At the June Board of Supervisors meeting, among many agenda items, the Jones Motor property zoning petition was discussed. The Board, being advised that the final petition had been submitted to Chester County as required by the MPC, scheduled a public meeting for comment on the proposed ordinance creating a commercial-mixed use overlay (CMU). This public hearing is scheduled on Wednesday, July 13th, to immediately follow the regular monthly BOS meeting, which was moved up to 7:00 PM to accommodate the hearing.
As is described in the advertisement for the meeting, the BOS will have the ability to vote on the ordinance providing no commentary from the public necessitates any changes to the proposed ordinance.
CCOEV will be presenting information at that meeting and asking questions of the Board ensuring that the ordinance, as currently written, will satisfy the needs of all parties concerned.
It is doubtful that any East Vincent resident opposes some sort of appropriate use, either commercial, office, or agricultural, of that property, of which the commercial corner part has lain fallow for some time now.
Collectively, I’m confident that there is a Township consensus that the Jones Motor property must become attractive to a competent and perhaps daring developer. However, some of the issues all EV citizens should examine and feel certain have been addressed to their satisfaction are:
1. The CMU is an overlay on the existing GI & PO zoning. Thus, that which is currently a use by right in the existing zones will still be available to a developer. The CMU now makes it possible within a minimum 150-acre tract to include residential housing meeting the parameters of the CMU overlay.
2. The CMU will permit as much as 870,000 square feet of commercial space to be constructed including the possibility of two structures as large as 135,000 square feet each [Examples of retail stores using that much single-structure square footage are Wal-Mart Supercenter, Target, Best Buy or Wegmans. Another way of understanding the impact of the 480,000 square feet of total commercial space in the Jones Motor analysis is to look at the Lakeview Shopping Center in Royersford; the combination of all of the stores there is 195,000 square feet. Yet another way of understanding the potential scope of the commercial space provision of the petition is to know that the combined store square footage of the Philadelphia Premium Outlet in Limerick or gross leasable area is 430,000 square feet]. If that option is exercised, then the first of those buildings must be a retail operation dedicating at least 51% of the constructed space to food and ingestible products.
3. The CMU will permit a residential density creating as many as 450 or more single-family dwellings where before no residential was allowed.
4. The arterial feed of Route 724 and traffic flow on Bridge Street and Mennonite Church Road will drive cars and trucks to this site. Can those roads, even with significant upgrades handle such volume?
In the analysis provided by the Jones Motor property owners, they offered impacts based on 373 residential units comprised of a mixture of single family detached (76 units), twins (74 units) and townhouses (223 units). I’m not certain I understand the value for twins since that term is used in the Philadelphia area to describe two housing units sharing a common wall. Until clarification of that term is defined, I will use it the way Jones Motor provided it and count the “twins” as one single-family dwelling.
The Jones Motor analysis shows a population in those 373 residential units of 822 with 79 of that number representing “new school-aged children”. However, according to the 2010 US Census (http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_DP_DPDP1&prodType=table), the average household size in East Vincent is 2.88 persons per house and the average family size is 3.31 persons.
If those numbers are used as the expectation for the proposed residential development, which is what an urban planner would use, then the population increase once all 373 dwellings are occupied will be a mathematical projected minimum of 1,074 persons to a high (if all units are occupied by families) of 1,234 with 488 of those people being children (presuming no single parent families; if done the number of children increases). Even if we assume that only 50% of those children are of school age, the impact to OJR is 244 children, not 79. Ask yourself how this larger number may affect your property taxes.
The 2010 population of East Vincent is 6,821 with a median age of 39.8 years. Using the Jones Motor presumptions, the population addition of 822 is a 12% increase. Using the Census information, 1,074 new residents is an increase of 15.7%; and if the 1,234 population is used, it represents a staggering 18.1% increase. I fear the calculation of 450 homes at 3.31 persons per home equaling 1,490 people or a 21.8% increase!
I am becoming skeptical about the demographic information being supplied by Jones Motor, so let’s continue.
They offered that the single-family dwellings would sell for an average of $425,000 each totaling $32.3 million. The “twins” will go at an average of $375,000 each totaling $27.8 million. The townhomes will average $317,000 for a total of $70.8 million.
The proposed net sale value of the 373 homes will be $130,845,000 with the assessed value calculated at $72.3 million. Using this number, the transfer tax realized by East Vincent would be $654,000. Jones Motor also offered that East Vincent would realize $435,000 of earned income tax from the new residents. Other income and expenditure items calculated a “net township fiscal impact” of $810,700.
There are problems with this analysis. First, considering the current housing market and the predictions of economic experts as to how and when the housing market will begin to recover, these estimates provided by Jones Motor are highly optimistic. One look at our area and we see that townhomes are selling in the $175,000 to $225,000 range. Also, the market for $400,000+ homes has severely withered and is likely to not return for quite a while. Therefore, the $131 million project seems to be almost twice reality, and all numbers subsequently derived are suspect as well.
But for the purpose of this exercise, let’s assume that all 373 homes sell on day one at the full proposed price, and the Township is up the $810,700 shown by Jones Motor. The transfer tax is a single event and not recurring income. Immediately, year two shows the township seeing, again using the Jones Motor numbers, $535,000 of income from these 373 homes (Presuming $435,000 of earned income tax and $100,000 of property and non-property tax).
I’m certain anyone reading this op-ed will agree that with a minimum 12% population increase and a minimum of 486,000 square feet of commercial space, the need for at least one full-time police officer added to the current force is indicated. Using 2,080 hours per full-time employee per year, staffing for one 24/7/365 police officer requires 4.2 people hired. If we presume the landed cost of a police officer at $60,000 per year, then the cost increase to the township, including infrastructure costs such as an additional squad car, equipment and other requirements, is between $250,000 and $300,000. In year two the new population and commercial enterprises will cost the township.
Even using some sleight-of-hand to reduce the number of people required to be hired for the police force, the $538,000 of Year 2 income is substantially reduced. And other expenditures such as DPW, electricity and new infrastructure maintenance will further erode that income.
I would go on, but for now I believe I have made my point.
East Vincent residents must insist that the various scenarios that would be permitted by the Jones Motor zoning petition have been fully analyzed by the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors; that they are completely aware of the financial impact of the proposed development plan example (and yes, I acknowledge it is only a suggestion by the property owner); and that the Township’s interests and needs are preserved.
I have heard Supervisors Funk and Dunphy talk about the dire need for rateables. The need to increase the tax base so as to ensure a revenue flow that will exceed the Township’s continuously increasing expenses. The cursory financial examination above seems to indicate that need may not be met as much as these Supervisors think. Accordingly, is there an analysis the Board has examined that shows otherwise? I’m certain all EVT residents would want to see it.
Your attendance at the July 13th meeting is the only way you can ensure you and your rights are protected. Asking insightful questions about how the Township benefits from the dramatic changes the Jones Motor zoning change can create is vital. Your absence will cost all of us dearly in the short run. The long run is frightening even more so.
CCOEV’s website www.ccoev.org has been updated. The amendment, a petition, and relevant articles are under the Jones Motor tab. Please visit us and let us know if there is anything else you would like to see. CCOEV is for all East Vincent residents and you will determine the future of this website and our Township. Thank you.