Archive for December, 2011

Proposed Solar Farm & Veteran Housing

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Tuesday evening Rager Energy joined Barry Black and BKB Properties at the Hamilton Township zoning board meeting to propose a 10 MW solar installation.  Barry Black and his family have a comprehensive plan for cultivating low-lying crops under a section of the solar panels and donating four building lots to the Thomas Jerome House, a non-profit organization created to help disabled veterans after they return from war.

Crying Ain’t Going To Grow Anything Back (Video Of Tyler Southern)


HAMILTON — The township could become home to a third major solar site if a local developer wins approval to install 32,000 panels on a 64-acre tract of land.

Developer Barry Black proposes a so-called solar farm in Hamilton’s southeast corner, pitting residents in favor of more solar against those who want one of the township’s last rural areas to remain untouched by development.

“When I bought my house, this was supposed to be the last rural vestige in Hamilton, and I truly feel it should be kept that way,” said Harold Dunn, one of dozens of residents who showed up for a zoning board hearing Tuesday night.

Others, including a few electrical and construction workers, pointed out that a new development could provide jobs and tax dollars.

“The economy the way it is now — it’s terrible out there,” said a resident who works in the construction industry. “We need these jobs.”

Located on Crosswicks-Hamilton Square Road near the back entrance of the Hamilton Marketplace shopping center, the site is made up of two lots covered in fields, woods and wetlands.

Black and his company, BKB Properties LLC, envision covering those lots with thousands of crystalline, photovoltaic panels that would absorb sunlight and generate 10 megawatts of electricity to be fed back into the local power grid. To get an idea how much power 10 megawatts would provide, PSE&G’s national solar initiative called Solar 4 All aims to develop 80 solar megawatts, and that would be enough to power 13,000 average New Jersey homes.

The land BKB Properties is targeting is inside Hamilton’s rural resource conservation zone, so the company requires a use variance from the zoning board before any construction can begin.

The developer has also said he intends to subdivide the property and provide land to the Thomas Jerome House, a nonprofit organization looking to build housing for soldiers returning home with traumatic brain injuries.

But at Tuesday’s hearing, the board reviewed only the solar plan.

Michael Mueller, a planner testifying on behalf of Black, reminded zoners that renewable energy projects are considered inherently beneficial under state law.

That makes it easier for solar applications to pass local muster.

The zoning board has already approved two other solar facilities, a PSE&G project on South Broad Street and another on Yardville-Allentown Road that’s roughly the same size as Black’s proposed project.

“I think we do want to build upon what you looked at last year with the other two applications,” Mueller said. “We want to be better than those. We want to provide a better standard.”

The board came to no decision Tuesday night and the hearing was carried to a special meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 31.

Onion Flats Chosen

Friday, December 16th, 2011


Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Selects Rivage Developer

Onion Flats Chosen to Develop Residential and Retail in East Falls

Philadelphia, PA- The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) Board has selected local developer Onion Flats to develop the Rivage site in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.  The Onion Flats proposal “The Ridge” will bring 126 residential units and 8,700 square feet of retail to the currently vacant parcel bordered by Kelly Drive, Calumet Street and Ridge Avenue.

“Onion Flats has proposed an exciting development that will create a spectacular gateway to East Falls,” said PRA Executive Director Ed Covington. “The sustainability features will place “The Ridge” on the cutting edge of development, not just in Philadelphia but nationally.”

“The Ridge” will be a five-story building with one- and two-bedroom rental units.  The retail space will be located along Ridge Avenue and Calumet Street.  It will also include a 20,000 square foot community garden and a River Terrace along Kelly Drive.

“The Ridge” will also be Philadelphia’s first and the nation’s largest net zero energy mixed-use residential-retail community.  Net zero energy means that the development’s net energy consumption will be zero.  All energy required for heating, cooling, lighting and domestic hot water will be generated on site.

Other sustainability elements will include:

• Green roofs over 100 percent of the built area

• A 300 kilowatt photovoltaic solar array

• Parking for Zip Cars and charging ports for electric vehicles

• Interior bicycle storage for all residents

“The Ridge” is also expected to consume 50 percent less water than traditional developments.

“The design of “The Ridge” is unlike anything seen before in Philadelphia,” said Covington.  “It will completely transform the way Philadelphians view residential and retail development and set a new standard for our city.”

The PRA board approved preliminary selection of Onion Flats as the developer for the Rivage site at its December 5, 2011 board meeting.  PRA and Onion Flats have until June 2012 to enter into a full redevelopment agreement.  That agreement will include a final sales price for the parcel and the development’s specific design and sustainability features.  Construction will begin after all approvals are obtained and financing is in place. Construction is expected to start to early 2013.