"This is rural township, that's why I moved here," said Tom McGovern, 88, a resident of Middletown for 33 years. "It's a great township, and I want to leave it the way it is."
Developers have asked the Township Council for a zoning change that would allow the project to go forward. The council did not vote Tuesday night, and members expect to hold at least one more meeting before making a decision.
One council member, Mark Kirchgasser, said at the meeting, at Penncrest High School, that he believes the plan is too dense.
Plans for the Franklin Mint site have captivated Middletown residents since developers bought the property in 2005. The mint, a coins and collectibles manufacturer, closed in 2004.
The first redevelopment plan was shot down by the Township Council in 2006 after an impassioned fight by some residents to stop the plan, which called for a 300-room hotel, 1.3 million square feet of retail space, and 1,300 residential units.
Many who oppose the new plan have the same concerns: traffic, size and sustainability.
"I don't like the way the developer is leading people down a primrose path," said Harry Postales, 52, a contract manager and Middletown resident for 20 years.
With shopping available in neighboring communities, Postales worries that there won't be enough people to support the development.
"It will become a desolate eyesore," he said.
Developers argue that the inclusion of homes, businesses, and a hotel in the development will help ensure the success of shops and restaurants.
Developers also have a plan for traffic. They plan to widen Baltimore Pike and build two loop roads to ease traffic congestion at the intersection of the pike and Route 452 (Pennell Road), a problem zone. The traffic upgrades will reduce congestion at the intersection by 42 to 59 percent during peak weekday hours even after the development is built, according to estimates by the development team.
Developers want the council to approve a zoning overlay district that encompasses nearly 300 acres, including the former mint site and its environs. If the district is approved, those who own property within it will have the option to develop under the old zoning rules or those outlined in the overlay district.
Another meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Penncrest High School auditorium.
Contact staff writer Joelle Farrell at 610-627-0352 or firstname.lastname@example.org