New Hope not happy with 40-unit plan

The Borough Council thinks George Michael’s plans for 36 condos and four apartments at the site of the old New Hope Inn is too high, too dense and too close to Ingham Creek.

By: Linda Seida
   NEW HOPE — Members of the Borough Council had three things to say about a developer’s plan to put 36 condominiums and four apartments on the site of the old New Hope Inn: It’s too high, it’s too dense, and it’s too close to Ingham Creek.
   Michael Carr, an attorney with the Doylestown firm Eastburn and Gray, presented the revised plan to Borough Council on Feb. 10 for developer George Michael. He appeared frustrated by the council’s stance in light of the fact his client was giving it what it once said it wanted — fewer condos than the 60-plus proposed by Mr. Michael’s original plan as well as lower roof lines.
   Mr. Carr noted the Planning Commission recently had given the new plan a favorable review. Council members, however, would not budge from their opinions.
   Council President Richard Hirschfield commended the improvements but noted more are needed.
   The Mechanic Street property "is the last major piece downtown," he said. "We will tread very carefully. We will make sure what we’re getting is what we want."
   The plan proposes a mean roof height of 49 feet, but borough regulations permit no higher than 35 feet.
   "The building will be sprinkled," Mr. Carr said, trying to allay fears over possible firefighting difficulties.
   Councilman Randy Flager responded, "I think one of the reasons we have the height requirement is for aesthetic reasons as well."
   Another worry for council members is the site’s proximity to the creek. Much of it lies within the flood plain, and a building there sits within 4 feet of the creek. That shouldn’t be a problem, Mr. Carr contended, because the lower portion of the building would be used for parking, not living space.
   Councilwoman Geri Delevich said the developer’s plan, if approved, would affect the health of Ingham Creek.
   "No study would convince me otherwise," she said, earning a smattering of applause from audience members.
   Ms. Delevich also expressed concern over the increased number of cars and traffic the plan would bring.
   "This town will lose its charm," she said.