to go there. But this is precisely the location of McGrath's proposed 450 home development - on farms sold by Hilltown Landowner's Association members.
But what better way to change the Master Plan than control the office of Supervisor and the ability to cast the final vote?
Mr. McIlhinney was elected to the public office of Supervisor and has proceeded to do the needful: revise ordinances, vote against preservation, run sewer lines, and make certain that the members of the Association get top dollar from their properties, no matter where they are located, no matter what the comprehensive plan of the township.
So what's the big picture here? This map shows how closely related the Rosenberger 140 preserved acres is to the McGrath proposed development on Minsi Trail & Route 313, and to the WB Homes' developments proposed on White Chimney and Cinnabar Farms. (The "Watchful Eye" article also mentions that Paul Callahan from McGrath regularly attends the Hilltown Landowner's Association meetings - what a
boon that has been for him!)
The McGrath Homes proposal for 450 homes would be much easier to approve and cheaper to develop with public sewer readily available. So, how can fellow Association member Supervisor McIlhinney deliver the sewer to fellow attendees Mr. Egly and Mr. Hockman, so they can get the maximum possible value for their properties?
(We are not without sympathy for Mr. Egly's and Mr. Hockman's unfortunate
situation of having sold to McGrath already in 2004 with probably little to no upfront money. See our recent post on how developers structure their purchase payments and how we as a preservation-oriented community could do much better by our farmers.)
Let's speculate about what's really going on here.
We know McGrath Homes needs sewer close by to get approval for the 450 proposed homes on the Egly/Hockman properties.
Plan one. If only the Rosenbergers would get so fed up with the Supervisors that they sold their 140 acres for development, then the pressure would be intense to open up the entire Minsi Trail area for sewer and development.
Plan two. Or, as a second best, if White Chimney Farm were developed, the sewer could flow down from the top of the hill on Blue School Road to Blooming Glen Road to Perkasie's treatment facilities. McGrath's proposed 450 house development on Minsi Trail could then pump up their sewage to this line very easily.
But Plan Two only works only if Chris Canavan's (WB Homes) proposals (July 25 2005 and March 27 2006) to leave White Chimney Farm as open space while developing neighboring Cinnabar Farm at higher density were not accepted!
And that is precisely what happened. Just two days after the Rosenbergers committed to preserve the 140 acre farm (Plan One down!), on the evening of September 11, the Supervisors voted to refuse to adopt an ordinance to leave White Chimney Farm as open space. (Plan Two go!).
Supervisors equally quickly proposed that a new ordinance be considered at the next meeting - September 25 - that public sewer be extended to White Chimney Farm against the rural residential zoning. The Intelligencer article quotes Supervisor Manfredi saying, “I'm not opposed to this, but more homework needs to be done.”
Then why rush pell-mell to make such a monumental decision?
So let's get this straight: the Supervisors cannot accomodate an ordinance to preserve open space, but they can accomodate an ordinance to introduce sewer to rural residential zoning???!
RESIDENTS OF HILLTOWN:
IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO COME TO THE NEXT PUBLIC BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING ON MONDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 25, at 7:30pm TO SAY 'NO!' TO SEWER FOR WHITE CHIMNEY FARM. SUPERVISORS SHOULD WORK OUT AN AGREEMENT WITH WB HOMES TO MAKE THE OPEN SPACE PLAN WORK!
Supervisors should not make exceptions to enrich their friends on the Hilltown Landowner's Association.
Everyone has the right to enhance the value of their property and home. But it is the responsibility of Township Supervisors to use their integrity to make sure that a few landowners do not hold the rest of the community hostage with their unbridled greed.