Cold Spring Hunt Rezoning Approved

Posted: May 28, 1989

Despite protests from neighbors, Buckingham Township's Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a new ordinance Wednesday to clear the way for Cold Spring Hunt, a controversial, proposed high-density, 265-house development by Toll Brothers.

About 150 residents showed up to demonstrate their opposition to the development. Those who spoke argued that the board was "spot zoning," or caving in to special interests.

"The Buckingham Township Civic Association has always been unalterably opposed to 'spot' zoning, particularly when the developer is the sole beneficiary," said Willard Irvin, a board member of the citizens group that was instrumental in organizing the opposition. "We resent the use of intimidation by Toll Brothers against the Board of Supervisors and citizens."

"We don't feel we have given away the store," replied George M. Collie, board chairman. The board had won concessions from the developer, Collie said, and the deal was in the best interests of the township.

The project would be at Cold Spring Creamery and Landisville Roads and west of Route 413.

In a deal negotiated in January, the board succeeded in lowering the density of housing the developer was legally entitled to build, Collie said. Instead of 344 units on 91 acres, the stipulation called for 265 units on 169 acres, according to Collie. In exchange, the board proposed to allow the developer to build on the adjoining 78-acre Myers tract in addition to the 91- acre Yaroschuk tract, which was zoned for up to 272 houses.

Last week's zoning ordinance amendment downgraded the Myers property from R-1, or one-acre lots, to R-2, or 1.56 dwelling units per acre. At the same time, it upgraded the Yaroschuk tract from CA-1, or 3.8 units per acre, to R- 2.

"We have grave concerns about the legality of actions taken by the supervisors in this matter," Irvin said. He said the association might seek legal action.

"It is very uncomfortable to sit here and have to make this decision," said board member Janet D. French. "But what I see here tonight is far more intimidating than anything that has happened so far in this matter. What Toll Brothers can do I cannot guarantee.

"They can play hardball," French said. "I don't know if they will. . . . We have leverage that we can get something good in that part of the township."

One of those opposed to the rezoning was John Cunningham, a member of the township planning commission. He argued that adoption of the amendment was a precedent for the board to use spot-zoning as a means of handling future requests by developers.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the board reviewed the ordinance in a work session with the Planning Commission in the township manager's outer office. While Cunningham and fellow commission member Muriel Gordon opposed the change, other members favored it. Some did not attend and expressed their support in writing.

In a related matter, Collie reported that he had told the developer of a tract adjoining Cold Spring Hunt that the board was not interested in a zoning change to commercial use of the 30-acre Leslie Homes tract.

Also, the board gave final, unanimous approval to a resolution increasing sewer service charges from $300 per EDU, or equivalent dwelling unit, to $400. The rate increase would become effective with the first quarterly service bills issued for the township's $8.7 million public sewage system, which went into service in April.

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