HAMILTON - The township is close to a deal that would scrap its controversial purchase of Klockner Woods and allow a developer to build age-restricted housing on about half of the property and donate the other half to the township, an administration source confirmed yesterday.
The deal, which is being negotiated with the land's owner, Doylestown, Pa.-based Fieldstone Associates, would kill the township's controversial $4.1 million purchase of the land and allow the developer to instead build 100 age-restricted duplexes on half of the 51-acre property.
To avert just such a development, the township had previously agreed to buy the property from Fieldstone on the assumption that at least 41 single-family homes could be built there, though subsequent revelations about the extent of wetlands opened up that assumption to considerable doubt.
The new deal would effectively end the township's two-year attempt to preserve the property. Its plan to buy the land has been plagued from the start by questions over the actual value of the property, which Fieldstone bought in 2001 for $375,000.
Under the deal in the works, the undeveloped half of the property would be donated to the township as open space. According to the source, the deal also calls for Fieldstone to pay for recreational improvements, such as trails and possibly fields, on the land.
The deal would effectively put the two sides back to where they were in late 2002, when Fieldstone first submitted plans to develop the land. But the 100 age-restricted homes are fewer than half of the 256 originally proposed for the property.
Township officials would not comment yesterday on a possible deal. And an attorney for Fieldstone could not be reached for comment.
Really. No, really- This is what's happening now. After all that, months of legal wrangling, weak attempts to preserve the land, court cases- Hamilton will roll over and let the developer just build much like they wanted in the first place? I guess the town wants its citizens to be happy that some of it will be preserved in the end, and that the town/county/state don't have to pick up the exorbitant tab as negotiated.
I feel like I've been had. It almost seems as if the town never had any intention of preserving the land and a lot of this was for show, to placate the preservation groups. That would explain a lot- particularly, why they declined to use the eminent domain proceedings in the first place.
The Times report was based on an anonymous source and the parties involved haven't commented. I wait to see what happens next...