The Upper Gwynedd Republican Committee is dedicated to promoting and supporting grassroots organizations operating in Upper Gwynedd Township.
UPPER GWYNEDD TOWNSHIP REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE (UGTRC)
Republican Committee Exposes Township Commissioner’s Predisposition to Subsidized Housing
August 22, 2022
After months of stonewalling by the Upper Gwynedd Board of Commissioners, the Upper Gwynedd Township Republican Committee has exposed the truth regarding the Commissioners interest and intentions regarding the introduction of High Density/Government Subsidized Housing in the Township.
For several months’ representatives of the Upper Gwynedd Republican Township Republican Committee along with concerned non-Committee residents have been questioning the Commissioners about a proposal made by a for profit developer, The Walters Group. The Walter’s Group is proposing to build 44 apartment style dwelling units on Pennbrook Parkway off Church Road. The Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Development recently awarded two grant subsidies totaling approximately $1.3 million to the Walter’s Group to assist with this project.
The Commissioners have refused to answer questions regarding the proposal stating that it was premature for them to comment as “no formal application was before the Township”. While it is true there is currently no formal Application before the Township for Land Development review, there is a written request before the Township to formally consider the approval of an amendment to the Township’s Zoning Code. A draft amendment and concept plan was written and submitted by the developer, The Walters Group, approximately 12 months ago. If approved by the Township Commissioners, this amendment would add high density residential development to the allowable uses within the Light Industrial (LI) zoning district.
Information recently received from the Township via a freedom of information act, aka RIGHT to KNOW (RTK) REQUEST filed by the UGTRC reveals that the Township received a letter dated March 2, 2022 from the attorney representing The Walters Group. This letter requested that the Walters’ proposal for a text amendment to the Township’s Light Industrial (LI) zoning district be formally reviewed by the Township. The letter confirmed that appropriate review fees have been paid by the applicant. The Zoning Code as currently written does not permit any residential uses in the LI zone. The Walters Group proposal cannot move forward unless the current Zoning Code is amended by the Commissioners.
The Commissioners want to us accept that the proposed amendment will only apply to the 4.0+ acre tract off Pennbrook Parkway that is currently under consideration. This amendment would be a clear example of illegal SPOT ZONING. The truth is the amendment as proposed by the Walters Group would apply to any (LI) zoned property within a .5-mile radius of the SEPTA Pennbrook train station. This amendment, if approved, would apply to a very large area in the Township that is currently zoned (LI). Further, a careful reading of the Walters Group’s proposed Text Amendment reveals that the amendment, if approved, could also apply to a .5-mile radius currently zoned (LI) around the North Wales SEPTA Station. This proposal over time could completely transform the Township we know and love into a community we would not recognize. The (LI) zoned area abutting Church Rd. and Beaver St. could be completely transformed into an unrecognizable urbanized area.
At a recent Township Commissioners Meeting UGTRC representatives asked if the Township possessed any United States Census Tract data that supported the need for affordable or governmentally subsidized housing in the Township. The question was asked in order to gain an understanding of who currently living in Upper Gwynedd Township would benefit from this proposed action. The answer given by the Township Manager, Sandra Zadell, was that she did not know if such data existed. This answer prompted the UGTRC to file an additional RIGHT-TO-KNOW request. This information request was for:
“a copy of any and all demographic statistics specific to Upper Gwynedd Township that justifies the need for high density, income restrictive, affordable or subsidized housing in Upper Gwynedd Township.”
The response from the Township to the UGTRC was:
“Your request is denied as no documents exist as described.”
Therefore, it is fair to conclude that the Township is considering a proposal to increase the future density of the Township with subsidized housing that benefits no one currently living in the Township.
The Commissioners have even gone so far as to ignore the opinion of the Township residents who responded to the Township’s own 2040 Comprehensive Plan surveys. These survey results revealed that 97% of all survey respondents believe that the current mix of housing types as permitted by the CURRENT ZONING CODE is a factor that makes Upper Gwynedd an “excellent to good place to live”, (see page 32 of the Township’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan). It is important for everyone to know the current Board of Commissioners inherited the current Zoning Code from the previous well experienced Republican Township Commissioners. The current inexperienced Board of Commissioners have even admitted that they have NOT conducted any studies that would measure the impact that this Zoning Code Text Amendment could have on traffic in our community. The UGTRC believes this to be an alarming reflection of inexperience. The voters of Upper Gwynedd need to know that none of the current Township Commissioners ever served or volunteered to serve on any of the Township’s land use related Boards ie, Zoning Hearing Board or Planning Commission, before being elected to the position of Commissioner.
