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Residents concerned about potential runoff from proposed gated community

Published September 14. 2011 05:01PM

A gated community proposed for Lower Towamensing Township has caused angst among several property owners fearful of major water runoff.

A trio of residents aired their concerns with the township's board of supervisors on Tuesday over the Boulder Oaks Development planned to be built by Brian Stroup.

Resident Joann Banas said she had "disapproval" for one portion of Stroup's gated community.

"The engineers told me it would be released onto my property; but it's going to be the entire community," Banas said. "If it's one inch as he's proposing, we're going to have a flood."

However, township engineer Jim Nanovic noted the plan has received conditional approval.

Resident David Hawk, who said he's lived in that area since 1975, questioned who would be responsible in the event problems occur, to which Nanovic replied "it would be the property owner."

But, resident Wayne DeWalt said the property owner is "an absentee landlord."

"I've lived out there for 35 years; what's the guarantee that the value of my property's not going to change," DeWalt asked. "If I want to sell that property with that retention pond, is it going to change the value of my property?"

DeWalt then told supervisors he would "come after the township" from a legal standpoint, to which supervisors Chairman Ron Walbert asked "is that a threat"?

Nanovic told DeWalt that the township would not be liable.

"Then you'd sue the entire development," Nanovic said. "That's who you go after."

Regardless, DeWalt said his concern is that of water runoff.

"I'm not fighting him on putting it in here," DeWalt said. "He's putting a football field retention pond behind my property."

But, Jay Mullikin, a member of the township's planning commission, stressed that the plan still has to clear several hurdles before it's officially approved.

"There have been many reviews by the engineer, and the plan has met all our requirements," Mullikin said. "He only has conditional plan approval right now."

Nanovic said the developer has to meet the requirements of the township's Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO), and has to build it according to the plans.

Walbert told the concerned residents "it's hard to deny someone use of his property."

"Our hands are tied somewhat," Walbert said. "In my estimation, we're going to make sure he's going to post a heavy bond; the roads must be built to the current standards."

Mullikin noted it hasn't been decided whether a homeowners association or the township will own the roads.

DeWalt said "we aren't trying to stop this; we're trying to prevent this before it starts."

Hawk asked what property owners are supposed to do to ensure their properties maintain their current value.

"What about the equitable use of our property," Hawk said. "Water runs downhill no matter what."

Walbert told the residents that the board is "bound by certain laws."

In an unrelated issue, resident Edward Barna said he was concerned with water coming off Springhouse Lane.

"The amount of water and the force is making a grand canyon in my backyard," Barna said. "With this economy, the money is not there for me to do anything drastic."

Walbert assured Barna the township will visit his property to check on the situation.

"We're going to a new format where we're going to be putting storm water boxes in," Walbert said. "We're trying to upgrade the way we're handling storm water."

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