Plymouth’s Zoning Hearing Board rejects special exception for apartments at Plymouth Meeting Mall

On September 21st, Plymouth Township’s Zoning Hearing Board voted 5-0 to reject an application for a special exception that would allow PREIT, the owner of the Plymouth Meeting Mall, to construct a 503 unit apartment community on the mall property. The board held a series of 10 hearings over several months to consider the application.

The final hearing on September 21st was held to allow for public comment and give the parties involved the opportunity to give closing arguments. The attorney for PREIT, Marc Kaplin, argued that the language within the zoning code for the shopping center zoning district allows apartments because they are in the “same general character” of permitted uses such as motels and assisted living facilities.

Attorney Peter Amuso, who represented Plymouth Township, which opposed the application, argued that the board could not approve the application because it did not meet three of the five conditions necessary to approve a special exception such as being unduly burdensome to the sewer system.

Amuso also cited a decision by the township’s council in 1980 to remove apartments as a use in the shopping center zoning district. He argued that the zoning hearing board was not a legislative body and shouldn’t approve a special exception for a use that the council purposely removed.

In public comment, five residents spoke against granting the special exception. The big concern was increased traffic.

If it chooses, PREIT can now appeal the decision to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.

More to come.