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Revised housing development plan submitted to Baldwin Borough officials

| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Submitted
Revised plans for the Schuette Farms residential housing development, proposed for land off of Willett Road.

A local developer is trying again for approval to build nearly 50 single-family homes on a 60-acre lot in northern Baldwin Borough — more than five years after he introduced a similar idea to municipal leaders.

Developer Michael Facchiano Contracting Inc. is giving plans for the Schuette Farms planned residential housing development, proposed for land off of Willett Road, a second go-round with revisions. Baldwin leaders denied the final approval for his initial plans in December. They said there were too many changes from the 2008 ideas that were granted preliminary approval by borough officials.

“This plan, I think, is much better than the previous plan,” borough engineer Larry Souleret said.

Steven Victor, a partner with Victor-Wetzel Associates, presented the revised plans to Baldwin council members at a public hearing on Feb. 18.

Council members have 60 days from the end of the hearing to make a decision on the preliminary and final plans, both of which were presented, borough manager John Barrett said.

Even with the revisions, borough leaders had many questions about the project planned for two phases with 27 homes planned for a cul-de-sac off of Longwood Avenue in the first phase. Twenty-one homes are planned for the second phase, with 20 of those to be built along Willett Road, Victor said.

Of the 60 acres, 40 would be left without development, he said.

“He's leaving 40 acres for people to walk their dogs,” Souleret said.

The plan would require five modifications to borough rules, Victor said.

That includes right-of-way reductions and leaving green space open, instead of providing an active recreational area, Souleret said.

Councilman John “Butch” Ferris, though, questioned if that space truly will be green.

“You don't (have) 20 trees on that green space,” he said. “You can ride down and see it for yourself.”

Borough officials also questioned if additional homes should be built along county-maintained Willett Road. Baldwin codes — for planned residential developments — state the residences should not be built to face collector roads, council President Michael Stelmasczyk said.

“How is the borough best served by allowing that?” he asked.

The project also would require the developer to bring in about 100,000 cubic yards of fill to level the site — a reduction from the 300,000 planned with the initial plans presented.

Solicitor Stanley Lederman asked that borough officials be notified each time fill is brought to the site so that Baldwin leaders, if they choose, can spot-test the fill to determine if it meets the standards needed for the site.

Concerns also were raised over compacting the fill and the consequences that could occur if the fill is not compacted properly, something Victor said would be the worst-case scenario.

“We've had issues in the past with fill and slopes and I want to make sure that we don't have that,” Scott said. “I know there's never a guarantee.”

Baldwin leaders said they plan to put a time limit on how long the developer has to bring fill to the site — likely 14 months, or the same rate of time they would have been given to bring in the 300,000 cubic yards, Lederman said. The solicitor said borough leaders were told more than five years ago that the 300,000 cubic yards would be brought in within so many months. That didn't occur.

Souleret, and council members, said fill has been brought to the site in recent years, yet there is no permit to dump there.

Victor disputed that this has been occurring in recent months.

The property is zoned residential, and there are no building permits issued for the site, which contains heavy equipment, a stockpile of equipment and construction materials, officials have said.

The owner was given 30 days by District Judge John Bova on Dec. 9 to remove the items from the property, officials have said.

Borough officials cited property owner McNeilly Realty Associates after accusing the company of violations of planned residential district standards and conditions and purpose/intent. Court records show the owner was found not guilty on Dec. 9.

Baldwin officials have said that was a separate issue.

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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