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Another green space versus development dispute erupts p2

7/17/2014 | Real Estate Blog

We are talking about the Springgfield Township dispute over the fate of a 42-acre tract of land. The owner of the land has asked for a zoning change; his plan is to build an assisted living facility and some age-restricted housing. The neighbors would like the land to remain undeveloped green space — or at least part of the land. They have offered to purchase the acreage set aside for the houses and roll it into a public trust, but they need three years to raise the money.

According to the landowner’s attorney, it isn’t the green space that they really want; they want to keep the area low-density. If the neighbors were so determined to bar any development from the land, he said, they should have thought of that earlier. The property has been on the market for 10 years.

Further, the three-year hiatus would stall the construction of the assisted living facility, and the company that would build it would likely pull out. The owner would be bearing the expense of owning the land while he was barred from getting any money out of it. His allies suggest that asking someone to postpone using his own land as he sees fit, using his land in a way that the township itself says is consistent with its master plan, is absurd.

The current proposal leaves more than 60 percent of the site as open space. The land, however, will remain privately owned.

The township’s Board of Commissioners voted against the zoning change recently, effectively killing the assisted living facility project. Commissioners’ reactions to the loss varied. One believed that the facility would have been fine; he just wanted the housing development out of the proposal. Another said he favored the facility in general but would rather see it built elsewhere. Yet another said the township was throwing away a great economic opportunity.

One of the neighbors commented that the defeat of the zoning variance was an opportunity for the landowner and the neighbors to work on a better proposal. He may have forgotten that the landowner has an approved development plan that he can now move forward with. Under that plan, the age-restricted housing would cover the entire tract.

Source: Montgomery News, “Springfield Township Board of Commissioners deny zoning change for Tecce tract,” Eric Devlin, July 11, 2014