|Democracy in action|
"Because they can," was Planning Commissioner Kenn Edinger's blunt response.
Before the night was over, six of the seven planners approved two waivers (road width and speed limits) and two deferrals (sidewalks and curbing). Planning Commission Chair Lee Snover abstained because she knows Traditions principal Biddison and had previously voted to approve two more dense projects at this site.
"We count on you guys to be our guardian," complained Patti Barry. Melissa Davis echoed those concerns. "[T]heir [Traditions'] job is to make as much money as they can. Your job is to protect us."
Planner Les Walters responded that they are bound by the Subdivision and land Development Ordinance. He and other planners added that the Traditions proposal is not as dense as previous plans, is age restricted and would have less impact on traffic.
Kathy Glagola asked how Traditions will protect the wetlands when it is digging just ten feet away. She asked how Traditions planned on keeping geese our of the development. Her husband Jack noted that four detention ponds surrounding the wetlands would actually prevent the marsh from being replenished "We have a 20' deep swimming pool around the wetland and no way for water to get in there," he complained.
Though planners voted to grant waivers and deferrals,they were still skeptical. Noting that Traditions stands to make $108 million from this project Edinger minced no words. ""You're trying to get away with building this as cheaply as possible," he charged.
Despite the Planning Commission's recommendation, this development has a long way to go. Planning Director Nathan Jones stated that the Township has yet to hire its own consultant to determine the environmental impact of a residential development immediately next to a 7-acre wetland with 182 different migratory bird species. There may need to be an archeological study to assess evidence of a Native American settlement at the site. In the mean time, storm water and traffic concerns need to be addressed.
As the evening wore on, Planning Director Nathan Jones discussed an update to the parks plan, This brought Barry Roth, a member of the Rec Board, to the podium. He derided spending any money for toilets at the playing fields used by the athletic association, stating the money would be better spent on playground equipment.
I swear I have never seen anyone as opposed to a shitter as Barry, who went on to call Bethlehem Township's park system the "lousiest" he ever saw.
"I'll ask Traditions of America to do the bathroom,' joked Snover. "I'll bet they want their name on the toilets."