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Developer Challenges Validity Of Zoning Ordinance In #NewtownPA Township

Developer Challenges Validity Of Zoning Ordinance In #NewtownPA Township | Newtown News of Interest |

The developer is arguing that the JMZO is deficient because it does not specifically include a B-11 Mid-Rise Apartment Use in its language.


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A developer looking to build a 245-unit market rate mid-rise apartment building on Lower Silver Road is challenging the substantive validity of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO), which governs land development in Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown [read “Developer Files Legal Challenge To #NewtownPA Township's Zoning Law to Get What It Wants: A 4-Story Apartment Building!”].


At the June meeting of the Newtown Township Planning Commission, attorneys representing New Jersey-based KRE Upper Macungie Associates briefed the planners on its filing, which is seeking a curative amendment to the JMZO to allow a multi-story apartment complex to be built on 17.89 acres in the Office Research zone on Lower Silver Lake Road [read “20 June 2023 Planning Commission Meeting Summary”].


The developer is arguing that the JMZO is deficient because it does not specifically include a B-11 Mid-Rise Apartment Use in its language. It is asking the supervisors to amend its ordinance to cure the deficiency and allow for the use.


“We’re here to address what I hope everyone here will recognize is a problem and work to try and figure out a solution to it,” said Murphy.


Land use attorney Joe Blackburn told the planners, “We are not here to talk about the plan we submitted. The desirability of development on the bypass or in the township, in general, is not the topic of conversation for this application. Traffic, the desire for preservation, historical significance, and open space is not the subject of this application. And zoning armageddons [read “Are You Ready for Newtown Zoning Armageddon?”] are not the subject of this application.”


“What is the subject of this application and the sole issue before you tonight (and the supervisors in July) is whether or not the joint zoning ordinance provides for a B-11 midrise apartment use,” said Blackburn. “That is it.”


Joseph Bagley, who has been retained by the township to defend the ordinance, refuted the developer’s claim that standalone apartments are not included in the ordinance and as a result the ordinance is invalid.


“I believe the ordinance is valid even though it provides for garden apartments only as a form of subdivision,” he said. “Garden apartments are a form of multi-family use that is permitted in the township. There are other forms of multi-use residential permitted in the township,” he said.


“And when you look at the Municipalities Planning Code and what it says zoning ordinances must provide, it doesn’t say apartments and it certainly doesn’t say mid-rise apartments. It says a reasonable range of multi-family uses,” said Bagley. “That’s exactly what it says and that’s exactly what Newtown provides and that’s exactly what the board of supervisors will find that it provides.”


Added Planning Chair Peggy Driscoll, “The current ordinance provides for nine different types of housing for residential uses. Apartments are permitted. We have Newtown Place, which is 150 units and it provides one, two and three bedroom apartments.


“Something of this density, people have to understand the effect on the school district, on the infrastructure of the town. If you want to build, build as zoned. Build as permitted,” she told the developer.


If the developer is successful with its challenge, it would be able to move forward with its development at the site. However, another battle could be looming on the horizon for the property.


The Patch has learned that the Newtown, Bucks County Joint Municipal Authority is currently appraising the property as it investigates it as a potential site for a future sewer treatment plant.


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  • “20 June 2023 Planning Commission Meeting Summary: Second Salvo of ‘Newtown Zoning Armageddon(tm)!’";
  • “14 June 2023 #NewtownPA Board of Supervisors Meeting Summary by John Mack”;
  • “Lawyers Representing Kushner Real Estate Present Their Zoning "Validity Challenge" to #NewtownPA Planning Commission”;
  • “Sketch Plan Submitted for Apartment Complex in #NewtownPA's OR District”;
  • “Listen: Kushner Real Estate Lawyer Wants to Amend JMZO to Allow "Apartment Complex" Use in the OR District”;
  • “Developer Challenges #NewtownPA Zoning to Allow 245 Unit Apartment Building in OR District, But Sh*t May Happen”;
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Newtown News of Interest
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