During the October 19th meeting of Whitpain Township’s zoning hearing board, an application involving a two-story, 56 unit, age-qualified, income qualified, independent senior living, multi-family residential project was granted variances to move forward at 953 Penllyn Blue Bell Pike in Blue Bell. The application was from Federation Housing.
The zoning relief involved how many dwelling units can be on an acre and how many parking spaces are required with the commercial zoning district, along with a the type of required buffering. The current zoning allows eight dwelling units per developable acre and the applicant sought 19. The parking requirement is currently 140 off-street parking spaces and the applicant sought 38 such spaces. The applicant also sought to have reinforced turf emergency access along the western property
boundary in lieu of a permanent screen and buffer plantings.
A major concern expressed by the zoning hearing board was that if the variances were granted, the property could eventually be sold and the new owner would no longer maintain the housing with the same age/income restrictions which would overwhelm the parking, etc.
Neighbors expressed concerns such as resulting traffic using side streets to avoid the intersection of Pennlyn and Skippack pikes. There are also issues involving traffic flow and parking in the area. Another concern was why type of barrier would exist between the community and the neighbors.
When granting the variances, the zoning hearing board added conditions to address these issues. They include that the property must keep the restrictions involving age/income, the developer must obtain an agreement for additional parking, it must obtain an easement for emergency access, that four additional parking spaces be kept in reserve (meaning it can be grass now, but the township can require this space to be converted to parking), and the placement of buffer fence if requested by neighbors.
You can watch the hearing here (scroll to 39:34).