After vocal, at times hostile opposition from area residents, the Plymouth Township Council denied an application to build a 389-unit apartment complex near the intersection of Plymouth Road and Butler Pike at its Monday night meeting.
Over 70 residents were on hand to hear the council’s decision on the complex, with many residents expressing concern to council about the traffic impacts of increased residents in the area, as well as the manner in which the project was publicized to residents.
“We’re asking you, our representatives, to limit traffic in this neighborhood and vote against this proposal,” resident Tammy Harrison said during public comment.
Nancy Benowitz of Plymouth presented the council with a petition with signatures from “over 150 area residents” protesting the development.
“Our major objection is the traffic congestion that would be created by the development,” she said.
Michael Clarke, the township’s solicitor, said that the township had done “a number of traffic studies” looking at the impact the project would have on the nearby intersections.
Robert Benowitz, who identified himself as a Plymouth Meeting-based lawyer with planning board experience, said that the study didn’t go far enough.
“I’ve been through this dog and pony show with [traffic studies] before, he said. “It’s my experience that traffic studies are not to be believed.”
Clarke said that, while the study looked at traffic patterns in the area of the Plymouth Road and Butler Pike intersection, other areas of concern raised by the residents, like the intersection of Germantown and Butler Pikes, was not looked at.
“While this project may impact Germantown Pike, it is outside the proximity of this ordinance,” he said.
Residents also claimed that the project was not properly announced to the public, with many claiming they had never heard about the project before. One resident accused the council of trying to “jam something through.”
Township manager Karen Weiss maintained that the project had been property noticed via state guidelines, including information in local media and posting on the township’s website.
“The rules and regulation [of public notice] have been the same as they’ve been forever,” council member Sheldon Simpson said. “ We’re not cheating anyone. This was in the newspaper. It’s been on the website.”
Clarke said that the project has been public since its beginning stages in 2005.
“This application has been a collaborative effort,” he said. “The owner of the property approached the township and wanted to develop it as an apartment building. Through discussions that lasted over a year, the text of this amendment was approved in August this year.”
After an hour of public discussion, the council unanimously voted to deny the development.
Council encouraged the public to “pay attention to the township 365 days a year.”
“People need to pay attention all the time, not just when one thing happens,” Simpson said. “This audience should be this large every month.”