A developer trying to build a Town Center in New Hanover Township is asking a judge to appoint a special master to handle nine pending court cases.
On September 20, Common Pleas Judge Wendy G. Rothstein declared a New Hanover Township zoning ordinance amendment invalid. It had attempted to delete the uses which the Town Center developer had included in its long-standing plans.
“The appointment of a special master has become necessary in this case due to repeated efforts by the township to delay development applications,” said Marc Jonas, attorney for developer RP Wynstone, who is representing the development team in multiple disputes with the New Hanover Township. “We have submitted eight sets of plans since 2005 for the New Hanover Town Center mixed-use development. All submissions were processed and reviewed by the township – all in compliance with the township’s ordinances.”
The township has rejected repeated efforts by the developer to resolve issues relating to the Town Center development, he said.
“Due to the failure of the township to fulfill its good faith obligations in considering land use applications, there are numerous pending actions filed against New Hanover,” said Jonas. “Judges should be equipped with the necessary resources to view the full picture of the conflicts in question. A court-appointed special master is one such resource.”
Neither New Hanover Township Manager Jamie Gwynn nor township solicitor Andrew Bellwoar responded to the Delaware Valley Journal’s requests for comment.
The 209-acre walkable village would “generate $3.4 million annually in new tax revenues for the Boyertown Area School District and create more than 550 new local jobs,” according to information from the developer. The proposed Town Center, a mix of 600 residential homes and commercial units, would include 68 acres of open space with a commercial core component with 315,300-square-feet of dining, retail and grocery stores. It would also include a playground, bike trail, and community pavilion.
The most recent preliminary plan approval for the New Hanover Town Center was submitted Dec. 18, 2019. As the township’s professional consultants communicated and reviewed revisions to the plans, the township amended its zoning ordinance, directly and adversely affecting RP Wynstone’s ability to develop its property, according to Jonas.
“The main issue is the township’s lack of good faith in its consideration of our applications,” Jonas said in response to questions from DVJournal. “The township refuses to engage in what appellate courts have described as the ordinary ‘give and take’ in the application review process. The board of supervisors instead opted to pursue its anti-development agenda, violating the developer’s rights of procedural and substantive due process, spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.”
“The concern for any New Hanover Township resident taxpayer should be the burden that they will bear for the township’s ongoing legal costs in these matters,” Jonas said. “The township has refused to disclose public records related to legal costs, but it is currently estimated to total hundreds of thousands of dollars.”