Borough Residents Ask Questions About Townhome Development Proposal

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Credit: Josh Popichak

Engineer Scott Mease addresses Hellertown Borough Council on Oct. 19 regarding a proposal to build more than 100 townhouses at Silver Creek Country Club.

Several Hellertown residents who live near the location where a proposed townhome cluster could be built at Silver Creek Country Club asked questions following a presentation by a local developer at borough council’s Oct. 19 meeting.

An aerial view of the proposed Silver Creek Country Club Living development in Lower Saucon Township.

Credit: Mease Engineering/Lower Saucon Township

An aerial view of the proposed Silver Creek Country Club Living development in Lower Saucon Township and Hellertown.

David Spirk, of Lower Saucon Township, has partnered with the 67-year-old club’s board of directors on the proposal to build townhouses in three clusters spread from north to south across the 280-acre property, which is mostly located in the township.

The northernmost and smallest cluster or “pod” would be built near New Jersey Avenue and Apple Street; the middle cluster would be built off Durham Street/Wassergass Road; and the southern cluster would be built off Panther Way.

Spirk and his representatives–including attorney Jim Preston–told council the development will help revitalize the club by infusing its dwindling membership rolls and simultaneously bolstering its finances.

Engineer Scott Mease addresses Hellertown Borough Council on Oct. 19 regarding a proposal to build more than 100 townhouses at Silver Creek Country Club.

Credit: Josh Popichak

Engineer Scott Mease addresses Hellertown Borough Council on Oct. 19 regarding a proposal to build more than 100 townhouses at Silver Creek Country Club.

The proposal calls for the construction of 124 units, which would be targeted toward an upmarket retiree and empty-nester demographic.

“This demographic tends to spend more time in the restaurants than young families do,” Spirk told council. He said they also tend to shop closer to home, meaning there could be economic benefits for Hellertown businesses from the development.

The custom-built, 50-foot-wide townhomes will have a variety of amenities–including two-car and golf cart garages–and will cost from $350,000 to $500,000.

Spirk said about 30 units have been pre-sold to single occupants or couples, although a township zoning amendment is still required for the project to move forward.

Without a zoning change to allow for limited higher-density construction on the country club property, he said the golf course could theoretically be sold and single family homes built on one-acre lots there.

“We don’t see any significant zoning impediments; infrastructure impediments,” Preston said of the plan, which was first introduced in January. “We really don’t see many impediments beyond getting the approval of the various governing bodies.”

The purchasers of the townhomes will be required to join the club, which will result not only in an economic benefit for SCCC, but also a commitment by those members to the club’s long-term viability, Preston said.

What might become of the remaining open space if the townhomes are ultimately built and the club is later sold was a question several meeting attendees asked.

Although a conservation easement put into place as part of a rezoning agreement could help preserve the remainder of the property’s open space as long as Silver Creek Country Club continues to operate, whether that easement would still apply after a hypothetical future sale of the club was unclear.

“I agree that we don’t have a lot of security,” Spirk said in response to a question from borough resident Kate Griffiths. But the development plan he has formulated “gives the club the best chance of surviving.”

Water and sewer connections will be provided by the Hellertown Borough Authority, and the plan also calls for walking trails that could connect with pedestrian access points along the borough’s western border.

Council members expressed concerns about traffic that could be generated by the development, as well as a proposed emergency access road that would intersect with New Jersey Avenue.

Spirk said he plans to have a traffic study conducted, and would actually prefer not to build the access road to New Jersey Avenue.

Councilman John Bate said the road would serve no purpose, because in the event of an emergency, it would put equipment “in the wrong area.”

Another Hellertown resident, Earl Hill, expressed a concern about the excess stormwater the development could produce in Hellertown, which he said “is all downhill” from the country club.

“Maybe there’s some way to put some (insurance) riders in (an agreement) that we don’t get flooded out,” he suggested.

Hill also questioned how the new homes could affect New Jersey Avenue, which he pointed out “is a small road.”

“We don’t need the traffic on that road,” he said.

Out of the 124 homes proposed, only four would be located entirely within borough limits, Preston told council. Four more homes would straddle the borough-township line equally, and a few others would overlap slightly into borough limits.

Council did not take any official action on the proposal, which it has said before it wants to be kept apprised of.

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