One has to wonder why an elected Board governing a Township that is now approximately 95% built out (developed) would even consider amending the Township’s Zoning Code with the intent to attract and allow the introduction of High Density / Subsidized housing to a potentially very large section of the heart of the Township. One must also wonder why the elected Board of Commissioners would place the interest of individuals who do NOT currently live nor have any vested interest in Upper Gwynedd ahead of all of us who have lived and paid taxes in our community for years.
We believe that Upper Gwynedd is a very special community and should not be unnecessarily and permanently changed to conform to a political agenda to transform the suburbs. Given the lack of any substantiating statistics we ask this simple question; who currently living in Upper Gwynedd does this proposal portend to benefit? The Township Commissioners have been advised not to answer this question. They have in fact been advised NOT to answer any questions publicly.
The answer lies in the UGTRC’s belief that the Upper Gwynedd Township Commissioners have politicized the management and future of the Township. They have held a predisposition to this initiative in order to satisfy a National Democrat Agenda. This agenda is based on a desire by County and National Democratic leadership to urbanize our suburban communities. The Commissioners appear to be taking their direction from above. This direction is perhaps coming from the County of Montgomery or from the County Democratic Committee. Upper Gwynedd is NOT alone. Concerned groups have been tracking this identical politically driven initiative in other communities throughout Montgomery County. This initiative threatens what has always been a Township where property values have always been strong. Strong property values, while more than satisfying any required legal mandate to provide a wide mix of housing types is one of the hallmarks of Upper Gwynedd Township. The Township more than satisfied these mandates decades ago. Previous Commissioners did so in a socially welcoming, sound and apolitical manner that encouraged sensible growth while promoting property values within ALL residential classes.
What ever happened to the simple concept that local government is and always should be about doing the right thing for the current residents and voters of the Township without political agendas. To date, no one from the Township has been able to explain how this initiative benefits anyone currently living, paying taxes or voting in Upper Gwynedd.
The Upper Gwynedd Township Republican Committee urges everyone in the Township to pay attention to what the Commissioners are doing with respects to this and many other issues. We urge everyone to attend upcoming Township Planning Commission and Township Board of Commissioner’s meetings to express your opposition to this initiative. Large, vocal, and informed opinions matter. The Township Commissioners hold public meetings the second Monday of every month as well as the third Tuesday of every month starting at 7pm at Parkside Place. Residents are urged to come to these meetings and listen for themselves how the commissioners want to radically change our beloved township.
On Tuesday night, July 19, members of the UGT Republican Committee (UGTRC) Oversight Committee appeared before the Township Commissioners to voice their concerns about the consideration of adding high density income restricted housing into the Twp’s (LI) Light Industrial Zoning District.
UGTRC Committee members Linda Smith, Carl Smith , Tom Borneman and others voiced their concerns and posed the following questions.
- Why, when the Township’s very own newly adopted 2040 Comprehensive Plan conflicts with this initiative would the Commissioners give this proposal much consideration in the first place. The new Comp. Plan confirms that 97 percent of survey respondents believe that the Twp’s current housing mix is a factor in what makes UGT an EXCELLENT to GOOD place to live. This initiative seems to be in direct conflict with the Township’s own Comprehensive Plan.
- Linda Smith asked if the Board was considering this Zoning Amendment as a result of a filed Curative Amendment. The Township’s Solicitor confirmed that a curative amendment application had not been filed by the applicant, the Walter’s group.. A Curative Amendment proposal attempts to “cure” or remedy a deficiency in the Township’s Zoning Code. A deficiency related to housing types simply does NOT exist in the Twp’s current Zoning Code. This fact is supported by the wide variety of housing types anyone with a clear vision can see and is statistically proven in the Township’s own new COMP PLAN (see page 32 of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan)
- It seems that the Board of Commissions had a preconceived agenda to find ways of adding population and urbanized density to our Twp. This is reflected in their defiance of the opinions expressed by residents when they participated in the surveys that were a part of the public participation phase of the new COMP PLAN’s development . UGTRC President, Tom Borneman asked if this initiative was part of a National Democratic agenda to transform the suburbs. Mr. Borneman held in his hands a letter issued by the White House which espoused the virtues of high density, affordable housing and suggested that Federal Grants for miscellaneous municipal projects would be made available to municipalities that promoted this cause. No response was offered by the Commissioners.
