New plans are in the works for two long-discussed projects in Derry Township: the Hershey West End project and the Governor Crossing project.
After months of negotiation between Hershey Trust representatives and Derry Township supervisors, the amended master plan for the Hershey West End project – a 245-acre, mixed use residential development to be built between Waltonville and Bullfrog Valley roads – was approved at the June 14 meeting of the Derry Township Board of Supervisors.
Board chairman Chris Abruzzo made the motion to adopt the decision.
“Seeing as this has been the process of three public hearings, you know it’s at least been well-vetted,” Abruzzo joked, earning a laugh from Trust representatives in the audience. “I’ve lost track, we’ve had so many, but it seems like we got to a place that we were comfortable with after a lot of back and forth.”
The Hershey Trust Company’s previous amended plan, proposed in February, raised apartment units from 462 to 528 and lowered townhouse units from 146 to 84. In the current plan, the number of total units remains at 919, but will no longer swap out townhomes for more apartments.
Instead, the plan will concentrate population density closer to West End Avenue, the project’s downtown, by migrating a number of dwelling units from one area labeled “K” to another one labeled “J” (above). This will also maintain the proper mix of housing types allowed under township zoning laws.
A Double-Edged Sword
A master plan like the one for Hershey West End acts more like a guideline than an outline. As a result, it’s a double-edged sword: developers have more “latitude” when it comes to design and can adapt accordingly, but the township also has less control over future changes.
Ken Gall, Director of Real Estate for the Trust Company, said the choice to propose more apartments was due to housing and rental market shifts, in which rising costs of single-family homes have driven a need for multi-family housing.
“There’s not a lot of opportunity for additional development,” Gall said at a Feb. 22 public hearing. “If you’re looking to buy a lot for a single-family house today, you can’t find it.”
Gall explained that the goal of the project is to build a community that feels more “like a town” by ensuring high walkability, lessening the need for cars. The hope is also that its proximity to the Med Center will entice a younger demographic of working non-homeowners to live in Derry Township instead of commuting.
“Can we create something where there’s a reason folks want to live in Derry Township rather than drive a car and live outside of it?” he asked.
At that time, Board Chair Chris Abruzzo told The Sun, “We’re just really concerned with this transition from 62 townhouses to 62 apartments. If you keep making those kinds of changes through each phase and we don’t have the ability to stop it, eventually it’s just going to become a big apartment complex.”
Following Hershey West End, Emerick revealed that a new conditional use plan has been submitted for Governor Crossing, the Linlo Properties site at the southwest corner of Governor and Fishburn roads.
The project, slated to include commercial buildings like a Sheetz store, will be discussed at a planning committee meeting July 26.
For almost 20 years, plans for the site – and the breadth of them – have evolved according to the changes of ownership, first from James “Jim” Nardo in 1993, to Hershey Pharmacy owner Chuck Kray in 2006, and then, to Linlo Properties in 2022.
However, one detail is expected to stay the same in the new conditional use plan: The relocation of the northern end of Sandhill Road and an installed traffic signal at Fishburn Road.
“I didn’t even look at the New Governor Crossing (plan) that just came in yet,” Emerick told The Sun, “but I’m going to assume that no, none of that’s changed.”
The board also voted to extinguish a plan submitted by Nardo for the property located at 636 Fishburn Drive, which was approved by the township in 2004.
This won’t affect the future planning of Governor Crossing, said Emerick, given that the property is encompassed by around 12 other properties included in the project today.