WillowBrook Farm development plan includes historic preservation, open space
Editor’s note: This article reflects information presented to the Northampton Borough Planning Commission on land adjacent to the development proposed for the North Catasauqua portion of Willow Brook Farm.
As the words “Willow Brook Preservation Project” flashed on a screen at the March 8 meeting of Northampton Borough Planning Commission, details emerged for plans to build 67 single-family homes on a portion of the adjacent golf course.
Robert J. Dwyer, of Landtrust Properties Inc., led a PowerPoint presentation that offered specifics on the plan, which, in addition to housing, includes shops and the preservation of a historic barn and a mansion.
The property is located just off Howertown Road in the borough’s R-1 residential zoning district.
Mentioning frequently during his presentation that Fuller Family Preservation Trust welcomes public input on its overall plans, including providing tours of the grounds, Dwyer said the focus is on preservation of the historic aspect of the sprawling estate, Willow Brook Farm, which once was 1,600 acres.
Dwyer provided the planning commission an overview of the 19th-century Willow Brook property, stating the large trees on Howertown Road that frame the golf course would not be affected, but nine holes of the 18-hole golf course would be eliminated; however, the area near the Catasauqua Creek forever would be preserved as open space, Dwyer said.
The next step for the proposed single-family-home project is for the developer to return to the planning commission with final plans.
The planning commission, if a recommendation is made to continue, will then forward the project to borough council for its review and action. No such timetable was mentioned.
While a portion of the Fuller Family Preservation Trust project is in Northampton, between East Fourth Street and Greenview Drive, the developer plans to partner with another developer to erect 152 single-family residences in North Catasauqua.
Since the sketch plans indicate the project is in an R-1 zoned district, the plans do not require zoning board approval in Northampton.
The housing development would be accessed from Howertown Road and would not be gated.
Dwyer said the developer has an idea of building three-story apartments on the east side of the tract, located in Allen Township.
Fuller Family Preservation Trust has set aside 10 acres in Allen Township for a berm on Willowbrook Road, not only to minimize the anticipated noise from the FedEx Ground distribution hub under construction nearby, but also to separate its holdings from the site.
“Preservation is very important to us,” Dwyer said of keeping a large area of the expansive property intact.
Included in the proposal are converting the Fuller mansion into a bed-and-breakfast in the future and an old barn into a clubhouse, adding a restaurant and pro shop for the golf course, transforming garages into shops and adding walkways to connect the estate’s areas of interest.
The horse farm will be retained, Dwyer said, adding the Nor-Bath Trail could be incorporated into the overall plans.
Dwyer said Fuller Family Preservation Trust is open to all ideas and suggestions.
“We want to engage the public,” Dwyer said of Fuller Family Preservation Trust’s intentions to have the public part of the expansive project as it unfolds.