House call Plans underway for 247 new homes next to hospital

By on December 26, 2012

By: GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

The final meeting of 2012 was "traditional" for Warwick Township’s board of supervisors.

Topping the agenda was discussion of a proposed Traditions of America development on the Buckwalter tract, adjacent to the Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center. Next was the passage of the 2013 fiscal budget which, for a 22nd consecutive year, held the line on taxes.

Traditions of America is looking to build its 18th community targeted for residents 55 years of age and above on a 60 acre parcel of the Buckwalter property. A special hearing had to be held prior to township supervisors making a final decision on the developer’s conditional use application, a first step toward making the new community a reality.

Nathan Jameson with Traditions and Chris Venarchick of RGS Associates were both on hand to present a wealth of information on the property and proposed development.

In this first phase of the process, the group was seeking only the conditional use approval from supervisors. With that approval, the group could then move forward with preliminary plans, storm water management engineering and more detailed site development.

As presented, the development would eventually include 247 homes, of which 175 would be single homes with the balance being duplexes. Density of the project would be at 4.1 homes per acre, below the five homes per acre allowed in R2 zoning.

The community would be specifically marketed for an demographic of homeowners 55 and above who still lead an active lifestyle. Some would still be actively employed while it is anticipated others might be employed part-time through home-based businesses and part-time jobs. The development would include an attractive entrance feature, a club house, pool and parks. By design, the development would enhance Bachman Run which runs along the edge of the site as a feature of the community. Narrow streets and short blocks would help to encourage slower speed traffic and further encourage the community as a place that is very pedestrian-oriented.

"This project fits will within the current zoning," noted Venarchick. "And it would be a good buffer project between the hospital and retail developments on one side and property on the other."

As part of the conditional use permit the developer would need to make various traffic management improvements including possibly vacating parts of Hess Lane or providing a second access beside the main entrance on Millport Road. One access discussed was an access used by the Heart of Lancaster Hospital.

"Those discussions are well along," said Jameson. "The hospital is very open to this possibility, but we have not yet finalized any agreement."

Jameson pointed out that this would be an ideal location for such a development.

"This community would be very pedestrian-friendly with easy connection to existing trail projects, and close proximity to the hospital, drug stores, restaurants, grocery stores and the Target."

And from a tax perspective, developers detailed their projections that by developing the site into residential properties the tax impact would be considerably better than developing it for commercial or retail uses.

Supervisors will have 45 days in which to consider the testimony presented by the developer before rendering a decision on whether or not to grant the conditional use permit. There was no testimony made in opposition to the request.

2013 Budget

Township residents have not seen their taxes increase since 1990, and that tradition will continue in 2013.

Supervisors voted unanimously to pass a budget which holds the line with real estate taxes held steady at 0.274 mills. On the average home assessed at $200,000, that would translate into a township tax bill of $54.

Warwick Township Supervisors approved this budget at their November meeting, making it available for public review prior to a final vote Dec. 19. The new budget takes effect Jan. 1.

Included in the budget is the completion of the 2017 Impact Study and the hiring of a full-time coordinator for Warwick Emergency Services Alliance (or WESA).

The new WESA Coordinator will be a joint effort between Warwick Township, Lititz Borough and Elizabeth Township. According to Dan Zimmerman, township manager, the three municipalities are still working through the details of the new position, including budget and job description.

"All three municipalities are supporting the position," he said. "We are going back to (PA Department of Community and Economic Development) DCED to work out a revised amendment to the charter for WESA. The goal is to have the position filled by late spring of 2013."

The 2013 budget also funds the start of Phase II of the Rails to Trails.

It also earmarks over $825,000 for roads as part of the annual road maintenance program. This will also include completion of Highlands Drive, a joint project with Lititz.

An 18-year-old dump truck is slated for replacement.

And the budget also established the compliance program for the new MS4 storm water management program set to take effect in the new year.

"Revenues for this year did exceed projections," reported Zimmerman.

Supervisor Herb Flosdorf commented on the budget saying, "I will gladly recommend this budget for adoption. I think that’s wonderful." More WARWICK TOWNSHIP, page A3