By Rob Heyman
For Digital First Media
UPPER MORELAND >> The Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA now can move ahead with its plans to construct a new 100,000-square-foot YMCA facility off Davisville Road in the township.
The township’s board of commissioners passed a resolution Monday night granting what is technically referred to as preliminary/final approval for the project. Monday’s commissioners meeting closed a lengthy review process that began more than a year a half ago.
Before signing off on the project, the board first had to consider 23 separate waivers requested by the developers. Most of the requests were waivers to requirements under the township’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO) that govern such things as landscaping, parking, stormwater management, vegetative buffering, spacing and other regulated features tied to proposed developments.
It is not unusual for a project of the YMCA’s size to seek a large number of waivers — even some minor in nature — to a municipality’s SALDO. A governing body can approve the waivers to move the project forward if it feels the requests support the project and the integrity of the environment in a positive way and do not compromise the SALDO.
The YMCA waivers already had received considerable attention by Upper Moreland officials, particularly in early meetings of the Upper Moreland Community Development Committee.
The 23 waivers were approved with limited additional discussion by the board of commissioners Monday. Commissioner Kip McFatridge abstained from all votes on the waivers because, he said, his employer has a contract with the YMCA.
The proposed YMCA will be built at 3400 Davisville Road at the site of the Willow Grove Day Camp and will consolidate the aging Hatboro and Abington branches. It is expected to cost $30 million.
The two-story facility calls for a variety of recreational facilities and services, including indoor and outdoor pools, a gymnastics center, a full-size basketball gym and an indoor track. The YMCA will have approximately 605 parking spaces, with vehicles entering the facility at an entrance to be constructed on Davisville Road.
Traffic and pedestrian safety along Davisville Road and nearby intersections at Terwood and Byberry roads have remained concerns with the project. The approved resolution mandates improvements to the Terwood and Byberry intersections to alleviate the expected stress on Davisville Road.
According to officials with YMCA, the new facility is expected to generate approximately 200 cars on average during peak hours of operation. A traffic impact fee of $446,000 is mandated in the approved resolution. That fee will be recalculated once traffic projections have been determined and a building permit issued for the a 13,000-square-foot addition to the YMCA once it is completed.
Also noted in the resolution is that at least 5 acres of the 35-acre site will be maintained as open space and that trails will be made available there for public use. The project also calls for construction of a 4-foot-wide shoulder along the eastern side of Davisville Road between Terwood Road and the driveway access for use by pedestrians and bicyclists.
While passage of the resolution clears the project for construction, many of the roadway improvements in particular are still subject to approval by PennDOT through its Highway Occupancy Permit process.
Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA anticipates a grand opening for the new facility in January 2019.