Late on January 15, 2021, the agenda for the January 19, 2021, Board of Supervisors meeting was unceremoniously published to the Township’s website. On that agenda was the proposed sketch plan (see reverse) for the Parkhouse property. This was the only notice the public received. The meeting was held entirely via Zoom and no residents were permitted to attend the meeting in person. In spite of the lack of notification and the short period of time, 110 people showed up for the Zoom call. Chairman Bill Starling cut off comments prematurely, denying several residents the opportunity to speak.
In addition to various redundant amenities already available in the immediate area (farmers’ market, horse boarding, animal petting area), the presentation purposely omitted the inclusion of at least 500 to 600 apartments and 150 homes.
The Township’s Comprehensive plan was developed assuming this tract of land would stay open space forever. The Parkhouse development, if permitted to proceed, will impact all Township services and infrastructure in unforeseen ways. It will place an unplanned-for burden on our Schools, our Police and Emergency Services, our roads, and our sewers. It will impact our taxes, our home values, our wildlife, and our quality of life.
The ONLY way this plan can proceed is with a zoning change.
And ONLY the Upper Providence Township Board of Supervisors can change the zoning.
If a majority of the Board of Supervisors were not in favor of this development plan, the proposal would never have been presented at a public meeting.
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Developer Dr. Rifkin’s presentation of “The Villages at Royersford” focused almost exclusively on the amenities he was proposing for this development.
The “Parkhouse Farmstead” would include a barn with petting area, a community garden area, and 15 acres of farm fields.
The “Village Community Center” would include a community recreation building community offices, a daycare center with outdoor recreation space, and an indoor/outdoor theater.
The “Farmers Market” would have an indoor market are with barn and on street parking.
The “Equestrian Center” would include stables, tack room and manager residence, a paddock, and pasture land.
The “Parkhouse Inn” would be either an 80-bed inn or 80 bed assisted living facility.
The “Crossroads Village Center” would have ground floor shops, offices, and a club amenity area.
The sales pitch included a reference to Colonial Williamsburg, which inspired the design of the “Crossroads Village Center” and where Rifkin had spent his honeymoon decades before. It also referenced an “internationally recognized” development in Georgia, also based on the farm, and which Rifkin clearly aspired to duplicate. Rifkin closed his presentation by saying he was not a developer by trade and this was the first and the only development he’d ever undertake.
Notably, throughout the presentation, there was no mention of the most important thing: the number of housing units being proposed. That was a question that had to be asked of the developers.
This plan proposes 500 to 600 apartments and an additional 150 twin and single family housing units.
It's a far cry from the CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) Rifkin had talked about when the property was first sold to him.
The reason the density was omitted in this presentation is because Rifkin did not want to show it to the public.
And neither did at least two members of the Board of Supervisors, Helene Calci and Laurie Higgins, since they blessed this plan as acceptable to be presented to the public.