Before a development firm can start to build in a Pennsylvania city or town, the city must first give its approval and ensure that the proposed development will be consistent with the zoning laws and city plan. Unfortunately, these approvals often take time and considerable discussion. The members of the Legal Affairs Committee’s board of commissioners chose to table the rezoning of the proposed O’Neill riverfront property at a recent meeting.

The property in question is located in Lower Merion Township and holds almost 14 acres. It was once a historic site of the Pencoyd Iron Works and the manufacturing site of Connelly Container/Georgia Pacific. O’Neill Properties is hoping to develop the Schuylkill River site into an apartment complex, including a number of five-story buildings. Negotiations have been taking place for about 18 months, and agreements including the construction of a new walkway trail have been concluded.

O’Neill Property’s attorney encouraged the board to approve the agreement because the space would be used to create an attractive area along the riverfront that will have tax benefits for the city and for Penn Real Estate, a neighboring landowner.

If the settlement is approved, it is not just the developer that will have to change some of its plans. The city would also need to change some of the building facility and parking permits due to the property’s location on a floodplain. Parking would decrease to 1.35 spaces per apartment unit, down from 1.5 spaces. The space would decrease to 1.27 if spaces were reserved.

While the board was previously given the developer’s proposed agreement, the board president and other members of the board still claimed to have multiple questions regarding the proposal. Many of the board members insisted on needing more time to review the document before making a decision.

Source: Main Line Times, “Vote on O’Neill river settlement tables in Lower Merion,” Cheryl Allison, Dec. 15, 2011