Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Hope Zoning Hearing Board to weigh proposed new housing development across from high school

By Charlie Sahner

The Zoning Hearing Board of New Hope will consider in the weeks ahead a proposal by Rebecca River Road, LLC  President J. Robert Hillier of Princeton to build a residential development at 181 W. Bridge St., a 4.6 acre parcel directly opposite New Hope-Solebury High School.

The property contains a 9,500 square foot main house known as the 'Cintra Mansion' built in 1816 and historically registered.  That building is flanked by two cottages, and backed by a barn now used as an apartment building.

All in all, there are currently 13 apartments -- three in separate cottages, eight in the existing structure, and two in Cintra that are now vacant.

Said Nina Burns of Weidel New Hope, broker for the deal, "The proposed buyer/owner has presented a fabulous plan to restore and renovate the Cintra property.  He is definitely someone who knows how to restore old buildings yet bring full charisma to the area and best of all to the people of the community."

One area resident familar with zoning issues said he found the proposed project to be innovative, particularly in its use of advanced drainage techniques to ameliorate impermeable surface impacts, and in its preservation of existing trees (said to have already been measured and tagged).

Another resident who asked to remain anonymous asserted that requested variances pertaining to density of units within a given lot size, conversion of housing units deemed to be of historic value, and parking in front of historic structures, might draw scrutiny.

Under the current proposal, the parcel of land will be divided into two parts: the first lot, situated at the north end of the property, measures 1.5 acres and will be contributed by the builder to the New Hope-Solebury Library as a site for an expanded location with parking.

The second lot contains the proposed "Joseph Stanley" development that involves the restoration of the Cintra Mansion, cottages and barn for residential occupancy, essentially adding 16 new units to the existing 13 for a total of 29 residential condominiums.

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