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Hearing slated for zoning changes for multi-hundred unit housing development

Richard D. L. Fulton

(4/15) The Carroll Valley officials voted April 15 to schedule a public hearing May 13 to consider adoption of zoning changes that could pave the way for a multi-hundred unit housing development.

In a unanimous vote, the borough Council agreed to hold a public hearing on May 13 on changes to the zoning ordinance generated by representatives of Eluma, Inc. and the borough Planning Commission beginning in October 2012.

To proceed with their development, Eluma is requesting changes to the zoning ordinance primarily relative to cluster developments.

The approval by the council to proceed to a public hearing was based on the recommendation made by the borough Planning Commission to do so.

Consideration of the adoption of the proposed zoning changes was referred back to the planning commission by the council at their February meeting to obtain answers to questions and concerns that had been expressed by some council members.

Borough Planning Commission Chairman Edward Kaplan told the council at their April 15 meeting, "I think this thing has been fully exhausted (before the planning commission). (Now) itís your job to vote."

"Our job in the planning commission was to provide information necessary to vote," Kaplan stated. "I think youíre ready now to move on to a public hearing."

The developer is seeking approvals that would ultimately allow them to construct the proposed multi-hundred housing unit development in phases consisting of a potential variety of housing types, depending on what types the housing market would support during each phase.

The build-out could would likely span an indeterminate number of years, and involve multiple contractors each working on different phases, or sections.

Eluma would, if the zoning changes are approved, proceed to the land development approval phase of municipal review, where it is expected they will seek approval of the project exclusive of locking the development into specific housing types.

The company has proposed to overhaul the existing sewer plant, incorporating the connections at their expense, as part of the current development proposal.

However, borough solicitor Samuel Wiser said at the April meeting that the offer to overhaul the wastewater plant could not be used as a bargaining chip in processing the zoning change, as it would appear that the developer was offering something to the borough in exchange for the passage of favorable legislation.

Eluma already has a circa-2006 approved 107 single-family home development, and is further "armed" with a court order which mandates that the municipality provide the development with sewer service.

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