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Bucks Builder Grilled on Heritage Highgate

Upper Macungie planners, residents pepper developer with questions about housing construction plans for Twin Ponds Road.

A Bucks County builder is hoping to break ground soon on a housing development on Twin Ponds Road in Upper Macungie but first the company has to address township concerns.

Representatives of Heritage Highgate told the Wednesday that they have revised earlier plans in order to build more townhouses and fewer single homes on what was previously known as the Dunbar Tract Phase III.

The 2007 plan called for 53 single-family homes and fewer townhouses, said Gia Raffaelli, a lawyer for Heritage Highgate. The revised version envisions 63 townhouses and 22 single-family homes.

Samir Ashmar, planning board member and township supervisor, said the property that includes the vacant Dunbar house “is a real mess.” He runs with the township fire department and he said firefighters have found syringes out there. “There’s a bridge there that’s totally unsafe,” Ashmar said. “The pond is full of debris, there’s junk all around that facility. That needs to be cleaned up.”

The vacant Dunbar house is “constantly being vandalized,” Ashmar said. “Our police department is very busy over there.”

Raffaelli said originally Upper Macungie officials wanted the house to be deeded to the township but it appears they have changed their minds.

John F. Maczonis, vice president for land development for Heritage Construction Co. of Jamison, said once they can start construction, cleaning up the area and demolishing the house will be among their first steps. “We would do a complete cleanup on that,” he said.

Resident Shohn Montano, who lives in one of the developer’s finished homes on Tudor Drive, said his development still has problems with sidewalks and drainage that Heritage hasn’t addressed yet. “The sidewalks are cracked, broken…there’s a lot of outstanding issues that still aren’t addressed and they’re moving on to something else,” he said.

Maczonis responded that if Montano or other residents have specific complaints they should put them in writing and submit them to Heritage. Since the company went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, its reorganization plan requires it to follow a certain protocol for how money is spent, he said.

“We do plow the streets, the streets that are under construction, we do street sweep them,” Maczonis said. “We try to maintain them as best we can with an ongoing construction site.”

Maczonis said they did corrective work on Montano’s property for drainage problems months ago and hadn’t heard it was still a problem. “If you have a particular problem, go through the procedures, let us know and we’ll take care of it,” he said.

The planners, the township engineer and another resident questioned the Heritage representatives about irrigation systems, storm water, catch basins  and sidewalks.  

Planners voted to take the plans under consideration while the township engineer checks into some of the concerns.

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