COLLEGE TOWNSHIP — One new student housing complex is moving ahead, while an appeal is forthcoming on a second.
The Retreat, the development of cottage-style homes targeted toward nearly 600 students between Waupelani Drive and Whitehall Road, received final approval with a 3-2 vote by Township Council on Thursday night.
As in previous votes on the project, Mary Shoemaker and David Fryer opposed it.
Jon Williams, a member of the development team from Georgia, called the process a long haul. The plan has taken about 18 months to receive final approvals in State College and College Township. Most of the property sits in the township.
Few final comments were made at the council meeting, which still was well-attended by residents who have followed the process.
Don OBryan, a township resident who said he has a small ownership in the property being sold to developers, said he reviewed the plan.
I think its a professional job, he said.
George Dickie, a West Whitehall Road resident, agreed that its a very good plan, but raised a few final concerns. He said he thought there would be a severe cut to the elevation, was concerned about how construction vehicles would access the property, and asked that developers ensure trees near a planned fence are not removed unnecessarily.
Williams said the grading has changed from the original plan, but is nearly the same as that previously approved by the township. He said construction access will be on Waupelani Drive, and that trees will be handled appropriately.
It is the owner constructing the project, he said.
The plan has received final comments from the borough, and acting zoning officer Anne Messner said it appeared the developers would have no problem addressing those.
Council also received an update related to negotiations between the township and developers for The Villas at Happy Valley, a townhome complex planned between Trout Road and Dreibelbis Street that struggled to receive approval.
Negotiations continue about the fee the developer will pay in lieu of on-site open space. Both Keystone Real Estate Group and the township received appraisals of the property and have since attempted to agree on the fee for 5.8 acres of space.
Keystone originally offered $491,377 and the township countered that the appropriate figure was just under $1.15 million. Last month, Keystone offered just under $521,000, and a memo from the groups attorney, Jeffrey Ernico, questioned the townships fee-in-lieu ordinance and calling it ambiguous and vague.
In a letter July 11, township solicitor Louis Glantz offered a settlement fee of $988,525.
However, at Thursdays meeting, Ernico said Keystone will pay the $1.148 million fee the township originally requested.
Ernico said the payment will be made under protest, because our client plans to file an appeal. He asked that the township hold the money and not spend it, because of the planned appeal.
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter