Montco Planning Commission report shows signs of growth

NORRISTOWN — The Montgomery County Planning Commission released its 2013 summary report that shows the number of requests for review was higher last year than in previous years.

“What this report does is it looks at the submissions that come into our office over the course of a year — any land development, subdivision, even code amendments that come into our office under Act 247 of the state code. This collects all the date from those reviews and sees what’s happening in the county,” senior planner Scott France said.

The core function of the county planning commission is to accept proposals for zoning and respond in what is called an Act 247 letter, which gives comments on the proposed plan.

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The number of those submissions to the planning commission increased by nearly 100 in 2013, the second straight year of growth for such requests.

The report also states the number of acres municipalities and developers are interested in developing has increased significantly in the past decade.

France told the planning commission the number of proposals for residential development has reached its highest level since 2005. He said a number of the proposals were for apartment complexes for people interested in taking the train into the city for work every day.

“This was partly due to a robust market for apartment rentals in the Philadelphia region, as over 2,000 multifamily units were proposed,” the report reads.

The two largest of those proposals were both apartment projects along the waterfront in Conshohocken. The report also states there were large apartment development proposals in Upper Providence, Lansdale, Souderton and Ambler.

Nonresidential land development proposals rose in 2013 as well. The planning commission considers four different non-residential proposals: commercial, industrial, institutional and office. The report states that continued improvement in the economy should result in an increase in non-residential proposals. The report states that 93 percent of proposals were located in designated growth areas in the county.

The yearly summary report only takes into consideration proposals for review. It does not count construction projects that have started. It also does not include development proposals that did not come to fruition.

The planning commission should be releasing a report in the next couple of months on activity during the first two months of 2014.