Newberry Township scuttles housing development after neighbors object

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Property at 665 Red Mill Rd. is shown in Newberry Township, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The Newberry Township Board of Supervisors put the kibosh on a local developer's plans Tuesday for a new housing complex on Red Mill Road after several neighbors spoke out against the project.

Jay Patel, operating as Mahagauri Realty LLC, petitioned the board to change the zoning of a 30-acre property at 665 Red Mill Road to residential growth, to allow for higher-density housing than the current designation, residential holding, according to minutes from the Nov. 24 supervisors meeting.

Rather than send the petition to the Newberry Township Planning Commission and the York County Planning Commission to hear their recommendations and schedule a public hearing, the township's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to stop the process altogether.

"The fact is that they haven’t done much more with it at this point," said board Chair Mario Eckert. "And rather than allow that to continue, I don’t see any reason for us to further this at this point."

Patel's preliminary plan for the Red Mill Road property included about 100 to 120 multi-family homes and about 60 single family homes, but he hadn't submitted a formal plan or finalized his purchase of the land as of Tuesday.

His attorney, Jeffrey L. Rehmeyer II, said Patel was waiting to move forward until he had some assurance the board would grant the zoning change.

"The challenge that Jay faces here is ... you have to proceed in increments, so it’s not appropriate to spend a lot of money on planning until you know you can get where you need to go," Rehmeyer said. 

More:Judge rules Save Rite Auto can continue operating, upholds Newberry Twp. zoning decision

Patel is already a property owner in the township, as he owns the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell restaurants at 49 Robinhood Drive, Rehmeyer said.

Prior to the vote, the township's solicitor, Andrew J. Miller, said the purpose of sending the zoning petition to the planning agencies would be to learn more information about the project before making a decision.

But Supervisor Clair Wintermyer said he'd heard enough.

Several township residents either submitted written comments or entered the meeting room one at a time, abiding by social distancing requirements, to ask the board to reject the rezoning request.

As of Wednesday, an online petition at Change.org to stop the rezoning had garnered just shy of 1,000 signatures.

Tim Costello lives at 110 Pleasant View Drive, and his property abuts the Red Mill Road property.

Costello said he wouldn't be against a development of single-family homes, but he doesn't want to see multi-family housing and the resulting spike in traffic on Pleasant View Road, which borders the north side of the property.

"Somebody better widen that road and improve it, because that road’s not equipped to handle it," he said.

Wintermyer later made a similar comment about the roads being too narrow.

"I’m not even sure how the school got approved for that area," Wintermyer said, referring to Red Mill Elementary School, which sits opposite the property Patel hoped to develop.

Rehmeyer could not be reached Wednesday for additional comment.

More:Newberry Twp. official: I was targeted after questioning supervisor's fee exemption

More:Newberry Twp. board banishes tax collector to sewer complex