Controversy over Robal Associates' Sycamore Woods Condominiums continued at Tuesday night's Charlestown Planning Commission meeting.
Robert Bruce Balbirnie, president of Robal Associates, approached the planning commission Tuesday with his real estate lawyer, James Tupitza, in hopes of working out zoning issues for his new Planned Residential Development (PRD) plan off Sycamore Lane.
"This plan's not gonna fly no matter what you do," said Chairman Mike Allen. Allen added that a significant amount of work needs to be done to go through with the plan.
The PRD Plan for the Sycamore Woods Condominiums encompasses over 30 acres, with 50 condominiums split into both single-family houses and townhomes. Single-family homes will cost approximately $600,000 each, with the townhomes running about $425,000.
"It's the right thing to do, we agree," said Tupitza.
The builder agreed that the plans needed fine-tuning after receiving review comments from Tom Comitta, township planner and president of Thomas Comitta Associates, Inc. Tupitza noted that the proposal hadn't changed because the ordinance hadn't changed but said that Robal was trying to work with the commission.
"The more money we spend on engineering details on this, the further away we get," said Tupitza. He added they have "a significant amount of money invested in this right now."
Tupitza and the board debated over what certain technicalities in the township meant, such as the definition of a structure.
"This is nonproductive. We're not going to get anywhere debating what I and you think it means," said Tupitza.
Allen replied that the issue is going to drag out for a long time.
In regards to Comitta's comments, Tupitza said there was "nothing in these comments that gives me any great concern." He had seen worse problems elsewhere.
Water and sewage issues were also discussed, in addition to zoning. Tupitza described the issue as "worse than fickle."
"My understanding is people that benefit are from around Charlestown," he said.
Tupitza did not want the well water from the property pumped elsewhere. He also did not think that opening a sewer system in the Sycamore PRD would open the area to further development.
The commission asked if the builders were asking neighbors to hook into the sewer system, but the price of tapping in would be costly.
Balbirnie said it's "much more marketable. People prefer public water and public sewers."
Planner Bill Davison said Tupitza was "making a valid argument, but no one's stepped up."
Planning Commission member Michael Churchill said Robal's plan was "certainly not gonna get approval as it stands."
One of the most heated issues concerned the number of units for the PRD. Discussions centered around allowing 19 units, but that number was determined to no longer be an acceptable figure.
Balbirnie said that 19 units was the minimum acceptable amount, unless each home is located on a 50,000 square foot lot that owners would be able to mow themselves.
No firm number has yet been set, and supervisors likely would not approve 19, according to Allen.
"What's in front of us isn't satisfactory, and we're waiting for something better," said Churchill. He added that it "may turn out that both sides are wrong here."
"We don't expect to be approved by this council. We expect it in the courts," said Balbirnie.
The Planning Commission insisted they did not have the power to allow Robal's plans to go through.
The meeting ended with a motion by Davison "for the applicant (Balbirnie) to sit with the supervisors to discuss plans and add more open space, then come back to the planning commission."
Balbirnie and Tupitza will meet with the Charlestown supervisors to negotiate their PRD plan. They also have a hearing scheduled for the 17th.
The homes will have three bedrooms with driveways for two cars and one- or two-car garages. The development will have both sidewalks and curbs. Over 15 1/2 acres of open space will be allotted.