Floodplain Development Goes to Zoners in Hatboro
The Hatboro Borough Council did not take a position on a plan to construct 16 two-story apartments in a flood-prone part of town.
On the same night the Hatboro Borough Council denied financial assistance to flood-ravaged homeowners seeking government buyouts, elected officials heard an application for a commercial landowner seeking to build in a floodplain.
The application, which entails constructing 16 two-story apartments where several auto repair businesses stand on 332 S. York Road, garnered little comment during its borough council review Monday night.
Council President John Zygmont said the council did not take a position on the application, which goes before the Hatboro Zoning Hearing Board on Wednesday night.
Councilman Bill Tompkins said that if the property owner, Horizon Property Management, receives the requested waivers to build in a flood zone, the landowner's development plans would come back before the council for approval anyway.
Despite still dealing with flooding ramifications from the frequently flooded Woodwinds community, the council did not seem to be dissuaded from the possibility of building in an area known to flood.
Zygmont told Patch after the meeting that he did not know what the "engineering" entailed for the proposed apartments. If approved, the dwellings would be built one foot above the last substantial flood, which saw waters rise to about four feet, according to Jim Case of Horizon Property Management.
Woodwinds, on the other hand, which also abuts Pennypack Creek, was "put together at the convergence of a series of hills," Zygmont said.
Herb Rubenstein, an attorney for Horizon Property Management, said during Monday's meeting that the existing 98 percent impervious coverage at 332 S. York Road would be reduced to about 40 percent. All but Manja Pizza would be demolished to make way for the apartments, he said.
"In reality our application is to change from one non-conforming use to another non-conforming use," Rubenstein said of the car businesses and the potential of building residences in the flood zone. "We feel this is an upgrade on the zoning on this property. It will get rid of all these automotive uses."
Should the development move to fruition, Rubenstein said its residents would be notified in the event of potential flooding. Vehicles would be move to "higher ground," he said, adding that the parking lot at neighboring Lehman Memorial United Methodist Church is a possibility.
Mayor Norm Hawkes said the plan sounded good "in theory."
"But, in reality there are going to be people you’re not going to be able to get a hold of," Hawkes said. "We don’t want cars floating around again."
Woodwinds property owners, dealing with ramifications of past floods and, like the owners of 332 S. York Road, contemplating a property buyout, said the development should not be permitted to move forward.
"Why would you build something there?" Woodwinds property owner Pat Weidner asked Patch following the meeting. "Make it green."
The application will be heard during Wednesday night's zoning hearing board meeting at 7 p.m. at the Hatboro municipal building, 414 S. York Road.