On Monday, 4/26 Derry Township
Supervisors will be voting on a matter that affects the
character of Deer Run Park and the Swatara Creek
unanimous opposition from citizens, township supervisors
voted in January to change the zoning of the Espenshade
property, adjacent to the park, on Swatara Creek, from
agricultural conservation to village residential. The question now is whether there will be 45 homes and
streets to support them on roughly 10 developable acres
that border creek and parkland, or whether the developer
must abide by regular village residential guidelines and
build half that density.
Since increased housing density brings its own
problems, Derry Township has an ordinance (350) which
requires that proposed cluster housing substantially improve
all of the following areas: preservation
of open space, protection of environmentally sensitive
areas, reduced road maintenance, reduced housing costs
and greater efficiency of traffic and utilities.
The proposed plan for ‘Southpoint Meadows’ does
not increase open space (twice the number of homes
on the same developable area) nor does it increase protection of the creek bank and watershed (double
the impervious surface in this environmentally sensitive
costs are estimated at $280-300,000 for homes on lots
smaller than the surrounding neighborhoods. This
is not lower cost
It is clear the necessary conditions for
clustering are not met in this proposed plan.
Derry Township already experiences
some of the costs of rapid development.
During the past 10 years this
township had the fourth highest rate of construction of
new homes in the midstate area (Patriot-News report
that time, 700 new students were added to our schools
and we spent millions in a school building program.
Dr. Brewer reported last week the schools have
been dipping into one-time funds to cover ongoing
expenses and cannot continue to do so. We
experience increased traffic through all our
neighborhoods when we add homes without improving the
transportation grid to businesses and school.
Very importantly, the lost opportunities to
conserve open land on a creek in an important watershed
and to add needed parkland in an area of planned
development (as called for in township Parks and
Recreation Master Plan) are forever lost. We will have
participated in the Swatara Creek Greenway Commission,
but failed to carry out its recommendations, which
include a 1000 foot agricultural conservation buffer
along the creek.
As Mr. MacQueen wrote earlier, what
is the point of all the planning if we do not pay
attention to the plans? The comprehensive plan itself calls for a 10 year review, now
years overdue. A
review does not mean a piecemeal look at where a
developer can make a deal with the township on a
particular piece of property, but a comprehensive look
by the community at where we have come over the past
years and where we want to go.
Perhaps the sense of this town now is to say
‘SLOW DOWN’ as our Hummelstown neighbors are saying
to traffic. It
is important for Derry Township to abide by its
ordinance that there be substantial benefit before
allowing clustered homes and by its well-laid plans,
including that of regular review.
These things are part of ordered growth.
Come to the township supervisors
meeting this Monday night, 4/26 at 7 pm at the township
happens to Deer Run Park, Swatara Creek and Derry
Township growth is a question of interest to all.