It was one of the most controversial development proposals in the history of Lower Moreland Township.
Developer W. Joseph Duckworth's plan to build a walkable, mixed-use village in the affluent eastern Montgomery County municipality stirred nearly four years of debate and numerous redraftings before township approval was granted in 2004.
In that time, opponents packed township meetings by the hundreds, urging rejection of what was at the time a new building concept for Pennsylvania and New Jersey - known as a traditional neighborhood development, or TND.
For Duckworth, "the ultimate compliment," if not outright vindication for the Woodmont development, is perhaps now finally his.
It is the star of the township's Web site, four of its stone-and-siding Colonials stripped across the top of the Lower Moreland home page. The page was discovered by accident recently by one of Duckworth's staffers who was visiting the Web site for information.
"I have no interest in gloating," an overjoyed Duckworth, president of Arcadia Land Co., of Wayne, said yesterday. "All I want to say is I'm delighted."
Then he said plenty more, rattling off a string of accomplishments for the $77.5 million development:
85 of its planned 120 homes are occupied.
26 of the lots were sold last year, and 11 more have been taken so far this year - even in the throes of the nation's housing crisis.
Woodmont now includes a commercial complex with a coffee shop, an Italian restaurant, and law offices.
He called the premier billing on Lower Moreland's Web site "the icing." Given the project's contentious early years, it is "a nice little irony," Duckworth said.
The Woodmont naysayers contended that houses built close together on tiny lots would never sell and would bring down the value of surrounding neighborhoods.
They denounced alleys - where Duckworth wanted to confine such unappealing lifestyle activities as trash pickup - as places where people in Philadelphia "are killed." And they worried that fire trucks and school buses would maneuver through streets that would be four to eight feet narrower than thoroughfares in standard suburban developments.
Woodmont came to symbolize the rigors of getting communities in this region to accept development that deviated from the norm, even when such trends were becoming wildly popular in other parts of the country, as TNDs were back when Duckworth proposed the concept in Lower Moreland in 2000. The Inquirer chronicled Woodmont's stormy origins in a three-part series in May 2001.
Francis J. Devinney vividly recalls those heated times. He was, and still is, one of the township's six commissioners, now serving as board president. Built on nearly 48 acres at Byberry and Heaton Roads, about 15 acres of which have been protected as open space, Woodmont is in Devinney's ward and has "turned out to be a very nice project," he said yesterday, while confessing ignorance on how Woodmont came to be featured on the township home page.
That was the call of Randee Elton, Lower Moreland's assistant manager. Having joined the township in October, Elton was not aware of Woodmont's long and testy history when she gave it such a place of Web prominence.
"It was just put up there as a pretty picture," she said yesterday.
But it probably will not last.
"That picture will be changed periodically," Elton said, to give the site "a fresh look."