70-home development proposed in Warwick Township

Michael Yoder//September 9, 2019

70-home development proposed in Warwick Township

Michael Yoder//September 9, 2019

With the housing market still strong in Lancaster County, a Manheim Township-based developer is looking to build dozens of homes just north of Lititz in Warwick Township.

A preliminary plan was presented Wednesday morning at the Warwick Township Supervisors meeting for a development at 750 Orchard Rd. that could add as many as 70 homes. Hess Home Builders is proposing the project.

Chris Venarchick, a client manager with RGS Associates Inc. of Lancaster, that is handing the land design, presented the project, saying the goal was to introduce the concept and receive preliminary feedback from the supervisors.

The property is approximately 49 acres zoned for single family residential and currently consists of multiple parcels that would be consolidated for the project and eventually subdivided into 15,000-square-foot lots, Venarchick said. He said there could be as many as 70 lots on the property.

Randy Hess, president of Hess Home Builders, said the homes would range in the mid-$300,000, depending on the site work and related costs. The anticipated price tag is the affordable range for new homes in Warwick Township, he said.

The initial plan includes installation of several public streets and connections to the township’s public sewer and water system.

There are several features on the property that make it less than ideal to build on, Venarchick said, including a PPL transmission line that bisects the land, very narrow frontage along Orchard Road, rolling and steep hills and dense woods on the eastern half. But demand for local housing is high, he said.

“We know this is a very challenging project as far as what is out there,” he said. “We started with, ‘Ok, how do we work with what we have on the property and lay out a subdivision that would honor the ordinance as much as we can in the R-1 zone?’”

Warwick Township Manager Dan Zimmerman said a study conducted on the property in 2017 found significant water and sewer upgrades would be needed to meet regulations.

The township’s planning commission also suggested that the steep-sloped wooded area to the east of the property be preserved for water runoff into a nearby creek, he said.

Michael Fyock, who owns a farm adjacent to the site, said he was concerned water runoff onto his land, which has already been impacted by other building projects around his property.

Hess acknowledged the concerns and said revisions to the project will be looked at.

“Every site has hair on it, so to speak,” he said. “This one’s certainly no different.”

Homebuyers in Lancaster County are looking for “traditional single-family lots,” Hess said, but finding land available to build for the demand is becoming more difficult. Hess said that has forced developers to look at properties that normally wouldn’t have been considered in the past because of enough available land.

Hess said having to look at land that is harder to develop has also increased costs because of federal building regulations.

“What’s driving up the costs in residential construction is not the vertical construction; it’s all horizontal,” Hess said. “It’s all in the regulations and the site work. That’s what is making it difficult to build anything affordable. And that’s not unique to Lititz or anywhere in Central Pennsylvania.”