Last night Whitemarsh’s Zoning Hearing Board unanimously approved a variance request that involves a proposed townhome development off North Cedar Grove Road. The variance sought was very specific and involved a needed access road into the property. The township has zoning ordinances that cover how much a property owner can disturb geographical features. The developer, The Cutler Group, requested to disturb more than what is permitted. The access road will have to disturb a small part of a man made slope that was created when the Schuylkill River was dredged and they dumped the removed sediment at this location. To contain the sediment, they basically created a crater and filled it in. The sediment didn’t reach the top of the crater, so there is a sloped rim on the Cedar Grove side of the property.
There were about 25 people in attendance that opposed the project. A handful registered to be protestants (not Protestants, but pro-test-ants), which allowed them the opportunity to ask questions, present witnesses, etc. Since the issue before the board was only regarding the access road and its need to disturb the slopes, the most forceful residents that spoke asked the board to stick to its rules and not provide the variance. Concerns about traffic and safety were also brought up.
The main thing regarding a variance application is that the applicant has to provide a hardship. The applicant showed that the its property bordered other private and public properties and the only direct access to a road was its property line on North Cedar Grove. If the applicant can show that the zoning provides a hardship, its need to disturb the slope to reach the road, it is hard for the Zoning Hearing Board to turn them down. The question was not whether to allow the townhomes, it was only whether the applicant could disturb the slope to reach the road.
More to come.
Please note that the image at the top of the article shows a diagram that shows 163 units, not 159 as it was discussed last evening.