- Committee members asked when this proposal was going before the Township’s Planning Commission for public review. No specific date was given by the Commissions or Twp. Staff.
- Carl Smith asked if a DRAFT ORDINANCE AMENDMENT had been filed by the developer (the Walter’s group) for the Township’s Consideration. The Solicitor confirmed that a DRAFT document had in fact been submitted. The UGT RC will be filing a Right to Know Request) asking for a copy of that Draft amendment.
From the UGT Supervisor
|June 22, 2022 Still Time To Join In Unplugged Week The Township’s “Unplugged Week” concludes on Saturday with “Arts in the Park” at Parkside Place. An ice cream truck will make a special visit from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. |
Come out to conclude a week of no phones, no TV and no video games. It is the perfect way to kickoff the summer with family.
Click here for the Unplugged Week schedule of events In This IssueUnplugged WeekTree PlantingHuman Relations CommissionSoul On ScreenParks & Rec ActivitiesTax BillsKorean Culture DayMeeting CalendarEAC Members Plant Trees Along WissahickonMembers of the Environmental Advisory Council and other residents recently planted native trees in the riparian buffer of Wissahickon Creek fronting the Upper Gwynedd Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Enhancing riparian buffers helps to prevent or slow streambank erosion which is a significant source of water quality degradation. Erosion also leads to upland property loss, which in this case leaves the treatment plant vulnerable to floodwaters. Riparian buffers also improve water clarity and quality, and enhance wildlife habitat. Human Relations Commission Available In Housing Discrimination Situations The Human Relations Commission of Upper Gwynedd Township is available to provide information and mediation for anyone in a protected class who believes they have faced discrimination in their efforts to obtain or maintain housing. The federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the federal Fair Housing Act Amendments Act of 1988 prohibit discrimination on the basis of the following criteria: race or color; religion; national origin; familial status or age— and includes families with children under the age of 18 and pregnant women; disability or handicap, or gender. The federal Fair Housing Acts apply to all aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship. A landlord may not
advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, religion, or any other protected categoryfalsely deny that a rental unit is availableset more restrictive standards for selecting tenants or refuse to rent to members of certain groupsbefore or during the tenancy, set different terms, conditions, or privileges for rental of a dwelling unit, such as requiring larger deposits of some tenants or adopting an inconsistent policy of responding to late rent paymentsterminate a tenancy for a discriminatory reason.
Meetings of the Human Relations Commission are open to the public, and announced in the Gazette and on the Township website.”Soul” On Screen June 24 At Parkside PlaceThe Disney movie “Soul” will be on screen this Friday at the Debarth Amphitheater at Parkside Place. Here are the remaining movies and concerts for the summer.
June 29 – The Southern Edge BandJuly 13 – Philly Funk AuthorityJuly 27 – Lolly and YoYoAugust 10 – Greaseband
Concerts are at the Debarth Amphitheater at Parkside Place beginning at 7 p.m.
June 24 – SoulJuly 8 – Sing 2 July 22 – MinionAugust 5 – Encanto
Movies are at the Debarth Amphitheater at Parkside Place beginning at dusk, approximately 8:30 p.m.-8:45 p.m.Take A Look At These Parks And Recreation ActivitiesCheck out these upcoming activities from the Parks and Recreation Department.
Make Your Own Bug Spray and Body Scrub Workshop: July 22, 6 p.m.-7 p.m.
Did you know that many beauty and body products have a list of ingredients that are harmful to your health? Want to learn how to make your own hand, face and body scrub? It will scrub away the dead skin cells and moisture the skin plus smell amazing with pure therapeutic grade essential oils. With summertime means more bugs that bite. How about making your own bug spray to keep them away? Join Nicole Schillinger dietitian and certified aromatherapist for this hands-on workshop where you will leave with your own products. Click here to register.
