Hampton approves Windmont preliminary plan with conditions
A preliminary planned residential development of Windmont Farms to be located off of S. Pioneer Road in Hampton Township was unanimously approved with conditions at the Hampton Township Council’s April 24 voting meeting.
Developer Crossgate Inc., located in McMurray, is set to develop 63 acres of the former property owned by the late Charles and Margo Chalfant. The preliminary plan includes 14 duplexes and 40-single family homes in a rural business zoning district.
It has been extensively contested by a number of nearby residents, prompting council to hold two public hearings in February and March in order to accommodate all comments and expert testimony provided by those residents who were concerned with the development.
Under state law, council had to make a decision by this meeting, according to Martin Orban, zoning officer for the township. This is a tentative approval. A final plan still has to be approved later in the process.
Council voted separately on four modifications before voting on the entire preliminary plan.
Specifically, a first modification was approved that there be no connection required from a proposed street in the Windmont plan to an already existing Crestview Drive located in a nearby plan.
Council approved a second modification to the township’s current requirement of limiting the length of a cul-de-sac to 800 feet amending it so the proposed cul-de-sac length be of no greater than 2,505 feet.
The third modification approval was to reduce the requirement for setback from a top of bank of any water course, or for any pond, lake or wetland to 20 feet, conditional on applicant submitting a geotechnical engineer’s report as to the “current condition of the existing pond’s dam area which finds to the satisfaction of the township’s storm water management engineer that the proposed infrastructure improvements will not negatively impact the existing pond.”
Finally, the township has a requirement that at least 25 percent of required open space must be located on buildable land suitable for active recreation. They approved a motion to modify to allow use of 2.98 acres surrounding the existing pond as suitable active recreational space.
Hampton Township Legal Counsel Vince Tucceri said that if the township did not approve the plan, the developer could take it to the Allegheny Court of Appeals. If the township would lose, they could also risk losing the whole set of conditions the township has required the developer to perform for the property.
Tucceri said, in his professional opinion, all the actions through this planning process by the developer “have been met from a legal standpoint.”
Residents located in the proposed plans vicinity were majorly concerned with potential flooding of their properties due to nearby waterways and future tree removal for development purposes.
Council member Bethany Blackburn was first to comment prior to the vote. She said as a new council person, this was the most significant decision to date. And while she may have wanted to vote the other way, from a legal standpoint it seemed best to vote for approval of the application with modifications. She said her current Hampton home is affected with some of the same concerns offered by the residents, but private property owners, like the Chalfant family who is selling the property to Crossgate for development, also have their rights.
Council member Carolynn Johnson assured residents that whatever is decided that “they have been heard” as evidenced by the amount of changes the developer did in response to the concerns throughout the process.
Fellow council member Richard Dunlap said he is trusting their township engineers will properly monitor and address any problems, including with water runoff with which he is also concerned.
“I don’t see how we can vote against it without a valid reason. Every change that we required them they have done,” Dunlap said, adding they probably would lose in court.
President Mike Peters also thanked the members of the zoning hearing board, environmental advisory council and planning commission who reviewed the multiple designs and documents and listened to citizens comments throughout the process.
Tucceri noted that residents, developers, engineers and other professionals were all opportuned to provide their opinions and feedback.
“What you saw in this process is true democracy at work,” said Tucceri.
Merrit DesLauriers, a resident of Lakewood Drive opposed to the current plan, also brought in experts that supported her and other concerns. She asked if the developer could appeal the conditions required by council.
Tucceri said Crossgate has 30 days to take an appeal to the conditions to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
“I don’t think they can be successful in challenging any of our conditions,” he said.
DesLauriers expressed disappointment with the approval.
“I felt this was a risk worth taking,” she said.