Applebrook Meadows Takes Step Backward
Toll Brothers failed to meet a condition of its land development approval, stoking Willistown supervisors' wariness about the development.
Back in October, Willistown granted a land development request to Toll Brothers for the second phase of its Applebrook Meadows development, contingent on eight conditions.
The one condition tacked on at the last minute—a third-party perc test—proved to be a sticking point for the developer.
At its Feb. 11 meeting, Toll Brothers representatives were back before the Board of Supervisors with an upgraded, costlier water management plan, again seeking land development approval for Phase II, which would add 53 new houses on the way to a total of 138.
Instead, they got a pop quiz and were told their request would be tabled pending review by the township solicitor.
Alyson Zarro, who represented Toll Brothers at the meeting, said the new plan would upsize basins to accomodate future needs of neighboring Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital.
Board Chairman Robert Lange called the incorporation of the hospital a "good move for PR," but said he was suspicious of why Toll Brothers abandoned its original proposal less than 48 hours after the independent perc test was required.
"Why do you have to change plans if it's going to work? I don't know why that happened, I have my suspicions. I think you thought you could do it a cheaper way, a more economical way. And if it did fail down the road, we would have a problem on a PNDI site. Toll Brothers would have sold their units and moved on," Lange said, before laying out a possible chain of events.
"Water may or may not perc. If it didn't perc, it overflows, it goes onto a PNDI site, it goes onto the barrons. The homeowners association is going to be very upset. They're going to come back to the supervisors, saying we did not do a very good job. And, it's a mess."
Pop Quiz: What's a PNDI site?
As Zarro was wrapping up her presentation of the revised water management plan, she said, "We are seeking approval of the Phase II plan tonight, and we'd be happy to answer any questions."
"I have some questions," Lange replied, as he tore of five sheets from a yellow legal pad. "But I'm going to do something a bit more unorthodox. I'm going to give you a pop quiz."
He distributed the blank pages to Zarro and four other Toll Brothers representatives in the audience, and asked them to answer two questions:
- What does PNDI stand for?
- What is the importance of PNDI?
The answer: The PNDI is the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory, a catalog of "threatened, endangered, special concern species and special concern resources in PA" run through the state Department of Conservation of Natural Resources. The area around Applebrook Meadows is a PNDI site, Lange said.
After a few moments, he collected the pages, donned his reading glasses and graded the tests.
Zarro performed well, calling it by an outdated name, the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Index. Some of the other sheets' simply left question marks in place of answers.
"Half of you did very well. The other half didn't know anything about it," Lange said. "The bottom line is, the PNDI site is very critical. The state of Pennsylvania recognizes there are rare and endangered or threatened species there. The township recognizes it's worth protecting."
Unless he was convinced Toll Brothers did its homework, Lange said, he'd have trouble approving their requests.
Supervisor Bill Shoemaker said the township had only received the new plan before the weekend, giving the solicitor insufficient time to review it.
He raised a motion to table the vote until a future meeting, which passed unanimously.