Toll Brothers’ 42-house development plan sparks concern in East Marlborough

East Marlborough >> Some of the more complicated and contentious questions about a proposed Toll Brothers development in East Marlborough Township seem to be moving toward a resolution.

The township supervisors’ June meeting ran until 11:30 p.m. in large part because of lengthy discussions of some of those issues. Their July meeting Monday night ran quite a bit shorter, but still included a good bit of back and forth about the proposal’s traffic generation and landscaping to screen it from its neighbors.

The proposed development would build 42 houses in cluster style on the western part of a 62-acre tract that lies across Route 82 just south of Route 926. The eastern portion would be left as open space.

But questions about the extra traffic the development would produce and the safety aspects of vehicular and pedestrian travel there seem to be coming to a resolution.

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Representatives of Toll Brothers said they were seeking guidance on the pedestrian crossing and landscaping issues in the hopes of getting a preliminary approval for the project. Toll Brothers Division President Andrew Semon said they hoped to reach an agreement about landscaping screening and whether the entrance and pedestrian crossing should include a left-turn lane.

It quickly became evident that the township supervisors and developers were generally in agreement about not having a left-turn lane at the entrance. The supervisors said keeping the traffic lanes narrow there made sense for them as part of an overall effort to slow traffic to safe speeds in the township.

The developers had said in previous meetings that there were enough breaks in the southbound traffic to permit people turning left to enter the development without stopped vehicles stacking up.

Township Engineer Jim Hatfield agreed that a left-turn lane did not seem necessary, and keeping the lanes narrow would slow traffic. He suggested that an island in the roadway for pedestrians to stop and wait for a break in the traffic should be eight feet wide, not six feet as the developers had proposed.

There also seemed to be a consensus between the developers and supervisors that it would help to manage traffic flow without a left-turn lane if the development contained an internal connection to provide access to Chalfont Road.

When the development was first proposed, residents of the area to the south had balked at providing that access, not wanting more traffic past their homes, and suggested limiting it to emergency vehicles.

But the developers said without a left-turn lane, full-time access was needed to meet PennDOT guidelines on the overall traffic plan.

Semon and some of the township officials spent a bit of time arm-wrestling over landscaping after Cuyler Walker, chair of the planning commission, asked for more screening between the development and a neighbor to the south whose home was close to it.

The landscaping met the zoning requirements, Semon said, and he urged the supervisors to look at the big picture and move the project forward. But after a few minutes of discussion he agreed to provide some more shrubbery at the spot and said he would be willing to adjust the plan to place the landscaping in the most effective location.

In the end, the supervisors voted to grant preliminary plan approval to the project with the various features in place they had discussed.

In the course of updating a resolution listing the stop signs in the township, the supervisors were questioned by resident David Adamson and his attorney about the supervisors’ decision to approve a three-way stop sign as a way to solve sight-distance problems with the entrance to Longwood Preserve, a townhome development off Schoolhouse Road.

Adamson had offered to sell easements to his property that would allow the developers to move the entrance to a site with better sight distances.