Board Hears More Concerns On Ragusa Progress

Board Hear More Concerns On Ragusa Progress

An aerial photo shows trees cleared in preparing the Ragusa Tract for a proposed housing community

LOWER FREDERICK PA – A petition containing about 100 signatures of Lower Frederick property owners and residents, asking the township to address their requests for improvements in and safety concerns regarding development of the Ragusa Tract at the intersection of Zieglerville and Schwenk roads, was presented Tuesday (Oct. 31, 2017) to the Board of Supervisors. Board members accepted the petition, but did not immediately act on it.

A small crowd attending the board’s Tuesday work session also asked it to deny waivers sought by Ragusa developers. Although supervisors did not indicate how they might vote on waivers in the near future, board Vice Chairman Ron Kerwood agreed he would “want more things fixed” with the project before he could consider granting it conditional approval. Kerwood did not specify which items he believed needed additional work, but said he doubted they could be remedied for consideration by the board’s Nov. 8 (Wednesday) meeting.

Supervisors often meet on the first and last Tuesday of each month, but their initial November meeting was re-scheduled to accommodate general elections Nov. 7 (Tuesday).

Nearby property owners named a long list of perceived problems with the proposed housing community. They included site preparation, traffic and school bus safety, storm water management, interior street widths, early morning hour deliveries of stone needed to create an entrance into the tract, a lack of emergency access for the property other than its entrance, and inadequate parking.

The most-voiced concern was the speed with which the project seems to have moved since June, when contractors cut down wide swaths of trees (at top) to make room for future homes. Some alleged the “clear cutting” was not staged as initially planned, and that workers also removed trees which were part of a 100-foot wide buffer zone between the development and adjacent properties.

“All we’re asking is to slow down a minute,” Zieglerville Road homeowner Bob Burns suggested in discussing the petitions. “Let’s do this right … We need to move a little more slowly. That’s in everybody’s best interests to do.”

Burns and others advocated the township seek to verify the width of, and claimed encroachment on, the buffer zone. They cited state and local regulations demanding fines of up to $600 per tree for trees of specific sizes they charged were illegally removed, and said those fines should be imposed and deposited into the township’s general fund to offset future taxes. Kerwood said he would “consider” exploring the buffer allegations; neither board Chairman Bob Yoder or Supervisor Terry Sacks commented on the request.

Township Engineer Carol Schuehler noted she or others working for her firm, Cedarville Engineering Group LLC, may soon be able to take those measurements. She reminded supervisors that removing trees from the buffer zone could alter drainage calculations for storm water management, raising concerns for both the township and the Montgomery County Conservation District.

Township Solicitor Damien Brewster acknowledged the township had stepped in earlier and issued a cease-and-desist order when developers began installing an entrance driveway sooner than allowed. Work reportedly resumed just last week, following what Schuehler said was a pre-construction meeting.

Related (to the Lower Frederick Board of Supervisors’ Oct. 31 meeting):

Photo provided by the Friends of Lower Frederick Township organization