Kids Yoga In The Park: Today to July 20, 8 a.m.-8:45 a.m.
In this summer yoga series our instructor, Courtney, will teach children breath work, yoga postures and the importance of mindfulness, all while moving, playing and having fun! Click here to register North Penn School District Tax Bills Mailed July 1 Real estate tax bills for the North Penn School District will be mailed July 1.
The discount period for taxes is July 1 to August 31. The face payment period is September 1 to October 31. A 5 percent penalty is assessed after October 31.
Click here for more information from the Upper Gwynedd tax collector Korean Culture Day This Saturday At North Wales Library Upper Gwynedd Meeting CalendarTownship meetings are open to the public.
Meeting Agendas (posted when available)
June 28: Zoning Hearing Board, 7 p.m. Upper Gwynedd Township1 Parkside Place, North Wales, PA 19454Ph: (215) 699-7777 Fax: (215) 699-8846
Senator Casey: Take Heed! “The late columnist Molly Ivins once quipped about the inhabitants of “the world’s greatest deliberative body” that “‘Get along, go along’ is not an inspirational philosophy, and only God knows how much moral cowardice it has covered up over the years. Serve your time, collect your chits, and cash ’em in for your home state? No, I’d say we could ask for more than that from our senators.” Stop enriching yourself and your family, stop pedaling your influence.
Democracy Dies In Darkness
Commissioners reveal their goals are not townships goals
“What’s important to point out with these is that they’re not township goals; they’re our goals as a board,” said commissioner Liz McNaney.”
“These are things that we, as a board, decided we want to focus on. It’s not something, necessarily, that everybody’s going to be in agreement with out there. It’s what we think is important,” she said. Resident Tom Borneman questioned the April 6 goals meeting during the public comment portion of the April 19 meeting, asking why it was not streamed online and why it was held during the afternoon instead of the usual evening hours. McNaney said the afternoon time “was done that way because we all have crazy schedules, and 2 p.m. seemed to work.” Hull and Zadell said the meeting was not streamed or broadcast due to additional costs, and limited availability, of the outside firm the board uses to do so.” Or are controversial topics discussed without community input? So much for transparency!
What a terrible job! Time for a change in Washington. Vote for Christian Nascimento https://www.cn4pa.com
North Penn School District is the hub of our surrounding communities, so when a leadership position is open in the district, it is vital that candidates are the right fit for our district, our community. Recent performance of both the board and administration raises questions about the efficacy of past selection processes.
Selecting a superintendent is critically important to the economic and social welfare of our community generally and our students specifically. The cognitive and behavioral performance of the professional staff over the past few years has diminished trust in the board and tarnishes the district. Institutional incompetence can not be tolerated. Our board needs to restore that trust and focus on the priorities of our entire community, not just the vested interest of the professional associations or the vocal minority. The executive search process is an opportunity for the board to do a course correction and reverse its relationship with the people; the board and the professional staff serve the community, the community does not serve the board.
We are not an urban community and don’t have the intractable problems intrinsic to an urban district. We are not a poor rural community without resources. Our children should be better served. Stripped of the emotive, the data clearly shows diminished academic performance. We educate our children to give them the skills needed to contribute to and prosper in society.
Just as the false narratives surrounding COVID kept our children out of in-person education and masked for much too long, the false narrative of systemic racism in our schools and our community has caused our students’ academic scores to fall because of a lack of emphasis on academics and an over emphasis on social issues. Our children deserve a fair and just educational environment not a trendy, woke experience. Partnered with the community, the new Superintendent can lead our educational administrators to return to meeting the affective and intellectual needs of all our children.
We are the type of community every educational administrator wants to serve. We should seek an experienced Superintendent with a proven record who understands the type of communities comprising NPSD. To participate in the survey go to: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdOZrz2EgaR_NVydBle_qZbId_frMBFffmqfyKhqJcMBXOexg/viewform?pli=1&pli=1
The North Penn School District will host a Diversity Data Deep Dive program on March, 9.
We encourage Upper Gwynedd Township residents to attend this meeting to hear the District’s leaders explain why they use terms like diversity and disproportionality to achieve equity. Although free, this program requires participants to register. ED1085 ESC/conf. Room A, 7-8:30 PM