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Pennsylvania housing project one step closer to approval

A proposed residential real estate development in Upper Macungie, Pennsylvania, northwest of Philadelphia, has received conditional approval, despite the objections of area residents.

The Upper Macungie Planning Commission approved the preliminary plans for a community of single-family homes and townhouses on Twin Ponds Road. A representative for the developer told the commission the plan is to build 22 single-family homes and 63 townhouses, but those numbers displeased area residents, who had come to the meeting to learn more.

Residents said the developer initially had told them the plan, designed in 2007, consisted of 53 single-family homes and a reduced number of townhouses. Neighbors said they feared that more units would bring more cars and other negative factors.

One resident said she bought her home on a promise she would have a single-family home, as would her neighbors. She said she thought the number of cars passing her home would go up threefold, while a neighbor said he worried for the safety of children in the area.

The commission gave its approval after hearing from the township traffic engineer, who told them that experts say townhouses actually bring fewer cars to a community than single-family houses do. The commissioners refused to waive the construction of sidewalks, a requirement the developer wanted to erase. The developer's representative said the project engineer would cooperate with township planners to create a sidewalk along Twin Ponds Road.

While the commission chairman said he understood residents' concerns, he said it wasn't his group's duty to quash the project. The final decision lies with township supervisors of the township.

If residents in any community do not feel satisfied that a public agency has heard their concerns, they have a right to seek relief from a higher body, which is the panel of supervisors is in this instance. But the home developers also have a right to proceed with their plans, as long as they comply with the law.

Source: Upper Macungie Patch, "Developer Wants to Build Townhouses on Dunbar Tract," Margie Peterson, May 17, 2012

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