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2004-08-20
Lower Makefield, PA. Citizens Negotiate End of Big Boxes in Plan

After at least five years of battle, residents in Lower Makefield, Pennsylvanis have managed this week to eliminate the threat of big boxes in a major developer's plans for their community. The Bucks County Courier Times called it a "tenative compromise", but the plan changes the so-called "Octagon Center" development from a big box project to housing. The group called Residents Against Matrix (RAM) through hard work and perseverance, turned a big box into a big victory against sprawl. The citizens and the developer, Matrix, of Cranbury, New Jersey, reached a "verbal agreement in principle." According to Gary Cruzan, a leader of RAM, age-restricted housing is now the major component of the compromise plan. The superstores and hotels that were part of the original plan that was accepted by the township supervisors have been eliminated, which in turn cuts down the traffic generated on the site by as much as 95 percent. Cruzan warned that the written agreement with Matrix could take as much as two months to finalize. So what began as a mixture of megastores, hotels, office buildings and smaller retail stores at Big Oak and Old Oxford Valley roads in Lower Makefield and Middletown., is now history. The town of Middletown never did approve the original plan, and was not likely to do so. During the review process, RAM took the developer to court, and tied the project in knots. With the court cases dragging on, and one community still not on board, Matrix had plenty of reasons to sit down and finally talk to the neighbors.

What you can do: There was no shortage of people who told RAM that they could not fight city hall, and that the Matrix project was a done deal. But the citizens hung in there, went to court, filed appeals, and sat down in good faith to negotiate. Their persistence was like alchemy, converting an unwanted, oversized project, into a reasonable project for its setting. For earlier stories on Lower Makefield, search this database by the name of the town.










 
 
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