Haws Lane Property: Important consideration!

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Hello Community,

Let your voice be heard AGAIN! Let’s encourage the school board and Township commissioners to consider a joint purchase of Haws Lane property!

This is regarding next steps for the Haws Lane property.

**We know that both the township and the school board are aware of this property and they were informally asked to consider the purchase of the tract. 

**We know that the school board and commissioners need to hear OUR voices regarding the potential for the township and/or the school district to purchase the property. 

**To that end we have written a “Joint Venture Statement” ( similar to our Statement of Concern). 

**We are asking that if you agree with the below statement that you sign and share this new petition.

**We will then present this Joint Venture Statement to the School Board AND the Board of Commissioners with the associated Petition. 

As we saw in the summer (with our outreach to the commissioners) that once our voices were heard, change occurred!        Thank you!!

**********************JOINT VENTURE STATEMENT*************************

PROPOSAL FOR CONSIDERATION OF A JOINT PURCHASE OF 380 HAWS LANE (Springfield Township/Springfield School District)

This letter is on behalf of township residents who request that Springfield School District and Springfield Township consider a joint or individual purchase of the property at 380/408 Haws Lane in Erdenheim, as evidenced by the signed petition. The statements included herein are based on the opinions of Springfield Township community members, parents of Springfield Township students, and most importantly tax payers, who believe the potential benefits of purchasing the property deserve the school board’s and township’s thoughtful consideration and, at minimum, be proposed to the general community to assess interest.

As School Board members and township Commissioners you have been made aware of the concern many residents have regarding the potential development options for 380 and 408 Haws Lane. The community’s apprehension was evidenced by the overwhelming display of concern at the township’s board meetings and the 800 plus signatures on a petition in opposition to the latest proposed use of the property (100-unit 4-story age restricted apartment complex and proposed variances). After hearing the concerns and recognizing the significant community opposition to the proposed plan, the Board of Commissioners re-voted to send their solicitor in opposition of the proposed plan to the Zoning Board meeting. Subsequently, the developer rescinded the proposal from the September Zoning Board hearing. Many residents considered this a small victory, though we understand the property must be sold and it is only a matter of time before the next proposal comes before us. Recognizing this, we would like to take a proactive, versus reactive, approach to problem solving. We adamantly believe the purchase of the property by the school district and/or township could provide a mutually beneficial solution. We ask for your consideration of the following:

Springfield township/school district is an amazing place to live and is highly sought after by families who want to buy homes in this area. With a growing population, the ongoing growth and expansion of the school system is inevitable. When both past and recent needs for expanding the Springfield school campus’ with new fields and updated larger facilities became a necessity/priority, the land was available to accommodate the expansion. This is not always the case. Locally, we certainly can point to a trend of schools/universities purchasing proximal land as it becomes available to meet future potential needs. Right here in our neighborhood, St. Genevieve’s expansion planning committee wished they had seized past opportunities to purchase adjacent land when available! The reality is, sometimes the opportunity to buy land precedes the vision or identified usage plan. We feel that purchasing this 4.7acre plot of land adjacent to and adjoining the entire Springfield campus would not only be a justifiable, but an innovative, proactive investment.

In addition to meeting potential future needs, there are immediate benefits of owning the property for the school district, the township, and community members that include:

Ensuring the safety of the school children by eliminating larger development options with potential negative impact (ie. increased traffic)

Option for use of outdoor learning space (research indicates clear benefits of educating outside traditional classroom environment to meet varied learning needs) 

Conserving green space

Maintaining the integrity of community neighborhoods
 1. Safety of the School Children: Institutional development of this land (ie. apartment complex assisted living facility, or other medical facilities) would create a considerable amount of occupants/workers, and it is reasonable to expect they could be commuting at approximately the same time school is beginning and school or sporting events are ending. Maintaining the land as close to the current situation is the best way to limit the increased dangers to the commuting school children.

2. Outdoor Learning Space: We consider our school district to be one of the best school districts in the area. This is because our teachers and administrators focus on the children’s individual needs and foster an environment in which all children can thrive. This is accomplished by providing diversity in teaching techniques and approaches and staying abreast of the modern trends in education, one of which is nontraditional learning spaces. Outdoor learning has been associated with better grades, decreased stress levels, increased motivation, and improved behavior. The natural environment of this plot of land, in its current state, would provide perfect outdoor classroom and nature areas.

3. Conserving Green Space: Given current concerns of global warming, eliminating green space for hardscape is a world-wide debate. From aerial photos, this parcel of land is one of the very few undeveloped plots in the township and beautifully fits the characteristics of the community. This green space is home to many deer and smaller wildlife that frequent our backyards. This space could also be utilized for school and community gardening or other community based outdoor activities.

4. Maintaining the integrity of community neighborhoods: A primary objective of the Township’s Comprehensive Plan, as we understand it, is to preserve the natural features of the existing property and maintain the character of the existing neighborhoods. The existing property is 4.7 acres, of which approximately 50% is tree covered, and contains single family dwelling structures. Considering the latest proposal, in order for most development options to generate revenue on such a small parcel of land, the need to overdevelop by eliminating the existing green space by reducing setbacks and increasing impervious coverage and building multi-story buildings is a necessity. This does very little for maintaining the integrity of the neighborhoods and the grounds surrounding the school.

5. Conserving green space, preventing over-development, and maintaining the integrity of our community neighborhoods, also happen to be key concepts in the platforms of which some Commissioners are using to seek re-election. We are pleased to see these parallels in values and priorities and are hopeful they will consider supporting solutions that are in-line with their initiatives.

As we learned in our experience with the most recent proposed plan, initial decisions made by elected officials are sometimes done so without full awareness of what the constituents want. When we had the opportunity to meet with Commissioners, productive dialogue was had and new discoveries where made. Many were grateful for the opportunity to be heard and have their voices actively inform a changed outcome with regards to sending the Solicitor in opposition to the Zoning Board. Similarly, we are hopeful that decisions made to pursue or not pursue the purchase of the property are not made without seeking constituency opinions. We believe it is paramount that the School Board and township officials fully engage the community regarding interest in the acquisition of this property, knowing once this property is sold, we will never have the opportunity to utilize it when the need inevitably arises.

We are asking you, our elected officials, to make informed decisions that will have a mutually beneficial outcome, and one that the taxpayers believe is a justifiable expenditure. We sincerely thank you for your time.