Lower Saucon Township Council members were generally warm toward a proposal that was discussed Monday to build approximately 120 townhomes in three clusters at Silver Creek Country Club (SCCC), even though their construction would require a zoning variance.
Council members unanimously approved a motion to have representatives for the developer, Lower Saucon resident David Spirk, meet with township staff in order to proceed with work on the plan.
Spirk, who is chairman of the township’s Parks & Recreation Board and a SCCC member, spoke briefly at the meeting, which was also attended by senior club officials.
Spirk explained that the idea for the condominium development arose out of conversations that began with the club’s leadership several years ago, about how to help it remain “viable.”
The plan that was ultimately developed for attracting more members includes the construction of a high-end condominium community called Silver Creek Country Club Living; a community that would be restricted to club members only.
Spirk’s engineer, Scott Mease, of Mease Engineering, P.C., outlined the plan for council.
The three townhome clusters would be called Ross’ Hill, Fairway Woods and The Turn, and would include two to four units per building, with 34 to 48 units per cluster.
According to information and maps presented to council–as well as a brochure that was distributed at the meeting–Ross’ Hill would include 34 units built in the northwest corner of the club’s property, with access from New Jersey Avenue and Apple Street.
Ross’ Hill would be built on the site of the club’s old tennis courts, and would be located behind the Silver Creek clubhouse, affording its residents “the closest proximity…to the clubhouse and all its amenities,” the brochure noted.
The 48-unit Fairway Woods cluster would be constructed north of Wassergass Road, and The Turn would be built along the club’s southern border with Panther Way, adjacent to the Saucon Valley School District campus.
All of the townhomes would have public water and sewer which would likely be provided by the Hellertown Borough Authority, since the Lower Saucon Authority has a limited capacity in that part of the township.
Councilwoman Priscilla deLeon noted that that is partly by design.
“The reason we don’t have public utilities out on the eastern side of the township is because we want to keep it rural,” she said, noting that when public water and sewer lines are extended, typically “(building) densities go up.”
On the other hand, deLeon noted that Silver Creek Country Club is “a great place.”
“I understand your plight,” she told representatives from the club, adding that she still has “a lot of questions.”
Council vice president Tom Maxfield credited the plan that was presented for its “holistic” development approach, which he called “the way to go.”
One concern that he said he hopes can be addressed has to do with runoff from the Silver Creek, which flows through the club property and has inundated downstream portions of Hellertown from time to time.
If anything can be done in conjunction with the construction of the townhomes “to lessen the possibility of flooding…I think it will be greatly appreciated,” Maxfield said.
Council members also discussed the fact that the townhomes would be built with deed restrictions in place; restrictions that would place limits on home design, home ownership and use of the homes. A conservation easement could also potentially mandate that the club property remain open space, regardless of whether it is sold in the future.
“What we’re trying to do is create this unified product, which we think will be beneficial–certainly to the club–and hopefully to the township,” said Spirk’s attorney, Jim Preston. “There will be mechanisms in place to assure that what is promised will be delivered.”
Although many Saucon Source readers shared concerns on Facebook after a story about the townhome development proposal was posted several days prior to Monday’s meeting, no residents spoke out against or in favor of the plan at the meeting.
While Spirk noted that the project itself is in a “very, very preliminary stage,” he confirmed for council that the development plan has already been voted upon and approved by what he called a “significant” majority of the club’s membership.
Silver Creek Country Club first opened in 1948 as the Bethlehem Steel Club–a 9-hole golf course that was built by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation to provide recreational opportunities for its managers.
In the late 1950s the club was expanded to include an 18-hole golf course designed by noted course architect Donald Ross, according to the brochure.
It was rechristened as Silver Creek Country Club in 1986, when it became a private, nonprofit corporation under the management of its members.
Today the club occupies approximately 280 acres along the border between the borough of Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township. All but 50 acres and all of the club’s buildings are located in the township.
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