The Patton Township Board of Supervisors voted on Wednesday to establish a committee to advise the board on a proposed development and rezoning request that’s been met with resident opposition.
Board Chairman Elliot Abrams, who’s served as a supervisor for 34 years, said he’s “never seen this amount of outcry against a particular thing ever in the entire time.”
The development, known as Patton Crossing, would go in along 1752 N. Atherton St., the location of the former Penn State Mobile Home Park, according to development plans. The property was purchased in 2012, and the park closed in 2013.
The majority of that land is zoned R-3 (medium density residential), except for the front 200 feet along North Atherton that is zoned C-1 general commercial.
According to the township, the board received a request in March to consider rezoning the property to permit a development that included a mix of commercial, office, hotel and residential uses.
The proposed development includes two additional parcels, a .92-acre parcel at the intersection of Park Forest Avenue and North Atherton and a 2.1-acre parkland parcel owned by Patton Township along Park Forest Avenue (though the supervisors have indicated they’re not inclined to sell that parkland). The development would cover about 28 acres total.
Online and print petitions urging the supervisors to deny the zoning change have garnered almost 250 signatures, and dozens of residents have attended Patton Township supervisors meetings to voice their concerns.
“We want to keep the R-3 zoning,” resident Anita Thies said. “I understand there are concerns about the development under R-3. I’ve heard it said that the township might not have as much control if it’s an R-3 zoning because the developer can just go in and as long as they meet the requirements, that’s it.
“But I’m thinking: If you don’t trust the developer to do a great R-3 development, why would you trust that developer to do any other zoning development? And especially one that is new, as this overlay is.”
Robert Poole, of 1752 North Atherton Street Associates, presented the concept to the supervisors on Oct. 11. The new development would include several one-story commercial buildings, such as a grocery store and restaurant; two-story buildings with commercial on the bottom and office space above; three- to five-story commercial and residential buildings; a central plaza; parking decks; and an 80-foot hotel at the south end, as previously reported.
To accomplish the concept plan, the supervisors would need to rezone the underlying property to C-2 (planned commercial). A proposed new mixed-use overlay district that permits residential uses in C-2 and changes some regulations, such as setback requirements and maximum building heights, would need to be adopted.
Over the course of three board meetings, little progress has been made in terms of moving toward some sort of decision.
“I think this process is suffering from a lot of dysfunction,” board Vice-chairman Jeff Luck said.
Abrams said the committee will help move the process forward.
He suggested that it should consist of residents, the developers, planning commission and township staff.
Township Manager Doug Erickson will try to frame the committee and a timeline for its work by the Nov. 8 meeting, Abrams said.
Erickson pointed to the proposed density and building height being two major issues with residents.
Ara Kervandjian, of 1752 North Atherton Street Associates, said the developers have been working in good faith with planning staff and the community.
He said he’s concerned about how the process is working out.
“We’re kicking the can down the road — for what purpose?” Kervandjian said.