engineer sydney Tom Sofield

Before a packed room at the William Penn Fire Company Wednesday, the Hulmeville Borough Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend conditional use approval to the Hulmeville Borough Council for a plan to build 120 residences.
Gene Lorenzetti of Superior Holdings LLC is proposing building three 11-unit apartment buildings, 49 townhomes, and 38 single-family homes at the 45-acre site off Trenton Road. The property is known as the Harriet Black Family Farm.
Hulmeville Borough Council will hold the conditional use hearing on March 15 at 7 p.m. at the fire station on Main Street.
If conditional use is approved, the proposal will still have to go through the land development process and come before council again for final approvals.
After the Wednesday evening meeting, Hulmeville Borough Planning Commission Chairperson Dan Mandolesi, who also serves as council vice president, said the planners felt compelled to recommend conditional use so council can hold a full hearing on the matter. The planning commission is only an advisory body for council.
Mandolesi explained they understood many residents came out and had strong opinions on the plan, but the planners have to be fair when they make a recommendation.
The latest version of the plans by Superior Holdings feature more homes than the 111 residences proposed last year.
Superior Holdings still needs to make adjustments on their plans, and Mandolesi said feedback is being offered from Amanda Fuller, of Gilmore and Associates, the borough’s engineering firm.
The current plan includes access to Trenton Road at the top of the hill. The development would also keep large portions of the property open, create a walking trail network, add stormwater mitigation measures, and create several green areas for community activities. Of the 38 single-family homes, two would be off Pennsylvania Avenue and not be connected to the rest of the development.
If the development is constructed, a homeowners association would be established to maintain the open space and amenities, representatives for the developer said.
Matt Hammon, who is working for the developer and is executive vice president at Traffic Planning and Design, said a traffic study is still being finalized for the site. However, he said the developer is proposing pedestrian improvements and widening Trenton Road in the area of the development entrance to allow for safer turns.
Rob Cunningham, the engineer for the project, said the developer is also looking at options for adding an emergency access point for the development.
Ed Murphy, the attorney for Superior Holdings, said tweaks will be made to the plan in the coming weeks based on feedback.
Many residents have strongly opposed the plans and a campaign to “Save The Hulmeville Hill” has been started. Signs have been popping up in the borough and surrounding towns for months.
The property, which is composed of several lots, is under private ownership and current zoning allows for the development of residences. A previous plan that was dropped would have led to 84 homes being constructed, but the developer would have needed zoning variances to gain approval, so the idea was dropped.
Resident Mary Johnson spoke and said she worried about water runoff from the property, which sits on the large hill overlooking the borough. She also cited a concern a homeowners association wouldn’t be able to take care of water runoff issues that may come up in the future.
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Nadine Johns, a resident, had concerns the plan was being recommended if the plan wasn’t finalized.
One resident stated they worried there would be more traffic and more residents, which may require additional police officers for the historic small town on the banks of the Neshaminy Creek.
Murphy said the police department and emergency services are funded through real estate taxes and not by developers.
Lynda Jones, a 30-year resident of the borough, said she was concerned about flooding. She noted her home had flooded in the past and she has had to put money into repairs. Additionally, Jones said she was worried about whether the sewer system can handle the additional homes and also chemicals from lawn treatments washing through town.
Murphy said the developer is looking at traffic impacts and also reviewing rainfall data to plan accordingly.
After the meeting, Trisha Boyle, a 56-year borough resident and former borough secretary, said “disinformation and hysteria” have taken over the conversation surrounding the proposed development. She noted the developer owns the land and has the right to build on it, something residents of the borough have known is possible for years.
“It would be nice for the developer to reconsider building single family homes, but that doesn’t seem that is what he has in mind,” she said.
She said the council crafted a policy to deal with development at the farm a decade ago, adding she believes Hulmeville Borough officials will do the right thing if plan moves forward.
In the past, plans to develop the Black Farm have fallen apart. Mar Marc Builders looked at constructing 47 single-family homes, but that did not move forward.
Harriet Black, who lived at the farm, died in 2016 at the age of 94. She was highly involved in the Hulmeville Borough community and served as the tax collector and borough secretary. Her son continues to live in a farmhouse on the land.
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