During the Northampton Borough Council meeting on Thursday, August 15, Bob Dwyer, of the Willow Brook Farms Fuller Family Preservation Trust, gave a presentation on the future development of the farm’s property.
In an effort to protect the farm and buffer it from nearby warehouse development, Dwyer and the Fuller family are proposing the development of single-family homes and apartments along Willowbrook and Howertown Roads.
Phase 1 of the project has already been approved and sold to a developer who will be constructing single-family homes, 11 of which are in Northampton. In the borough, one parcel of undeveloped land is left along Howertown Road.
Dwyer presented council-members with two options: one plan for a 55-and-over luxury apartment complex and another for 57 single-family homes. The apartment complex would require rezoning. The single-family homes are by-right, meaning that development can move forward as long as requirements are met.
Dwyer wanted to get council’s opinion on the apartment plan, which he said would be better for the borough. Rent would be between $1,100 and $1,200, bringing in higher incomes and more school taxes, with no students added to the school and less traffic. The property would also have six acres of open space and a residents-only rec center.
The single-family homes would be built on small-sized lots, Dwyer said. Lots would not be more than 5,000 square feet.
He said it is important that something marketable be done to this property, otherwise the Fuller family may have no choice other than to sell it to a developer who may one day build another warehouse. The Fuller Trust is currently using funds in a lawsuit against Allen Township for rezoning.
Some residents in attendance said Dwyer’s words were a “scare tactic.”
Council-members were in agreement and vocalized their objections to the age-qualified apartments.
“I am totally against rezoning,” said Councilwoman Judy Kutzler.
Councilman Ed Pany said that “homeowners would be more responsible” and added that the borough should be encouraging home ownership.
Meanwhile, Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski, Sr. called renters “transients” and said that apartments are an “egg box,” with some “good eggs” but also some “polluted” eggs.
Councilman Keith Piescienski said there have been cases of age-qualified apartments turning into “HUD Housing.”
Although Solicitor Steven Goudsouzian said council may want to go away, think about the plan, and regroup, council decided to conduct a straw poll. All council-members were against the apartment plan.
Dwyer acknowledged their concerns and said their opinions will stop the plan from moving forward. He would not want to waste funds on a plan no one wants, he said.
“We do not want to force it down someone’s throat,” he said. “We are not looking to disrupt the neighbors.”
There were several residents in attendance who were in support of the age-qualified apartments. Following the meeting, they said the problems council-members attributed to apartments − tall grass, weeds, garbage, etc. – can be found amongst single-family homes too.
One resident said the supervisors were “close-minded” in their remarks and in calling renters “transients.”
For Dwyer, plans to preserve Willow Brook Farms and the land around it will continue. He will be moving forward with the by-right plan.
“The Fuller family is not looking to harm the neighbors,” he stressed.