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Stokesay plans discussed at Mount Penn Preserve Partnership

The Mount Penn Preserve Partnership recently heard concerns about the latest plans by Stokesay Castle property owner Jack Gulati.

Gulati’s controversial plans include a proposal to build a 328-unit luxury apartment complex of 13 four-story buildings on his approximately 30-acre Stokesay property.

A couple of Lower Alsace Township residents voiced concerns about the traffic impact up and down the mountain and potential stormwater runoff from logging especially for those living at the base of the hill.

Matt Brophy, chairman of the partnership’s Environmental/Land Use Committee, said Gulati has many variances to work through before going to the township zoning hearing board with updated plans.

“A zoning board hearing has not yet been scheduled,” Brophy said.

Lee Olsen of Olsen Design Group Architects said he is a member of the Gulati team and has come up with a concept design.

Olsen is also a member of the Berks County and Reading planning commissions.

Olson said he shares the concerns about the project.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Lower Alsace officials and Great Valley Consultants will make sure everything is legal,” Olson said.

“Nothing will be done that will not be approvable. Gulati is using the right people. They will follow rules and regulations. There are a lot of hurdles to cross and the only way a project can move forward is to follow the rules and preserve integrity at all costs,” Olsen said.

Township Manager Don Potteiger said he asked Berks County Conservation District Executive Director Dean Druckenmiller to keep an eye on reports of trees being cut down, but Druckenmiller reported that he had no concerns. Druckenmiller lives near the property.

Officials don’t expect a next step until at least November.

“There’s a long way to go until a shovel can be stuck into the ground,” Potteiger said.

Joe Boyle, chairman of the Source Water Protection Committee, had two concerns.

No. 1: Well-head protection.

“Stormwater events are increased when deforestation begins and it only magnifies the sediment downhill,” Boyle said.

Carsonia Park already has sediment on the bottom of Crystal Lake. Where the water was once 10 feet deep, it is now only 2 or 3 feet deep, he said.

The No. 2 concern is that the construction would jeopardize efforts to restore Carsonia Park, which are underway.

Partnership Chairman and Berks County Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhart said Lower Alsace is in the driver’s seat with what’s taking place.

“Stay tuned to this,” Barnhardt said.


Source: Berkshire mont

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