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Carroll Valley development re-debuted

(3/6) Representatives of a development that failed to get off the ground twice during the past dozen years in Carroll Valley Borough presented their renewed plans before the borough Planning Commission at the board‘s March 4 meeting.

The Eluma, Inc. is seeking to develop a 107-acre, wooded tract, known as the Mallow Tract, bordered by Sanders and Tract roads and butted-up against the borough’s K-section residential area.

Representing Eluma at the meeting was Ronald M. Lucas, attorney, and Bill Kick, project engineer.

What the development company is proposing is to construct a development on the tract in phases that could span years before the project is built-out (all the properties sold and all the dwellings constructed).

Lucas explained that developers have generally been moving away from conventional development schemes due to changes in the housing market that resulted from the ongoing economic crises.

"We do see small projects starting (up), but no one knows when the market is going to improve," he said. "There is very little happening" with any major development construction. "Developers are trying different things."

The developers essentially don’t want to be locked-into an up-front housing design. The development could consist of 120 to 150 new homes, depending on what, if anything, is ultimately approved by the borough.

To deal with an unpredictable future, while advancing the proposed development in Carroll valley, Eluma is proposing to construct a "flexible" development in phases, with the housing types to be constructed in each phase to be determined essentially by supply and demand.

"No one can predict today all of the housing types somebody might want" as time progresses, Lucas stated, noting right now, most homebuyers are looking for minimum indoor and outdoor maintenance (such as lawn care), thus generally rejecting larger homes with large lawns.

The site has been tentatively divided up into ten development "pods," as dictated by terrain, each pod earmarked for a specific type of housing, ranging from single-family, detached dwellings, to apartments. Each of the pods would be developed as a phase of the development.

Kick stated that the plans before the commission are only conceptual sketches. "The sketch plan to be (formally) submitted may look very different from this. We just don’t know the answers yet (regarding what might impact design changes)."

Concerns expressed about the preliminary sketch plan presented at the March 4 meeting included:

  • Using an existing K-section road to access the development;
  • Minimizing the amount of land to be cleared during any given phase of the development;
  • The possibility the borough might be faced with in dealing with multiple developers on different parts of the same development project; and
  • Impacts on the water table and traffic patterns (the developers have already proposed significantly upgrading the borough wastewater treatment plant)

However, to even essentially get the project off-the-ground, the developers will need for changes to be made by the borough in the municipal zoning regulations through a text amendment, which is presently being prepared by Eluma.

The proposed text amendment will be considered at upcoming meetings of the planning commission and borough Council.

The borough Planning Commission took no formal action on the preliminary sketch plan.

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