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Council rejects rezoning for project

| Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2002

PLUM: Council rejected a rezoning request for a 181-unit townhouse development near Coxcomb Hill Road on Monday night.

Council members, voting 6-1 against the rezoning, said they wanted to preserve the single-family dwelling designation of about 52 acres of property in the vicinity of Coxcomb Hill.

Dave Vento dissented, and Don Knopfel was absent.

"I am not against economic development or growth for Plum Borough," Councilman Jeff Russo said. But, he said, the developer purchased the land under the single-family designation "and I am uncomfortable changing it" to a designation permitting townhouses.

Plum Property Associates planned to build 181 townhouses in a development called Chambord Estates on Route 909. The proposed price range for the homes was $170,000 to $190,000.

Residents repeatedly voiced opposition to the rezoning request, claiming the construction of townhouses would impinge on their privacy and destroy the character of the neighborhood.

They also feared increased traffic on Route 909.

"This is not an emotional issue," said Deb Schnitta, of nearby Rupert Lane. "This is a zoning issue. Keep this as a business decision for Plum, not for the landowners."

Councilman Steve Taylor doubted the 181 units would be sold.

"I have racked my brain trying to decide what to do," Taylor said. "The contractor has not convinced me that they could sell 181 units. If they don't sell, what happens down the road• We would set precedent with other contractors."

Councilman Richard Hereda said he preferred a mix of single-family homes and townhouses.

But Vento said under the R2 zoning designation, which is a planned residential development, the developer would have adhered to various conditions including building no more than six townhouses in one building, constructing a clubhouse and swimming pool before one-third of the development was completed and adding extensive landscaping.

"Plum Borough needs a development of this kind," Vento said. "They have answered all the concerns I came up with as a councilman. Under the planned residential development, they can meet all of them."

Vento said among residents' concerns, only privacy could not be addressed.

"You cannot legislate privacy," Vento said.

The developer planned to spend $300,000 to $350,000 to install sewer lines to serve Chambord Estates and adjacent properties.

Council said projected revenue from the project included $74,190 in one-time fees, such as building permits; $720,000 in sewer tap-in fees; $735,642 in Plum Borough School District taxes; and $145,998 in borough taxes.

Plum Solicitor Bruce Dice said council's decision on the rezoning request was a legislative act and cannot be appealed.

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