Developer BET Investments was once again met with disapproval from the Upper Dublin Planning Commission Tuesday night, after presenting revised plans for building four structures in the 'Dresher triangle,' including a hotel.
In September, BET that called for a four-story hotel, CVS pharmacy, restaurant, and office building on the 9.5-acre lot, just south of Sunrise Assisted Living between Susquehanna Road and Limekiln Pike. However, the commission had numerous concerns with the proposal, the main being that the property did not properly blend surrounding residential to commercial in accordance with the spirit of the Dresher Overlay.
The commission also had expressed concerns over traffic.
BET, represented by engineer Peter Clelland, presented several revisions, including a reduction of the hotel to three stories, decreasing the number of rooms from 121 to 90. The CVS remained at a proposed 12, 900 sq. ft., while the restaurant increased from 5,800 to 6,500 sq. ft.
In addition, the buildings were slightly shuffled so that the currently vacant "Clime House," which would still receive an addition and be converted into office space, was relocated to the northeast portion of the property to be closest to Golden Drive.
“The [new plan] relocates the old house…to the back of the site to be a less intense use…which enables us to increase the buffer along that side and bring the hotel closer to Susquehanna Road.” said Clelland. “And with the CVS we have similarly brought that considerably closer to [Susquehanna].”
Despite the changes, the commission still said they did not approve of a hotel.
"I think this is an improvement over the prior plan. I like that the hotel is moved away from Golden Drive and that the house is relocated," said commission member Wendy Kapustin. "That being said, I still do not think that the hotel is an appropriate use in this district, I think it belongs in the office park."
Kapustin added that she believed the CVS to be a purely commercial use, as opposed to transitional. Kapustin added that she was fine with office and restaurant use.
"I've seen a lot of hotels in my life…and there's a lot of constant movement in and out, seven days a week," said commission chair Wesley Wolf. "Unlike an office use, which is mostly five days a week, 9 to 5."
A number of local residents also spoke out against the proposal and voiced frustrations they said have been building for over a decade.
"When the overlay was passed we were told we were going to see limited uses, transitional in nature," said Mark Cuker, of 1469 Golden Drive, adding he recalled discussions revolving around residential developments and a maximum of 750 vehicle visits a day.
"For 12 years we have been dealing with BET, they have come before this commission many times [with plans]-- all of them have overreached," said his wife, Karen Cuker, who claimed that she had been intimidated in the past by a BET attorney. "He came into our home and viewed out our back window what we would be seeing… and told us that we had best go along with their plan or it would get worse."
Karen Cuker also claimed that that BET surveyors had trespassed onto her and her neighbors' properties several weeks prior while clearing out brush from the property. Clelland later said that BET contractors were working to cut down weeds so that individuals would stop dumping garbage on the property, and surveyors were marking property lines to create proper boundaries.
Jordan Nadell, of 1461 Golden Drive, cited concerns of transient hotel guests being within yards of where his children play in his backyard.
"We're worried about crime, about noise, about the smell of food," Nadell said. "We spent probably $10-15 million on our homes collectively. This is going to devalue our homes significantly. If it's 10 percent, that's over a million dollars."
Ultimately, the commission said that there were still many steps to be taken before any plan is voted on.
"We need to talk to the township, this isn't going to get resolved just with the planning commission… But you did get our feedback tonight," Wolf said.
Under the Dresher Overlay, only the restaurant and office space are currently allowed by code, meaning BET would either need to seek variances or facilitate a change to the overlay, with approval ultimately coming from the township Board of Commissioners.