Residents, Patton Crossing developer have differing opinions. Here’s how they’re coming together for solutions

The former Penn State Mobile Home Park on North Atherton Street has proposed plans to be built into Patton Crossing.
The former Penn State Mobile Home Park on North Atherton Street has proposed plans to be built into Patton Crossing. Centre Daily Times, file

While the Patton Crossing development is still in its infancy stages, an advisory committee is helping to shape the scope of the major project.

The Patton Township Board of Supervisors in November decided to establish the Patton Crossing Advisory Committee in order to facilitate discussion and sort out possible compromises between Park Forest residents and the developer, 1752 North Atherton Street Associates. Both sides presented their positions at Wednesday’s supervisors meeting.

“We keep going back and forth on this, and we’re nowhere near finished,” board Chair Elliot Abrams said.

The advisory committee is made up of planning commission members, the developer, township staff and 14 residents in the citizens advisory group.

The Patton Crossing development 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, as previously reported. The developers are requesting that the property be rezoned with a mixed-use overlay to permit commercial, office, hotel and residential uses for the entire about 28-acre property.

Areas of opposition between the developer and the residents include maximum height for buildings, setbacks, maximum impervious coverage and access to Park Forest Avenue. The only subject — though it’s not a zoning matter — that the supervisors made a decision on is the connection between Park Forest Avenue and the site.

The developer prefers to have it be full access into or out of the site, with “right in, right out” as an alternative, according to township documents. However, the citizens advisory group is concerned about traffic spilling into the surrounding residential area, so it proposed either no vehicular connection or a gated access from Park Forest Avenue.

The supervisors agreed on a regulated entrance/exit for only CATA buses and emergency vehicles. However, the final decision will be made at the time of the master plan approval.

At the next board meeting on March 28, the supervisors will further discuss the other issues where there’s disagreement between the developer and residents.

Residents are also concerned about the height of the proposed hotel that is currently planned to be situated in the back of the development, not far from existing residences in Park Forest.

“The reason we want a lower height for the hotel is so that it does not tower over the surrounding tree line,” Anita Thies, a 41-year resident of Patton Township, said.

She said the tree line is about 70-feet tall, so the citizens advisory group would recommend a 50-foot hotel.

Originally, the developer had proposed an 80-foot building with an additional 25-foot landmark feature. Robert Poole, of 1752 North Atherton Street Associates, said they’re OK with bringing the height down to 60 or 65 feet, with a 20-foot landmark feature. However, he said they don’t even know if they’ll end up keeping the hotel in the plan or they could move it to a different part of the property.

“If you want, we’ll get rid of the landmark feature. If that’s something that really turns people off, we’ll get rid of it,” Poole said. “We actually really care about the residents.”

A public hearing on the Patton Crossing development has yet to but set but will likely happen in May or June.