The event that spawned our creation was the sale and proposed development of the Stray Winds Farm. We applaud Triple Crown Corporation’s (“TCC”) efforts to meet with SWAN and create a dialogue for cooperation, collaboration, and constructive engagement. We have met, and will continue to meet, with officers from TCC as well as all interested parties affected by the proposed development.
However, this process of partnership and collaboration has been a challenge. At a workshop session on February 14, 2006 with the Supervisors, TCC presented a plan for the Stray Winds Farm for up to 494 dwelling units. The plan had limited buffers, no improvements to McIntosh and Crums Mill Roads, no senior housing, and below-market townhouses. The Supervisors cited concern about the traffic, but noted that issue fell under the purview of Penn DOT. At that meeting, we stated that SWAN could not support TCC’s plan while the housing figures moved from 402 to 453 to 495 and possibly up to 745 units for the proposed Traditional Neighborhood Development model.
SWAN did support TCC’s plan on April 27, 2006 when the Stray Winds plan was presented to this Board. Members of our group previously provided testimony for and against an identical application. TCC has continued to address the concerns of various neighboring property owners. As we noted in our testimony before the Zoning Hearing Board, SWAN can not offer a legal opinion, only TCC can explicitly address legal, technical, and financial matters related to their variance request.
We believe this project represents a innovative social partnership that will help Lower Paxton grow smart. The TCC-SWAN agreement may be the first proposed Community Benefits Agreement (“CBA”) in Central Pennsylvania.
In the past, protracted litigation based on NIMBY (“Not In My Backyard”) was the norm in suburban enclaves. This CBA is also unique in that previous agreements have been executed primarily in low-income or inner-city venues. Lower Paxton Township played a critical role in encouraging and facilitating dialogue between industry and township residents.
TCC addressed many of the concerns raised by those who live in close proximity to the farm, and agreed to attach the following reasonable conditions to the variance request application before the Zoning Hearing Board:
- Specifically, TCC agreed to provide age restricted housing on lots 3 and 6, increased the size of natural buffers, build, construct and maintain a 8,400’ bike and pedestrian pathway, and supplanted low-end townhouses off of Paxton Church and Crums Mill Road with more desirable units. TCC has also taken out additional developable land, pushed the amount of preserved open space in Lower Paxton Township up to 48% (or 111 acres), and extended buffers on the Paxton Creek up to 150” on each side of the waterway.
- The Company’s original plan contained a minimal land buffer on Paxton Church Road from Crums Mill Road back beyond Haven Croft. We asked TCC to insert a 50’ to 70’ buffer, plant evergreen tress, and move the development north. The Company agreed to SWAN’s requests and lost three units in the process.
- As a condition for the variance, TCC has agreed not to seek condemnations for Hillsdale, Valley View and Woodcrest Roads and Woodcrest Circle, or build “as a right” on Hillsdale and Valley View Roads. TCC allowed SWAN to reconfigure the unit layout in lot 6 that abuts Valley View Road.
- TCC has also committed to 8,400’ pedestrian and bike pathways on the perimeter of portions of lots that are contiguous to Paxton Church, Crums Mill and McIntosh Roads. Lighting will be extended to the trail for safety and security reasons.
While we are anxious to move pedestrians off the road; especially during dawn and dusk hours, we feel there may be a need for additional lighting. TCC is open to the idea of more lamps, and receptive to the use of LED lighting on the Trail. This combination would use substantially less electricity, and comply with the “Dark Skies” program which is designed to prevent light pollution.
The number of units was the most difficult part of the negotiations and a sore spot for SWAN members. TCC has accommodated SWAN on a number of concepts and committed to age restricted units in Lots 3 and 6 as part of their variance request. In other words, 53% of the units will be sold to active township residents 55 and older. This proposal grows the tax base without stressing the capacity of the Central Dauphin School District.
SWAN provided detailed concerns to the Supervisors and Planning Commission relating to traffic congestion and safety challenges. We remain concerned about the ability of our roads to accommodate increased traffic during regular and peak periods now, tomorrow and into the future with increased development.
SWAN is fully aware that additional impacts will occur as a result of development along Colonial Road. TCC has agreed to spend $1.8 million to address chronic traffic problems in the Township. TCC has also agreed to contour an already dangerous intersection at McIntosh and Crums Mill Roads as well as McIntosh and Colonial Roads, and the Company will be required to make other improvements to roadways within their boundaries as well as maintain internal traffic conduits.
We appreciated the effort made by TCC to incorporate our comments, concerns, and suggestions. SWAN is vested in the process and we will continue to work with representatives from the Township as well as officers of TCC in the development of the Stray Winds Farm.