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Parkland News

Four years in the making, South Whitehall gives Ridge Farms development more time to meet conditions

230308 Ridge Farms plans.jpg
South Whitehall Township
A plan for Ridge Farms presented at a recent Planning Commission meeting.

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP. — A controversial development that would bring a "mixed-use walkable community" of housing, shops and outdoor eateries to South Whitehall Township has gotten more time to meet township conditions for approval.

The township Board of Commissioners on Wednesday also debated a major new project for Parkland School District.

  • The large Ridge Farms development was granted an extension to meet township conditions as further development on the site remains on the horizon
  • A new self storage facility was given the okay by the township near the Ridge Farms development site
  • Longtime firefighters in the township were given official recognition, followed by standing ovations for their service

The first phase of Ridge Farms development, a large mixed development of apartments, restaurants, and office space proposed for Cedar Crest Boulevard between Walbert Avenue and Huckleberry Road was, was given until July 6 to meet the township's many conditions for the project.

Conditions listed as not yet met include securing required water and sewer service work, meeting satisfactory reviews toward comments made by the township community development department and parks and recreation board, and additional work regarding stormwater management.

The Kay Builders development was met with outcry from some residents before and after it was granted approval by the township in 2019, who were concerned about excess development and traffic impacts.

A preliminary plan for the development was approved in 2021.

Ridge Farms Early Work
Jay Bradley
Early work at the future Ridge Farms development site

The first phase would be a 30,000-square-foot St. Luke's medical office at North Cedar Crest Boulevard and Walbert Avenue, as well as various roadway, stormwater management and utility service work.

Work at the site has started, including tree removal and the preparation of construction equipment. Excavation, stormwater piping installation, and temporary traffic signal work are set to continue on the site through the rest of the year.

The final plans for Phase 1B of the project, set to include five apartment buildings with a total 60 units, 14 two-unit dwelling units (seven pairs of twins) and various road extensions, are listed for the township's April 20 Planning Commission meeting.

Housing options in the initial proposal include single family homes, apartment buildings and duplexes.

New schools operations center tabled

Action on a new Parkland Schools Operations Center proposed for 2619 Stadium Drive, across from Orefield Middle School, also was tabled Wednesday for further review.

It would house maintenance and custodial services, the technology department, the food services division and the safety and security division for the district.

It got the recommendation of the township Planning Commission in February.

"It gives us time to do our homework," Commissioner Brad Osborne said.

Commissioner Jacob Roth brought up concerns about how parking during football games may be affected, given the current proposal's plans to add curbing and sidewalk to what now often is used to park when crowds go to the nearby school.

Parkland School District officials say operations now are based mainly in the Troxell building at 1210 Springhouse Road, but some departments operate in other buildings, and the project has been a long-standing goal. This new development would allow things to operate under one roof.

The project likely will be completed in 2024.

Self Storage Building Approved

The township gave the thumbs-up to a three -story, 112,800-square-foot self-storage facility at 3350 and 3354 Walbert Ave., diagonal from the Ridge Farms development.

The Montar Group LLC construction was approved with conditions such as compliance with pedestrian walkways and sidewalk ordinances.

Applicants say the building has been designed to ensure it fits in with developments nearby.

Commissioner Monica Hodges was the sole dissenting vote, voicing concern about the proposed left turn on the development that she believes may cause issues with trailers, and saying more could be done to adjust the design to fit the character of the area.

230317 SWT Self Storage Building 2.jpg
South Whitehall Township
A rendering of the self-storage facility proposed on Walbert Avenue.

Firefighters recognized for service

Two long-term South Whitehall volunteer firefighters were given recognition by the township followed by standing ovation by township officials, fellow fire department volunteers and other attendees.

Fire Chief Jay Heicklen of Cetronia Fire Department is retiring after 23 years of service, while Deputy Chief Richard Tice of Woodlawn Fire Company has completed 50 years of volunteer service.

Both were commended by the township commissioners and given official copies of the proclamations.

"I can tell you people South Whitehall Township that this South Whitehall Fire Department has evolved into what I would think is a professional fire department," Tice said in his remarks following the proclamation.

"You guys have well-trained emergency workers in all aspects and I can guarantee you anyone living or passing through South Whitehall will not have a problem with the service they get, God forbid they need us."