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Hampton/Shaler

Windmont public hearing moved to Feb. 13

| Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, 1:33 a.m.
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The public hearing for proposed Windmont Farms Planned Residential Development in Hampton Township has been extended until the council meeting Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

The extension changes a previously scheduled public hearing date of Jan. 9.

Crossgate Inc. is looking to develop on approximately 63 acres of land off of South Pioneer Road in a residential/business zoning district. The proposed development would have a combination of duplexes and single family homes for more than 60 units, according to the township website.

Any plan revisions by the developer must now be submitted to the township by Jan. 1, according to Martin Orban, land administrator for the township. Any documents from the public regarding the proposed development to be presented at the public hearing for review should be submitted to the township by Feb 7.

Township Manager Christopher Lochner said the earlier document submission requirement gives residents plenty of time to see what goes on with the planning commission and the environmental advisory council,” both of which have to review any related documents prior to the public hearing.

The environmental advisory council meeting is set to review the applicant plans at 7 p.m. Jan. 8, then by the planning commission at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14, according to the township website.

The township council will also revisit the proposal at its 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 voting meeting.

There has been several extensions granted to the applicant. A public hearing was first advertised and scheduled in October, then moved to the township’s November working meeting. The public hearing was to be continued until Dec. 19, but then the township asked the developer if it would consider waiting until Jan. 9. This January move was actually done to better accommodate residents wanting to attend during the holidays.

Now, at the developer’s request, it has been moved again.

A group of residents near the proposed development have been expressing concern over the development during recent township council meetings, particularly with potential flooding.

Merrit DesLauriers, a resident of Lakewood Drive near the development, said they have an attorney who will be representing the group of residents concerned with the proposed development.

She said her research shows the developer has minimal experience with residential development, but is more versed in property management. She said residents are mostly concerned with variance requests from township ordinances, including a partially granted variance regarding tree removal on the property.

Residents have expressed concern with potential flooding this variance may cause.

Crossgate has not responded to calls for this and a previous article.

Maureen Lah, a business owner in the township, said at council’s December meeting they were concerned that the extensions by the developer is “costly to have an attorney review plans where the timelines keep changing” on their end.

Orban said the request from the developer was to allow for more time to revise plans.

“Extensions are granted by the applicant and are fairly typical, however, in most cases due to the increased costs of producing plans and having them reviewed, most applicants attempt to minimize extensions. Extensions can require that meetings be re-scheduled but the end result usually ends in a decision from council unless the applicant withdraws,” he said.

Lochner said that an applicant is allowed to repeatedly request extensions if so wanted. But it just slows down the process for them, too.

The township has to adhere to these guidelines legally, said Lochner.

However, he added that the extra time allows everyone to be more “comprehensive in the process” instead of rushing through it.

In response to this and other environmental concerns in the township, a small group of residents formed the Hampton Community for Environmental Justice, according to DesLauriers.

She said the group has about a dozen members so far and are working on making it an official nonprofit in the future. It’s not only in response to those concerned regarding the Windmont Farms development but “in other areas of the township as far as environment is concerned … now and in the future.”

“(It) will hopefully address issues that lifelong residents have been experiencing as well as new residents,” said DesLauriers, who moved to Hampton Township a little more than a year ago from Pittsburgh.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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