Artist’s impression of a proposed 42-unit apartment building and surrounding features. The building would be constructed on part of the Woods Services campus in Middletown Township.

A number of local residents have raised questions and concerns about a proposed four-story, 42-unit apartment building that would be built on a 19-acre slice of the Woods Services Inc. campus of 285 acres in Middletown Township.

But those residents will have to wait a bit longer until they can air those thoughts in front of an audience after a hearing by the Middletown Township Zoning Hearing Committee on Wednesday night to consider the variances needed for the pending project. continues until June 8 before seeking public comment.

Officials of Woods Services, a large, sprawling non-profit facility that provides many types of services to people with various intellectual and developmental disabilities, are proposing the apartment building called Maple View for Woods’ Beechwood NeuroRehab property at 469 East Maple Avenue, which is near the border with Langhorne Borough.

The building is listed as affordable housing and would be erected by construction company Domis on land that is now parking and grass. Five homes that serve as group homes for Woods’ clients and their supervisors would remain.

According to Woods officials, a for-profit entity would be formed in which Woods would be a majority partner, and that entity would own Maple View and pay property taxes on it, even though Woods, as a nonprofit, does not pay property taxes on the remainder. of its campus.

Woods is working to secure tax credits for the project that would incentivize the construction of attainable/affordable housing, nonprofit officials added.

Attorney Michael Meginniss speaks on behalf of Woods Services at the Middletown Zoning Hearing Board meeting on Wednesday evening.
Credit: Chris English/LevittownNow.com

The Middletown Township Zoning Hearing Board is considering waivers which, if granted, would allow for apartment use, and more units per acre and higher building height than normally permitted in the zoning district R-1 where the building would be constructed.

If the waivers are granted, Woods would also need land use planning approval from township supervisors in order to proceed.

Wednesday night’s hearing, which lasted two hours until 10 p.m., featured a thorough questioning of Woods’ executive vice president of operations, Dawn Diamond, by members of the Zoning Hearing Board and the Woods’ lawyer for the project, Michael Meginniss. Peter Nelson, an attorney representing several residents and an organization that was granted party status in the case, also asked several questions.

Diamond testified that the apartment building would have 20 one-bedroom units, 15 two-bedroom units and 7 three-bedroom units. Some of the units would go to Woods customers and the rest to area residents — including, perhaps, some Woods employees — who requested them. She was unable to provide an accurate breakdown.

Based on responses to questions from Middletown Township Zoning Hearing Board Chairman Ernie Peacock and member Kevin Strouse, it was unclear how Woods would ensure that some of the apartments would go to his clients.

When repeatedly asked if the project could be scaled down, Diamond said the size was based in part on an assessment of the housing needs of area residents and Woods customers, and in part on the need to make the multi-million dollar project financially viable.

Diamond and Meginniss said the onsite apartment building would eliminate the need for some customers to be transported from offsite accommodation each day, which would actually reduce traffic.

“It’s very difficult for people to find affordable housing,” Diamond testified.

“It’s not something the township will regret, but something the township will be incredibly proud of,” Meginniss added.

During a break in the hearing, he said all apartments would come with rents, but specific prices had not yet been agreed. Meginniss added that all non-Woods tenants would be carefully vetted.

Zoning Hearing Board chairman Ernie Peacock, right, speaks at Wednesday night’s hearing to consider the discrepancies. On the left, William Cosen, member of the ZHB.
Credit: Chris English/LevittownNow.com

“The Bucks County Opportunity Council has identified accessible housing as one of the greatest needs in the community, especially for people with disabilities,” reads a flyer provided to LevittownNow by Woods officials.

“Due to the lack of reasonably priced housing in Bucks County, many people working at Woods and other Langhorne businesses travel long distances and spend hours a day commuting to and from work. New housing options would help attract and retain new employees to businesses and provide a better quality of life for them and their families.

Meginniss said Woods plans to bring an authority on tax credits to the June 8 hearing to better answer questions dealing with that aspect of the matter.

Peacock said that because Woods is expected to call several other witnesses, there’s a chance the Zoners won’t get public comment at the June 8 hearing either.

Zoning Hearing Board attorney Patrick Hitchens said residents who are unwilling or unable to attend the June 8 or upcoming hearings on the matter can submit written comments to the Director of Construction and of Township Zoning, Jim Ennis.

Comments may be emailed to Ennis at [email protected], mailed to the attention of: Jim Ennis, Middletown Township Municipal Building, 3 Municipal Way, Langhorne, PA 19047 or dropped off for him at municipal building, which is just next to the north. Chemin du Moulin des Fleurs.

Ennis said any comments he receives will be forwarded to Hitchens and will become part of the hearing file.

In a separate plan, Woods is working to sell part of its campus in the borough of Langhorne to homebuilder Toll Brothers for development.

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