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Pennsylvania township must decide on age-related zoning change

A development company in a northern Philadelphia suburb must wait at least a few months to learn if its planned housing area can undergo rezoning to modify the age restrictions for residency.

Seven years ago, the developer received the permission of the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners to build housing units that could have a maximum of three residents each, with at least one required to be age 55 or older.

The developer returned to the commissioners a few weeks ago, asking to rezone the land. Instead of building age-restricted housing, the developer wants to erect dwellings to cater to an age-targeted group. The developer cited a shift in the housing market concerning older home buyers.

The commissioners originally had approved a development to contain 39 semi-detached houses on 14 acres. The homes would cost $205,000 or more.

The developer told the commissioners that with small homes that will have no more than three bedrooms and won't exceed 28 feet in width, they will appeal primarily to empty nesters and not to families raising children. But there would be an opportunity for more people to move into the development.

A planning consultant estimated that about eight children would live in the development. The consultant said that when the cost of their education is subtracted from the revenue the township would gain in property taxes, the township would see a $100,000 profit. He also said that the zoning change would have a minimal effect on traffic, with only 10 more vehicle trips per hour during the weekday morning rush expected.

The requested change in plan has drawn the attention of area residents, who said that just because the homes are not optimal size for children does not mean children will not occupy them. Or, it could mean that parents in the targeted 40- to 50-age range might see their older children move in to save money in a struggling economy, leading to a parking logjam in the area, one resident said.

The commissioners are expected to vote on the plan in September, and if unsuccessful, the developer may need to go through the courts.

Source: Springfield Sun, "Developer asks for zoning change on Boorse tract," Joe Barron, June 19, 2012

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