UPPER PROVIDENCE >> The board of supervisors has unanimously rejected acceptance of open space within a development because the land contains structures and other improvements added by adjacent neighbors.
Based upon Township Solicitor Edward Skypala’s recommendation, the supervisors authorized a deed correction on June 6, transferring maintenance responsibility for designated open space from the township to the Toll Brothers Regency Home Owner’s Association.
“Toll Brothers gratuitously deeded it over to the township without the township considering acceptance and in order for it to take place officially, theoretically, there’s supposed to be an offer and an acceptance because the township doesn’t have to accept it.” Skypala proposed the township wait to accept the land until he project is sufficiently competed and after the township engineer makes recommendations.
When supervisors’ Vice Chairwoman Lisa Mossie asked for the location of the open space, “does it benefit us at all,” supervisors’ Chairman Phil Barker said, “it was always intended to come to the township,” before adding that it usually comes to the township as an engineer recommendation. Mossie confirmed, “we’re giving it back.”
The opens space, identified as lot 112 of Regency at Providence, cannot be conveyed to the township until all improvements including hardscape, ornaments and other items are removed from the area.
When Supervisor Al Vagnozzi identified affected residents in the audience, Barker said, “normally this would be taken care of during citizen comment period. If you have a question or a spokesperson for the group, if you have a question on what has just taken place, we’ll entertain those questions now.”
Skypala explained the process, “the township, all townships, when they accept open space property like that they can’t accept it if it has private improvements from individual homeowners on it because that would be a liability to the township. I understand there are residents that have made improvements in the open space that have been contacted by Toll Brothers to remove that.”
The township solicitor then offered a possible resolution not reviewed in advance with the supervisors. “Because this is an improved plan in your development, if your own homeowner’s association was willing to take responsible for the open space and give the township the benefit of what they were looking for which was essentially a trail open to the pubic through there, maybe something could be worked out.” Skypala said it is Toll’s obligation to get it cleared off before it can be dedicated to the township.
When Woods End Court resident John Bennett asked “a very simple question. what’s the definition of an improvement. Is a bird feeder an improvement,” Barker said the township would look past a birdfeeder but he is aware that a pond wired with electricity was installed in the open space. Mossie said, “anything with footers and concrete would probably be considered an improvement”.
Bennett’s neighbor Cheryl Monaco reported that two years ago when she asked township permission to clear poison ivy and dead trees from the common land when was told “as long as you don’t put anything permanent.” She said after installing a one-inch high stone path in her backyard she is now being asked to remove it.
Skypala told Monaco, “the problem with that is it makes it look like it’s your property when you identify a walkway that is clearly going from your private property onto a public right-of-way. “ Monaco described the path as a circle of stone on the open land for everyone to enjoy. Barker reminded Monaco that township open space is open to all township residents.
Regency homeowner Jim Pickens asked, “if it a gated community bordered by a piece of property that has general access how is it now still a gate community? I don’t understand that logic. If behind my home, anyone can walk in there, and basically bypass the front gate, how am I in a gated community? ”
Barker told Pickens that land was always intended to become township accessible property.
When Pickens’ neighbor Rosemarie Cunningham asked who would decide what residents added to the open space would be considered permanent improvements, Skypala said, “right now, it’s Toll Bros.” Cunningham said she’d learned from Toll Brothers that “if the board felt that what was done was acceptable, that Toll Brothers had no problem. So I don’t know who is having the problem with it.” She said her community is at a loss of how to proceed.
Barker said Toll Brothers will need to ask for an inspection by the township engineer. Skypala said, “it is a very practical reason. If they request it, our consultants get paid for by Toll Brothers.”
In other development news, the board accepted Township Engineer William Dingman’s recommendation and approved the Morgan Tract planning module.