Supervisor decries ‘Great Wall of China’ at The Preserve

Brutscher expresses frustration at Toll Brothers’ changes to housing development

By Mike McGann, Editor,

Although approved by township supervisors Monday, the board expressed frustration Monday night at Toll Brothers' changes to The Preserve site plan.

POCOPSON — It might not be visible from space, but a series of walls planned for The Preserve have township supervisors frustrated, with one referring to a retaining wall/fence addition to the site plan — which could be as high as nine-feet tall in sections — as “The Great Wall of China.”

At Monday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, supervisor Georgia Brutscher expressed frustration at the changes made to the development plan since being taken over by Toll Brothers. Previously, under various developers, the most recent being Brandolini, the development went through a multi-year approval process for single-family homes near Locust Grove and Corrine roads — and Brutscher expressed frustration at the addition of a combination of retaining walls and fencing and the increased size of the homes in the amended final land development plan, presented Monday night.

Mike Klein, the project manager for Toll Brothers, said the combination of retaining walls and split-rail fencing is to compensate for the some of small back yards on the lots, offering both increased space and added privacy for prospective homeowners.

In addition to frustration over the retaining walls, there was some concern about regrading of the back yards of a couple of the properties and questions about whether there were issues with township zoning regarding steep slopes and who would be responsible if there were erosion issues at the site.

While Brutscher was the most vocal board member during the meeting — and has been a fairly constant critic of Toll Brothers’ both for this project and Riverside, the single-home/townhouse development on Lenape Road — her fellow supervisor, Lauressa McNemar noted similar concerns, both with the walls and steep slopes being regraded. Brutscher is the only supervisor who was on the board during the original approval process for the development under Brandolini.

McNemar said she would “very reluctantly vote for approval” noting that while she didn’t like the changes, there was little in the way of grounds for the board to reject the amended final land development plan.

The approval covers just the first phase of the development.

Meanwhile, supervisors also took Klein to task over issues at Riverside, including concerns about sidewalks and roadway plowing during recent snow storms. Although Klein is not responsible for Riverside, as Toll Brothers’ representative, he caught a blast of frustration from supervisors.

Supervisors chair Steve Conary said that the township received numerous calls from residents of the development, complaining that sidewalks had not been shoveled and asking whether there were township ordinances requiring residents to clear walkways. As Riverside is one of the few ares in the township with sidewalks, there are no current ordinances regarding that issue. Conary suggested that the Riverside Homeowners Association is responsible and needs to address the issue.

There were also some complaints about plowing in the development — done by a contractor hired by Toll Brothers, with some roads allegedly not being plowed in a timely fashion. The developers remain responsible for the roads after the township declined to take over the roads in Nov., 2010, citing various shortcomings with the roadways.

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