Editorial by independent journalist Bill Bostic
Lower Paxton Township supervisors face a decision next month on an issue that has attracted significant attention on Linglestown’s section of private, social media website Nextdoor.com.
Lower Paxton-based Triple Crown Corp. (TCC) has proposed a revision to the Residential Retirement Development (RRD) provision of the township’s zoning regulations at the behest of the township supervisors, who want more housing in the township that allows folks to “age in place.”
If the zoning changes are approved, TCC plans to file a plan for a mixed-use retirement-style community at what is now Blue Ridge Country Club located on the western edge of the township along Linglestown Road. It most likely would have about 350 housing units, some commercial lots along Linglestown Road and a 30-acre park that would be earmarked for the township to develop. Housing options would be luxury apartments and single-family and town homes, and an assisted care facility with a memory-care unit. Most of single-family and town homes would feature stepless entrances, single-floor living, wheel-chair accessibility and low maintenance.
TCC looked at the RRD and concluded that the regulation was a key factor in why developers for the most part have not pursued retirement-style housing in Lower Paxton. Only two developments used the current RRD and both were not very successful, according to TCC. The only one that I’m aware of is located along Union Deposit Road across from the Central Dauphin School District’s bus garage.
The revised RRD regulations that the township supervisors are tentatively scheduled to review on 9/19/17 have been developed over the last year with significant public input. TCC has revised the proposal numerous times to address input from elected and volunteer township officials and the public. To be fair, there is no way anyone can accuse TCC of crafting the proposal in isolation.
It’s also important to point out that TCC’s revised RRD has been unanimously approved by township, county and regional planning commissions each time it has been reviewed.
Is this a perfect ordinance? No.
Is it an improvement over the current one? I’d say a hundred times yes.
Is it a good fit for Blue Ridge Country Club? That question is hard to answer because there are folks making good arguments for and against it. Heck, the supervisors are split on the issue as evidenced by their rejection in May of TCC’s first proposal by a 3-2 vote.
Traffic issues on Linglestown Road are the chief concern of those who don’t want TCC to get the go-ahead to continue working on their Blue Ridge project. Without getting deep into the weeds on this issue, please note that the township supervisors rejecting TCC’s proposal over traffic congestion could land the township in court. For more information on this issue, take 15-20 minutes to view my interview with Fred Lighty, the longtime chairman of the Lower Paxton Township Planning Commission. (Skip over my opening comments and start watching when Fred shows up.)
The township supervisors are the ones on the hot seat. They sent TCC down the path toward redeveloping Blue Ridge as an “aging in place” housing community. TCC was not given a guarantee of anything, but the supervisors willingly worked with TCC as the company spent significant time and money crafting a revised RRD with the help of a ton of public input.
It will be interesting to see what the supervisors do on 9/19/17. I don’t envy the spot they’re in but that’s what they signed up for when they sought the office.
The question before the township supervisors and those who care about the fate of Blue Ridge is whether or not we are going to make a move toward bringing “aging in place” housing opportunities to our community.
If the consensus is yes, the supervisors better grab this chance and immediately start an all-hands-on-deck effort to address traffic congestion on Linglestown Road. The supervisors approving TCC’s revised zoning regulations and then letting others pursue ways to calm traffic congestion issues is unacceptable.