Emmaus Borough Council has begun paving the way for the creation of Fields at Indian Creek, an age 55-and-older community of 211 homes that will be located in the borough as well as in Upper Milford and Lower Macungie townships.
Council is moving toward creating an “age-qualified community overlay district,” which was initiated by Rick Koze of Kay Builders so he can build Fields at Indian Creek.
After nearly two hours of discussion Monday night, council voted to “adopt” on first reading the proposed overlay district zoning ordinance, which will require roads that are at least 26 feet wide with sidewalks on both sides of them in Fields at Indian Creek and any future development like it in Emmaus.
Council’s vote raises the possibility that Fields at Indian Creek could have sidewalks on both sides of its private roads in Emmaus, but no sidewalks on narrower roads in the rest of the development.
“This will be a little bit tricky for the developer because of the multiple municipalities involved,” said borough solicitor Thomas Dinkelacker. “But hopefully what happens is you’ll end up with one nice community that looks uniform throughout.”
After the vote, Koze said council’s actions will not stop him from proceeding with Fields at Indian Creek, although he said putting sidewalks on both sides of roads is ridiculous.
Koze said no similar developments in the area have sidewalks on both sides of the street. “It’s a waste of money and environmentally it doesn’t make sense.”
But Dinkelacker said most high-density developments like Koze is proposing have sidewalks and curbs.
Council’s vote actually only authorizes advertising the proposed ordinance, explained Dinkelacker. He said the proposed ordinance now will be shared with the Emmaus and Lehigh Valley planning commissions, as well as with the developer.
After those commissions review the ordinance for up to 45 days, a public hearing will be held.
Dinkelacker said if any changes are made to the ordinance as a result of that hearing, it has to go back to the LVPC and borough planning commission for another 45-day review.
He added if changes are substantial, the proposed ordinance must be re-advertised.
“You really don’t want to change it as a result of a hearing,” he said.
Borough manager Shane Pepe has said council could vote to adopt the ordinance by mid-July.
Even if Emmaus does adopt the overlay district this summer, land development plans for Fields at Indian Creek must be reviewed and approved by all three municipalities.
Koze hopes to have all local and state approvals so he can begin the development by the summer of 2014.
Most of the proposed 72-acre development is in Upper Milford., with just a sliver in Lower Macungie.
The development will be next to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, just north of the Chestnut Street entrance to Indian Creek Golf Course and the Farmhouse restaurant in Emmaus, although its residents will come and go via Indian Creek Road on the north side of the development.
Koze estimated 54 acres of the project will be in Upper Milford, which will have 155 homes; 15 acres in Emmaus, which will have 56 homes, and three acres containing no homes in Lower Macungie.
Despite the name of the proposed development, it is Leibert Creek that curves around part of the property.
Although the development will be built on Indian Creek Golf Course, Koze said at least nine holes of that golf course will remain.
Koze plans to build single family homes, although he may do some townhouses because the proposed Emmaus ordinance would allow them. Dinkelacker said it also would allow duplexes, twins and quadraplexes.
Council member Wesley Barrett abstained from voting on the proposed overlay district, explaining he feels voting for the amendment would be a potential conflict of interest because he owns a real estate office. He added he also has a potential financial contract, but did not elaborate.
What council approved
Koze wanted no sidewalks in Fields at Indian Creek, but was willing to put them on one side of the roads in the Emmaus portion of the development.