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Air Base Plan Signatures Away from Submission

The plan will be sent to the federal government by Friday; the Horsham Township Council considers forming a new authority to manage the development process.

The final roadblock for submitting the approved redevelopment plan for has been cleared, officials said Monday. 

An agreement has been reached related to a legally binding agreement for a roughly seven-acre parcel earmarked for homeless housing on the 862-acre tract, Horsham Township Manager Bill Walker notified the governing body during Monday night’s meeting.

“As of this afternoon we do have an agreement,” Walker said. “Signatures are expected Wednesday.”

From there, the mixed-use blueprint for the bulk of the 1,100-acre former military base will be submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Department of Defense on Friday, Walker said.

The finalized plan, which has been seven years in the making, had been . But, last week Horsham Land Reuse Authority Executive Director Mike McGee told Patch because of the inability to come to terms on a legally binding agreement for the submission.

Now, signatures away from being complete, Walker said that next step can finally be taken.

Looking ahead

With the redevelopment plan approved locally and awaiting review by federal officials expected to take anywhere from 12 to 24 months, Walker said the next logical step is for the township council to create an implementation authority to pick up where the HLRA left off.

Once formed, this new body would carry out necessary steps for the base property to transfer from the federal government to the yet-to-be-formed authority as an economic development conveyance. . 

As officials consider the projected for the base’s redevelopment, Walker noted that grant considerations are also an important part of the project.

“They normally will not give funding and a grant for an economic development application without having an implementation authority in existence,” Walker said.

The governing body took no action Monday night. Instead, Walker said staff would draft an ordinance for the council’s review at its May 9 meeting. It could then be considered for adoption during one of the council’s June meetings.

Walker said it is a roughly nine-month process to complete the economic development conveyance application. Once it’s submitted, negotiations would begin with the Department of the Navy, he said.

Horsham Township attorney Mary Eberle said, “what’s going to happen next is just as dramatic” as the redevelopment plan and approval. The economic development plan, she said, would demonstrate to the government that what has been proposed can work financially.

“In the ideal world, if everything went right we’re looking at all this to be completed by 2015,” Walker said. “We have a lot of work to do.” 

David Pitcairn April 26, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Mike, One last thing. I don't see why my commenting on homeless housing, that is required with or without and airport, should be inferred as having anything to do with an airport. It is an independent issue. I agree with you that residential housing will not be placed on land that does not meet EPA standards. RKG has said that they will look at all that if they have not done so already. Like you, I would hope they will either place it on land that does not need to be cleaned up or they will try and estimate the cost to clean it up if necessary. They said in one HLRA meeting that the cost to tear down the buildings will be spread across all tenants, or something very close to those words. I wonder if pollution cleanup will be handled the same way, assuming it is needed.
Theresa Katalinas April 26, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Hi, If you're referring to Shenandoah Woods, I believe part of that is going to be used to accommodate the homeless: http://patch.com/A-k48K
JG April 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Mike-Yes it is your opinion and I appreciate you removing your tone. These are all of our opinions and there is no need for tones. And regardless, the "slip in" for me is that there was really never any chance that I or anyone else ever had the power to veto something like this "military support housing" or whatever the term is for this. It was a decision that was going to happen whether anyone wanted it or not, whether it's the right thing to do or not just like the base closing really had nothing to do with the people who live in the township. Again, I just want the housing to be kept up and maintained and historically there is a certain level of degradation that comes from having "housing" such as what will be zoned in the old Airbase space. Frankly, there are people in my own neighborhood who can't keep their houses up and that makes me mad too. I will miss the airbase, the planes and the amazing skyline that I would see on a beautiful sunset evening. There are no views like that around here and now even that will go away. So in the end Horsham, like all the other townships, has caved into the usual boring, shopping centers, housing developments etc. How original for us. Just keep it clean!!!
History April 27, 2012 at 12:37 AM
I am not sure what went on in the Willow Grove Air Base but let me tell you about its sister site. Here’s a little story about the old Johnsville NADC in Warminster. It was listed as one of the top ten hazardous waste sites in the USA. Many years ago when we were fighting in WWII they were busy trying to develop chemical and biological warfare right there in Warminster. Many 55 gallon barrels of classified undocumented chemicals were buried there. I know because I grew up here and knew officers who were retired from there years ago. When they started building Anne’s Choice and the other businesses, I remember the reaction from a retired Vet before he passed. He told me you better hope they found all those barrels, and God help us all if any of them break open. There are 8 Aquifers that feed Warminster’s well water. One of them is directly below the old NADC. To this day the EPA has some sort of machine that is constantly testing the water only at the one Aquifer at the old NADC and will set off bells if it detects something. When I spoke to the EPA concerning the issue they informed me the only problem is they can’t test for the unknown. They can only test for acidy and chemical bases.
James Kephart Jr. May 04, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Okay then - To Monday morning quarterback all of this: I think the Pitcairn family should have had the opportunity to buy back the land at the same price the gov't guilted them into selling it for. Then all of us in the peanut gallery wouldn't have a say. It looks like the Pitcairn's would have kept the runway and incorporated a small airport (no fed ex/ups flights) into the development of the entire site. Just wait and see what the costs are to clean up parts of this site for use as residential property. A site in Sunnyvale, CA was estimated to have exceeded 1 million per acre back in 2000. Hope the contamination @ Willow Grove is minimal.

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