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Council leary of new request

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

Another exception to Baldwin Borough codes is needed to allow the addition of “morning rooms” on the final homes being built in the Breckenridge Highlands plan.

Yet, the site's past, filled with many variance requests and even a court case, led borough officials to closely examine the latest request, they said.

“I think we should ask a lot of questions on this just because of the past history of the site,” council Vice President Michael Stelmasczyk said.

Baldwin Borough Council held a public hearing Tuesday to consider a request from Ryan Homes to modify the front building line setback of Breckenridge Highlands from 20 feet to 15 feet.

The Breckenridge housing complex was approved by Baldwin officials in 2004 as a planned residential development to be built in two phases, solicitor Stanley Lederman said. Phase II was granted final approval in 2005.

The property is owned by the Holly Hill Development Corp., and Ryan Homes was contracted to build and sale homes on the site, Lederman said.

The request would shift about five single-family, condominium-style homes on Towervue Drive closer to the front street to allow for “morning rooms” to be built in the rear.

Baldwin Borough's planning commission on Dec. 10 recommend that council deny the request.

A public hearing, then, must be held to determine if council will uphold the planning commissions decision or go along with the request, Lederman said.

Amanda Anderle, a sales manager with Ryan Homes, said the request is based on a market need — which is now for bigger homes. Adding the morning rooms would increase the square footage of the homes and therefore tax revenue, she said.

“Which we thought, of course, would be a good thing,” she said.

Borough engineer Larry Souleret said his concerns were the distance the “morning rooms” would be from the rear slope in the back of the homes and how this would affect parking in driveways in the front of the homes.

Council members stressed that this isn't the first request for a change to borough policy that they've received for the site.

“We keep making exceptions,” said Councilman John “Butch” Ferris, noting that any decision council makes for this property has to be consistent with those in the rest of the borough.

Representatives from Breckenridge also gave a different explanation for a request they made within the last two years that at that time they said was to allow a townhouse that already was built in a different location than it was slated for.

John Bollinger, drafter for Lawrence R. Elliot Surveying, said there was no surveying error, as previously stated. Instead, the building was moved due to a grading issue.

“That's not what we were told,” Stelmasczyk said. “I believe that we weren't told the truth. As a person sitting here, I don't think people telling me something that's not true.”

Borough council has 45 days to make a decision on the issue.

Stelmasczyk requested they present officials with an estimate of how much it would cost the developer to keep the homes in the same place and change the grading on the rear property to allow for the construction of the morning rooms.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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