Developer seeking zoning relief in challenge to Conshohocken’s Borough Council removal of residential uses along the riverfront

Correction – Please find a correction to a portion of this article here.

Conshohocken’s Borough Council voted 7-0 on April 20th to adopt an ordinance that removed residential uses within the four specialty planned zoning districts that consist of the entire riverfront and the SORA West site. While discussing the issue, the borough council expressed concerns about the influx of new residents from the four already approved or under construction apartment communities and the impact it will have on emergency and other services.

The recent move by the borough council now forces someone trying to construct a residential development within the four specialty planned districts to seek zoning relief from Conshohocken’s Zoning Hearing Board or convince the borough council to amend the code once again to allow it.

As reported in the lead-up to the vote by the borough council, there is only one large undeveloped property remaining along the riverfront and it is owned by Millennium Waterfront Associates II, LP, an entity associated with Brian O’Neill. In the above image, we have marked this property with a red x.

This property was most recently approved for an office building that was never built. It was one of the sites AmerisourceBergen considered for its corporate headquarters before it selected SORA West.

O’Neill developed (but no longer owns) all of the buildings shown in the image that are below (to the right of) Ash Street. Ash Street is shown with a red line from Washington Street to the river. Three office buildings, Millennium 1-3, are designated with the appropriate number. Londonbury Apartments is marked with a four and Riverwalk at Millennium with a five. The six marks an adjacent piece of property that straddles the border with Whitemarsh Township and has an approved plan for apartments. That approval stems from a settlement agreement between the Borough of Conshohocken and O’Neill dating back to 2015. O’Neill has since sold the property.

Millennium Waterfront Associates II, LP has now filed a zoning application that seeks “variances from and/or an appeal of a zoning decision from Section 27-1502 and Section 27-1511 of the Conshohocken Zoning Ordinance related to the proposal to development (sic) the subject property with a residential use.” The application is currently on the May 16th agenda for the zoning hearing board, however, we are told it will likely be pushed to a later date.

The borough council is going to consider taking a position on this application during its meeting scheduled for May 4th. From the agenda:

Consider the Borough’s position on the Zoning Hearing Board application filed by Millennium Waterfront Associates II LP, and, as necessary, authorize the Borough Solicitor’s office to attend the Zoning Hearing Board hearing

Taking this action will allow the borough council to offer its opinion to the zoning hearing board and be a party to the case, which allows it to call witnesses, appeal any decision, etc.

More to come.