Revised Sunset Orchards housing development plan still raises concerns
UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. — The design of a controversial proposed housing development has improved, residents say, but more work needs to be done.
Upper Macungie Township Planning Commission reviewed a new conceptual design for the proposed Sunset Orchards on Wednesday.
- Developers presented a revised conceptual design for the proposed residential development Sunset Orchards
- Planners and residents previously raised concerns about the plan, prompting the revisions
- Residents of the nearby neighborhood still had concerns about their privacy and the layout of the plan
Sunset Orchards is a proposed residential development consisting of 110 twin home units, which are similar to duplexes, and 106 townhome units.
The development would be built at Schantz and Ruppsville Roads. The property used to be a tree farm, but now is unoccupied.
The developer, D.R. Horton, submitted the new conceptual design after residents and commission members expressed concerns about the original sketch plan for the project at the October Planning Commission meeting.
“That is why we went back to the drawing board, to look at the layout, to look at the concerns that were raised, and to see what we could come up with."Rolph Graf, Senior Project Manager at Landcore Engineering Consultants
Senior Project Manager at Landcore Engineering Consultants Rolph Graf spoke at the meeting on behalf of D.R. Horton.
“That is why we went back to the drawing board, to look at the layout, to look at the concerns that were raised, and to see what we could come up with," Graf said.
But residents of the nearby neighborhood still had more concerns with their privacy and the layout of the plan.
Changes to the plan
Graf presented the changes to the plan to the Planning Commission. He said the developer took out the connections between the new development and the existing neighborhood to the south of it.
“We completely understand that the uses are slightly different, and a little bit of separation is not a bad thing,” Graf said.
The plan now also includes more space between the new and existing properties and a landscape buffer between them.
Graf said the main road in the development now will be public instead of private so buses can drive on it — another concern raised by residents at the last meeting.
Bastian Lane also now will connect with the main road in the development, but the developers still are deliberating whether the intersection would be a three-way stop.
Several residents from the neighborhood next to the proposed development thanked the developer for revising the plan based on their concerns, but still raised issues.
Resident Scott Weigel asked whether the developer could put the homes on the northeasternmost part of the development on the other side of the road so they would not be next to his yard.
“I’ve actually just built a whole new patio system out there, and I don’t want to see them,” Weigel said.
Weigel also warned the developer of sinkholes that have been discovered in the area.
“Hopefully the people that move into those homes are going to have the common decency to respect everybody's property. The developer can’t assure that."Charles Deprill, chair of the Planning Commission
Resident Deb Barnes raised concerns about safety and asked whether the development could have a crime watch and plenty of streetlights.
Chairman Charles Deprill said streetlights are required under township ordinances, but the township cannot require a security watch.
“Hopefully the people that move into those homes are going to have the common decency to respect everybody's property," Deprill said. "The developer can’t assure that.”
Multiple residents also raised concerns about whether the new development would cause flooding on their property and whether the stormwater management facility should be placed in the southwestern corner of the development.
At times, resident comments conflicted with each other. Some residents wanted a fence to divide the properties, others wanted a wall and still others wanted to preserve the existing trees.
Commissioners Vice Chairman Paul McNemar pointed out those conflicting viewpoints to the residents.
“I’ll remind all of you that no one is going to be 100 percent satisfied,” McNemar said.
D.R. Horton will come before the township Planning Commission again in the coming months with a preliminary plan for the development.
Planners also discussed another proposed residential development, known as Trexler Pointe. The plan is to develop 128 townhome units near Route 100, and Weilers and Schafer Run roads in Breinigsville.
The Planning Commission recommended approval to the final land development plan for the residential development.