Prestley Heights townhouses approved

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After nearly three years of legal disputes, Collier Commissioners granted developer Hiroo Patel unanimous approval Tuesday to build the first phase of his proposed Prestley Heights planned residential townhouse development.

Now, all he needs is a builder.

Mr. Patel said after the meeting that his builder, Heartland Homes, pulled out of the project several months ago citing repeated delays as the reason, Mr. Patel said.

"We worked so hard to get that approval," said Mr. Patel, a civil engineer who first brought his plan to Collier in January 2004.

He intends to construct 110 brick-and-siding townhouses at Prestley Street and Darlington Road in Collier and another 50 units in Carnegie on 46 acres he has owned since 1988.

Besides the townhouses, estimated to cost $150,000-$200,000, Prestley Heights is to contain a clubhouse, swimming pool and a homeowners' association. The plan would be accessed by Prestley Street and constructed in four phases, the last of which would be the units in Carnegie.

From the start, the Prestley Heights proposal met with resistance from Collier's Cubbage Hill residents, who worried about water management, traffic and emergency access in the cul-de-sac plan.

After township officials rejected tentative approval of the plan in July 2004, the developer appealed to Common Pleas Court and won. Collier appealed to the state Commonwealth Court, but the developer again prevailed in November 2005.

Though Mr. Patel had hoped to start constructing roads and infrastructure as soon as he received final approval, he said he will hold off doing so until he locates another builder.

He knows the real estate market has slowed lately, but believes there is a need for the type of housing he proposes.

"Eventually it will get done," Mr. Patel said. "It is my dream to build a nice community over there."

Carole Gilbert Brown is a freelance writer.


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