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Developing in Horsham Could Cost More

In anticipation of the Willow Grove air base redevelopment, the Horsham Township Council is taking steps to increase its traffic impact fees for new construction.

It will cost developers more money to build in Horsham under a proposed ordinance that would nearly triple the traffic impact fees paid for new construction.

The Horsham Township Council introduced an ordinance to establish its new transportation impact fees during Wednesday's meeting. The proposed ordinance, which is slated for an early January adoption, is the final step needed to update Horsham's 20-year-old Act 209 Plan, which sets the amount developers pay.

The original plan set traffic impact fees at $826 for the eastern portion of the 17-square-mile township and $480 for the western portion of the township. As proposed, the fees would increase to $2,366 for the east and $2,235 for the west, according to Horsham Township Manager Bill Walker. 

Traffic impact fees are worked into a fairly complicated formula which takes into account the anticipated number of new trips generated from any given project. 

Besides the fee boost - which Walker said is largely based on increases in traffic improvement costs - the proposed ordinance would include the entire 1,100-acre Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove.

"The line for the map is drawn in a way that it divides the base," Walker said. "The whole entire property of the base is now included in the plan."

With the exception of the 238-acre Horsham Air Guard Station, the bulk of the air base closed in September 2011 and is awaiting an expansive mixed-use redevelopmentmore than 1,400 homes, a new middle school for Hatboro-Horsham School District, a 13-acre aviation museum, a 133-acre office park projected to create more than 7,000 jobs, a robust town center and more.

And, since early base redevelopment could potentially begin in 2016, Walker said the township wanted to have new fees in place well in advance. 

"We have roads to put through there and we need money to do that," Walker said. 

The proposed ordinance would be in place through 2023, at which time it would need to be reviewed and most likely the fees would be updated, Walker said. 

Township Councilman Gregory Nesbitt said the ordinance would require that a developer's transportation impact fees be used in the geographic area of the land development.

Horsham Township engineer Russell Dunlevy of Gilmore and Associates Inc., said that the fees would be used to help cover various upgrades, including roadway widening and signalization, as well as improvements for future boulevards.

Fees would be applicable to both township and state-owned roads, Dunlevy said. Although, developers could only provide 50 percent of the cost to upgrade a state road. 

"The rest would have to come from PennDOT or the township," Dunlevy said. "There’s a different allocation for township roads."

Nicholas November 16, 2012 at 07:14 PM
That's the way to encourage development, raise taxes! The town council is so incompetent that it makes me want to vomit. Unfortunately, they're so entrenched in the good ol' boys system that it's all but impossible to get them out.
JHat November 17, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Where did it say taxes would be raised for this development? Seems to me that the cost would be covered by the developer, and in the grand scheme of development of over 1400 houses, $2000 is a drop in the bucket for them.
Joe Coffee November 17, 2012 at 02:24 PM
If we would have let UPS and Federal Express use the airbase and it's recently upgraded airstrip for commercial use there already would be countless high paying jobs and no costs to the township of it's residents. Unique one of a kind high paying jobs that would never go away. $Greed kills! Every resident of Horsham Township has been bamboozled.
Mike Shortall Sr November 17, 2012 at 02:34 PM
It's simple really. The traffic problems around the airbase are legendary, and they will only get worse with development at the airbase. So why should Horsham taxpayers pay for those infrastructure costs (road improvements) that will benefit rich developers? The Township (i.e. taxpayers) will most likely have to develop - and finance - the installation of planned roads through the airbase property prior to meaningful redevelopment. WHy should we pay for those costs and any necessary improvements to the existing roads? Let the developers pay. Believe me, they'll make enough in the end.
Mike Shortall Sr November 17, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Ha ha ... No thanks! Horsham residents would get hosed in that arrangement. Large cargo jets landing at all times of day and night, over our homes, businesses and schools?? The REGION and large corporations and would benefit, while Horsham would suffer for it. That's the other side of GREED you're not addressing, Joe. It's the very reason Horsham grabbed the HLRA control over the airbase redevelopment.
James Kephart Jr. January 13, 2013 at 11:11 PM
Have to agree with Mike here. I know what a cargo jet landing at 2am sounds like. 3X the existing cost does seem like a well timed money grab though...

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