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Deferrals recommended for curbs, sidewalks at Salisbury apartment project

The sidewalk to nowhere led to two deferrals for a proposed apartment building project on Salisbury Township’s east side.

“I”m not a fan of sidewalks to nowhere,” Salisbury Planning Commissioner Frank Frankenfield said.

The Salisbury Township Planning Commission voted 6-0, with one planner absent, to recommend approval of deferrals for curbs and sidewalks for the land development at 1493 E. Emmaus Ave. submitted by the developer, NuVision Properties, LLC.

The project proposes to convert the building into 12 garden apartment units. The property is in the R4, Medium Density Residential zoning district.

NuVision Properties is represented by Attorney William G. Malkames, on behalf of Julius Ewungkem and Frank Ndi, NuVision owners.

The building for the NuVision project housed an eight-unit group home owned and operated by Eastern Comfort Assisted Living II, Inc.

The 32,450-square-foot building has a central hallway on each of its two floors.

Each apartment is to be one-bedroom. One room in each of the two-bedroom living quarters will be converted for use as a kitchen. Each apartment will be 504-square-feet to 572-square-feet.

At issue before the planners at the April 27 meeting was a requirement by planners for curbs and sidewalk to be constructed by NuVision along East Emmaus Avenue and Fairview Road and sidewalks to be constructed along Fairview Road.

“It’s a major point with us in terms of the feasibility of the project,” Ndi said.

After the meeting, Ndi told a reporter for The Press constructing curbs and sidewalks would cost $120,000 to $150,000.

The developers presented to planners and those at the meeting copies of a 12-page handout, “Mitigating Conditions Against Curbing and Sidewalk around 1493 East Emmaus Avenue,” to planners including photographs and explanations under the topics, “Safety Hazards,” “Technical obstacles and challenges,” “Nonconformance to prevailing neighborhood conditions” and “Community hazards.”

Under safety hazards, a photograph depicted a guardrail on the west side of Fairview, which would apparently prevent a sidewalk from being constructed. “A sidewalk on Fairview will encourage and funnel pedestrian traffic into the road, posing a safety hazard since the sidewalk cannot continue beyond our property,” the handout stated.

Also depicted under safety hazards were two photos of an electric utility pole said to be one foot from Fairview and East Emmaus Aveuue. “Attempts at digging for curbing will likely pose a safety hazard for electrical facilities or long-term instability for the pole” and “would present a technical challenge to curbing,” it was stated.

“They would have to move that pole,” planners Chairman Charles Beck observed.

Under technical obstacles and challenges, a photo depicted an up to three-foot drop in elevation of the property along East Emmaus Avenue, which, it was stated, “would render a curb impractical on this stretch of road.”

Concerning curb and sidewalk nonconforming neighborhood, factors along Fairview, “no other section of this road has a curb or sidewalk,” it was stated.

Referring to community hazards, the handout stated, “the building has been vacant and suffered further degradation that we have to remedy at additional cost.”

Moreover, the handout stated, “The significantly high cost of sidewalk and curbing, in addition to permitting delays that would entail, would very likely doom the project.

“This would leave the neighborhood with a very visible, very blighted property that would do more harm to the wellness of the neighborhood and property values.”

The handout included photos and information about another apartment project in Salisbury NuVision said it recently completed.

“If you approve our project, it could significantly improve the community,” Ndi said.

“But if we have to do this requirement, it could be a showstopper,” Ndi said.

“Fairview and Emmaus Avenue are PennDOT [Pennsylvania Department of Transportation] roads and permits will be required, Salisbury Township Consulting Engineer David J. Tettemer of Keystone Consulting Engineers, Inc., said.

“If you put curb in, PennDOT will require you to widen the road,” Tettemer said.

“I don’t think curbing and sidewalk would work,” Salisbury Township Planning and Zoning Officer Kerry H. Rabold said.

“I’m all in favor of granting the deferrals,” Rabold said.

Planner Jessica Klocek made the motion, seconded by Planner Jimmy Brown, to bring the deferrals for the NuVision project to a vote.

The 7 p.m. May 25 planning commission meeting is canceled.

The 7 p.m. May 18 Salisbury Township Environmental Advisory Board meeting is canceled.

The Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners meets 7 p.m. May 12 in the municipal building, 2900 S. Pike Ave.