Birmingham Township supervisors set Monday, April 24, as the next hearing date for the proposed Historic Preservation and Setback Ordinance. That session will begin at 7:30 p.m.

A new group has formed to have supervisors amend the ordinance, calling the plan "a wolf in sheep's clothing" -- that according to a new Web site,

William Snook, a resident of Heartsease Lane, founded the group and launched the Web site Jan. 18. While only Snook and one other neighbor are currently members, he said he's received at least 15 e-mails from other neighbors in the first few days expressing their desire to join.

The goal of the group, according to Snook, is to have supervisors modify the proposed plan so that Wylie road is given the same consideration as Meetinghouse, Birmingham and Country Club roads.

Under the proposal, those three streets would have setbacks of 750 feet. No new buildings would be permitted within that buffer zone. For Wylie Road, however, the setback is 200 feet.

"We're being segregated from protections afforded other residents of the township," Snook said.

He said he doesn't understand why Wylie Road is being given "short shrift," and wonders if the difference was an oversight or an indicator of some grander plan.

He does not oppose a property owner's right to develop land. His only issue, he said, is that Wylie Road was omitted from the 750-foot buffer. He said Wylie should have the same buffer as the other three streets, whatever that buffer might be.

The first thing he is doing, said Snook, is to communicate his concerns to the supervisors and hope they modify the ordinance.

"If that's not addressed, we'll need to look at other avenues."

Snook did not elaborate on what those other avenues might be, saying instead he would make those considerations only if needed.

Previously, resident Peter Shea said that by changing the setbacks, development of one property known as the O'Dell tract would be forced closer to Wylie Road.

Opposition to the proposed plan also comes from residents who say the ordinance will restrict their ability to develop their properties.

Attorney George Elser, representing Roberta O'Dell who owns the previously mentioned 113-acre property surrounded by Meetinghouse, Birmingham and Wylie roads, said during a hearing in December, that the amendment would restrict property use "far beyond that which is appropriate."

Another attorney, John Jeros representing Jane Sullivan, the owner of another 113-acre tract along Birmingham and Country Club roads, presented a witness in December who said the new ordinance would be highly restrictive.

Engineer Dennis Howell said 76.2 acres could be developed under the existing ordinance but that would drop to only 24.2 acres under the new plan.

According to the ordinance, the proposed law is to preserve and protect historic resources and to create a new Historical Commission.

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