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Lansdale Townhome, Twin Development Moves Ahead

A property at 815 N. Towamencin Avenue at Spring Alley, adjacent to the former American Olean Tile property, received the OK from the Lansdale Code Enforcement and Land Planning Committee this month

A proposed one twin and five townhome development on a property at N. Towamencin Avenue and Spring Alley in Lansdale, adjacent to the former American Olean Tile property, received preliminary and final land development approval earlier this month from Lansdale's Land Planning Committee.

Now, it's up to council to give the OK; the borough and county planning commissions are in favor of, and have already given their approvals for, the project.

At present on the property at 815 N. Towamencin Avenue is a single-family bungalow with a dilapidated chicken coop structure in the rear of the property. The property is bordered at the rear by a grown-over, unused alley.

The property is owned by Lansdale residents Kevin Dunigan and Mike Riccio, who also own the property that houses Virago Baking Company at 322½ W. Main St.

The existing bungalow — which is currently for rent via Riccio Real Estate — and existing garage will remain on the half-acre property. The chicken coop at the rear of the property will be heading to the Dumpster, Dunigan said, and cannot be convereted into a garage.

"It's beyond repair," Dunigan said.

Four townhomes will be built along the rear of the property and twins will be developed next to the bungalow along N. Towamencin Avenue.

The new townhomes and rear of the twins and existing home will be accessed via a new entranceway/alley off Spring Alley.

Riccio and Dunigan plan to pave the portion of Spring Alley that fronts their property.

"Most of the traffic will come out to Towamencin," said engineer Jason Smeland of Lenape Valley Engineering. 

The plan calls for one rear parking spot and one on-street parking spot for the twin. The plan calls for two spots per townhome: one in the garage and one in the driveway.

The bungalow will have a 20-foot by 20-foot rear parking area.

Spill-over parking will be allowed on N. Towamencin Avenue and in designated areas on Spring Alley.

The entranceway, as well as all properties, will be managed by a homeowners' association.

Community Development Director John Ernst said the county planning commission had suggested parking lot areas be joined together between units instead of greenspaces. Ernst said the applicants are not willing to do that because of potential legal disputes that could arise out of shared parking down the road.

"They were thinking we could end up with a bit more greenspace," Dunigan said. "But that would be where any utilities would be, so no trees could be planted there regardless."

The borough planning commission approved a waiver for an ordinance that states proposed alleys are prohibited in residential development.

"It makes sense to have the alley to hide the parking from Towamencin Avenue, and have it centralized, so that the twins, single and townhouses can all use same access and keep it hidden in the back," Smeland said.

Two seepage beds are proposed for the site for stormwater management.

The borough planning commission also approved the use of a 10-inch sewer pipe over the required 15-inch sewer pipe, due to the flatness of the site and issues with outletting detention basins, Smeland said.

Committee member Matt West asked about residents' concern for cut-through traffic on Spring Alley.

"Spring comes from Maple to Towamencin avenues, so you can get through there the whole length of that," Smeland said.

Dunigan said there is no other residential home on that block.

"The fire chief has reveiwed the plan, and made the recommendation that there be no parking on the alley except in designated parking areas," Smeland said.

West said the proposed development is the type of development Lansdale needs.

"In-fill," West said. "You'll hear no argument from me."

There was an argument from neighboring property owner Jeff Maier.

Maier, a Doylestown resident who owns 301 W. Eighth Street and 403 W. Eighth Street, had concerns over what is being done in Lansdale as far as long-term land planning.

"When we plan something, what's it going to be like in 20 years?" he said. "That's why we have codes."

Maier argued that the twin needed two parking spots per unit for off-street parking in the borough. He said it was "smart planning."

"This site plan troubled me for the twins — it only has one spot each, and it needs four spots for the two units," he said. "That should be on the site plan."

Towamencin Avenue, he said, is a snow emergency route.

"(I've been in this neighborhood) since I was 12, cutting the grass. We're going to live there; I'm going to be there for the next 20 years taking care of these places. I take pride in my buildings and do the right thing," he said. "As long as I can remember, we've had to get everybody off the street for plowing. If there's cars parked up and down that street under snow conditions, it's going to be hard to plow that. It's a dead end."

Maier said it's not good planning to encourage on-street parking.

"It's not going to slow down cars on this dead-end street. It's going to be a quagmire to park on Towamencin," he said. "They are going to be parking on my side of where my building is."

Maier also said paving the alley will be a nice thing, but will it be paved like a driveway or paved like "there's trash trucks coming up and down that alley."

"Are they going to maintain that path 20 years from now when it needs to be paved again?" he said. "I'll say no. This place is going to be sold. They're not going to be around. I'm going to be around. My friends are going to be around. It makes good sense on site plan that they should have the right number of spaces."

Smeland and Ernst acknowledged the applicant complies with parking specifications.

"We have one parking space for each twin and no garage for the twins," Smeland said. "If we do need the second space for each of the twins, we have the space to do it."

Smeland said paving will be BCBC six-inch stone, and the alley will be graded in to create a channel.

"It's a big spec and is costing a lot of money to do this. It's built to last," he said. "It will improve the stormwater system there as well."

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