A 211-home development called Fields at Indian Creek is being proposed by Kay Builders on a golf course in Emmaus, Upper Milford and Lower Macungie townships.
“This will be the most residential units approved in a single development in the history of Upper Milford Township,” said township manager Dan DeLong.
One hundred-and-fifty-five of the proposed homes will be in Upper Milford and 56 in Emmaus. A small portion of the 72-acre site containing no homes is in Lower Macungie.
Fields at Indian Creek will be an age-restricted condominium community of single-family homes for residents age 55 and older, with a homeowners association responsible for cutting grass, shoveling snow, plowing streets and more. Residents will own homes, but not their yards.
The development will include a community center, an outdoor swimming pool and private roads.
It will be built on Indian Creek Golf Course, along the Pennsylvania Turnpike just north of Chestnut Street in Emmaus. The plan is for part of the golf course to remain on the south and east sides of the development, but with only nine holes rather than 18.
No new public road is proposed to link Fields at Indian Creek to nearby Chestnut Street. Its residents will come and go via Indian Creek Road on the north side of the development.
The project faces several potentially “deal-breaking” hurdles -- ranging from traffic concerns to requirements for sidewalks and open space -- and is complicated by the fact that it needs local approval from three different municipalities.
On Monday night, Emmaus Borough Council will discuss a major zoning change needed before it can proceed.
“You typically only chase a deal if you’re 90 percent sure you can get it through,” said Rick Koze, president and owner of Kay Builders. “This one’s a little less. I don’t know what got into me. I threw caution to the wind. But I think it’s doable.”
Koze said he has emotional ties to the project because he was raised in Emmaus and is a 1982 graduate of Emmaus High School. Based in Lower Macungie, Kay Builders has done at least 30 developments since the company started in 1961.
The developer hopes to have all local and state approvals so he can break ground by the summer of 2014. He plans to build three or four model homes on the property before the end of next year. And he hopes to lock in at least 10 or 20 buyers even before he starts groundwork.
Single-family homes are proposed, although Koze said: “I’d love to do some twin homes.”
Many will be three-bedroom, ranch-style homes, but he expects nearly half the buyers will want Kay to build two-story homes so they have more living space. The homes will sell for around $290,000 and up, with two-story homes adding about $40,000 to that price. All the homes will have two-car garages.
Indian Creek traffic concerns
Fields at Indian Creek won’t be the first residential development creating additional traffic at the point where Indian Creek Road splits into a “Y” and climbs a hill to meet Cedar Crest Boulevard -- with no traffic lights and no turning lanes from Cedar Crest onto Indian Creek.
Kay Builders is not proposing making traffic improvements at that intersection near Fields at Indian Creek.
Koze said making such improvements “would kill the deal” because it would include demolishing a house, building a bridge and regrading a steep slope. “You’re talking three million bucks.”
Brian Miller, Upper Milford’s planning coordinator, said the township’s biggest concern about Fields at Indian Creek is traffic and traffic impacts. A big part of that concern is the intersection of Indian Creek Road and Cedar Crest – both state roads. Miller said it’s a bad spot on an already congested road.
“Our concern is the traffic safety issues,” said Sara Pandl, Lower Macungie’s director of planning and community development. “Where’s the traffic going and how can it be accommodated safely?”
She added: “We’re very concerned about traffic on Indian Creek Road. We want to discourage any traffic from coming out onto Cedar Crest. That’s a very difficult intersection. You would hope people will avoid it because of how difficult it is.”
Lights at Allen and Chestnut
Kay Builders plans to add traffic signals and turning lanes at the intersection of Allen and Chestnut streets in Upper Milford. Allen Street intersects Indian Creek Road just west of the turnpike. Miller said the developer will pay “a good portion” of the costs for those improvements.
Kay Builders recently submitted a traffic study to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which Koze said focuses on adding the lights at Allen and Chestnut.
Miller noted that section of Chestnut Street already is “fairly congested” and the township already gets complaints from residents about people speeding on Allen Street.