Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
How did Montgomery County sell 220 acres of open space to a developer? It's a long and complex story, but our timeline will lay out the events that brought us to the threat of the present development.
Click below to understand the chain of events that brought us to today.
There was only one driving factor behind Montgomery County's sale of 220 acres of designated open space: politics. The sale benefitted no one except the politicians, and one politician above everyone else.
You cannot hop to understand this issue, or win the fight to save the land without understanding the politics and the players involved in it.
The link below will take you to a new site.
In May 2022, Scott Rifkin submitted the plan above to Upper Providence Township. He then promptly “withdrew” the plan, but also copyrighted it, which was highly unusual, if not unprecedented. Even though any documents that are submitted to the local municipality are considered public record, the Upper Providence Township solicitor’s interpretation of copyright law dictated that the Township could not release this plan under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know laws; if a resident wanted to view this plan, they had to make an appointment with the Township during business hours (8:30 am to 4:30 pm) to view the plan in person.
On December 7, 2022 this plan was put on the Planning Commission agenda and was finally available for widespread public dissemination.
This plan consists of:
· 153 Single Family Homes
· 177 Townhouses
· 144 “Multi-Family Housing” units, which are contained in 14 smaller apartment buildings with either 10 or 12 units contained in each.
· 684 Apartment units contained in 12 separate buildings
· 45 Assisted living units in one building. This building is technically the only building on the entire plan that the Township zoning permits.
Total: 1,203 Units.
For the last 30+ years, Upper Providence’s land development has been guided by an award-winning comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan contemplates the Township’s zoning and guides the leaders in their plans for future police, fire, EMS, roads, sewer, and school districts’ needs.
The Parkhouse parcel was NEVER intended to be developed at all, let alone this densely.
This plan, if developed, could increase our Township’s population by 10% or more. It will overburden our Fire, Police and EMS services, leaving us less safe.
It will diminish our property values.
It will exacerbate the traffic issues with which we all already struggle every day.
It will displace our wildlife and have a detrimental effect on our environment.
Worst of all are the impervious surfaces included in the plan. Sure, the developer paid lip service to stormwater runoff at the December 7 planning commission meeting. But their handful of barely recognizable detention “ponds” in the plan above are not going to be able to accommodate the storms we’ve become accustomed to seeing here. One inch of rainfall could produce 4 million to 5 million gallons of runoff directly up river from Mont Clare, Port Providence, and Phoenixville, communities that were recently devastated and are still recovering from flooding from Hurricane Ida in 2021.
The developer is claiming that this is a “by rights” plan under the Township’s Institutional zoning code. Typically, a by rights plan is one that follows the letter of the law. This would be true if this were a CCRC or Continuing Care Retirement Community. But it is not.
They are citing “the Worcester Decision” in justifying this plan as “by rights.” The Worcester Decision is related to the development of the Center Square Golf Course in Worcester.
Worcester Zoning has nothing to do with Upper Providence Zoning.
The developer is claiming this is a “by rights” plan by claiming the development will be age restricted to residents 62 or older. Initially, this will be a condition of development. But after the bulldozer blades hit the ground, the developer could petition the Township to change the zoning so that the Township does not have a failed development on its hands. This has happened before at the Ridgewood development and the Township Planner re-wrote the institutional zoning code specifically to avoid a repeat of the Ridgewood situation.
After the development is built, the only controls on the age restriction are the development’s own HOA, which can change the rules on age restriction at their pleasure. Then it will impact our schools.
But the loophole that the Ridgewood developer exploited, the loophole that Upper Providence closed, is the exact loophole that Scott Rifkin is looking to exploit.
This plan must be rejected by our Township Supervisors.
The Parkhouse Parcel is currently zoned OS Open Space with an IN Institutional Overlay. There is nothing in the existing zoning that allows the age restricted or age targeted housing, which is what the developer is proposing. Read the ordinance for yourself by clicking the link below.
Remember Parkhouse is a non-partisan, grassroots group of citizens advocating for the responsible use of the the 180 acres surrounding Parkhouse Providence Pointe at 1600 Black Rock Road, Upper Providence Township. Since 2013, these pristine parcels of farmland have been threatened by development due to Montgomery County's unprecedented sale of Open Space.
Join us to stop this irresponsible development and work for a plan that respects the history of the property and maintains the character of the neighborhood.
On January 19, 2021, almost seven years after the controversial sale of 220 acres of open space in Upper Providence Township, the developer presented his vision for the property to the Township at a public meeting.
The plan called for 500-700 apartments and an unspecified number of townhouse and single family houses along with office and commercial uses. Due to the community's overwhelming objection to this plan, which does not conform to the Township's zoning, the plan was never officially submitted .
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
On March 6, 2014, the Montgomery County Commissioners closed on the sale of Parkhouse and the surrounding 220 acres of designated open space in Upper Providence Township, and by privatizing it, forever made this gem of a property vulnerable to development. This page outlines the timeline of significant events surrounding the most controversial land sale in Montgomery County history, up to, and including, the proposed development plan presented on January 19, 2021.
Before the sale closed, members of the grassroots Parkhouse group held numerous protests around Montgomery County in an effort to influence the Commissioners and raise awareness about the unprecedented sale of open space. Our grassroots effort has been activated again due to the non-conforming plan presented in January 2021. Find out how you can join our effort to preserve what we can of this historic property.
Check out our video
1. Contact the Upper Providence Supervisors and tell them to DEFEND OUR ORDINANCE and to vote NO on the plan approval
2. TELL your friends about this issue
3. JOIN us on Facebook and Instagram
4. DONATE to our Go Fund Me to aid in our fight to save this land
Remember Parkhouse is not affiliated with
Save Parkhouse Farm.
Learn more about our upcoming events, fundraisers, and more!