BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
MINUTES – OCTOBER 25, 2004
A special meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the
Board of Supervisors: Frank Fazzalore, Chairman
Pete Stainthorpe, Vice Chairman
Scott Fegley, Secretary/Treasurer
Grace Godshalk, Supervisor
Steve Santarsiero, Supervisor
Others: Terry Fedorchak, Township Manager
Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor
James Majewski, Township Engineer
Kenneth Coluzzi, Chief of Police
Mr. Joseph Taylor, Mr. Marc Brookman, and Mr. Russell Tepper, representing Matrix were present.
Mr. Garton stated the original Master Plan Agreement for Bellemead was approved on May 11, 1988. The first Amendment to that Plan was approved by the Board of Supervisors on December 4, 2000; and there were a number of approvals made subsequently. Various Appeals were filed which led eventually to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Approximately nine months ago meetings began with representatives from the Township, Ram, and Matrix to see if there could be a resolution. Mr. Garton stated the representatives for the Board of Supervisors have made it clear that they do not speak for the Township, and everything that is done must be approved at a public meeting by a majority of the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Taylor thanked the Township for allowing them to be present this evening and stated they appreciate the time and effort put into this project by RAM and the Board of Supervisors. He stated they have been involved in lengthy and expensive litigation regarding this project. This Sub-Committee was started approximately nine months ago, and they have been trying to find a consensus plan. They feel the Plan to be presented this evening does encompass shared goals. The only way they felt they could get to a mutual settlement was if everyone would give something and everyone would get the
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 2 of 15
minimum that would be acceptable to themselves and their constituents. He stated the Township wanted no diminution of the traffic improvements. He stated there were
$4 million to $5 million of offset improvements in the original Plan, and in this plan they show the same even though they have a dramatically lower traffic count at any hour due to the nature of the types of uses now proposed. He stated it was important to the Township that they have a high quality Project and that there be a mixture of uses including retail and office. They also did not want a diminution of ratables. They knew the concept of big box retail was not a high priority for the Township. He stated RAM was very concerned about the traffic improvements and traffic flow and the nature of those improvements and how they could be allocated. They were also very concerned about the big box retail as it relates to the traffic, cleanliness, stores possibly closing down and needing to be re-tenanted, etc. They also wanted a high quality project and something the Township would be proud of. Matrix needed to insure levels of economic investment.
Mr. Taylor stated they first looked at residential, non-age
restricted single-family housing, together with townhouses and condos; but it
was hard to predict the impact on
Mr. Taylor stated they would like to put the litigation
behind them and move forward on a project in a market that is somewhat
predictable rather than remaining in the Court for a number of years. They feel there is a strong market for this
mix of uses. They have been informed
that this is the consensus Plan of the Committee. He stated the specifics of everything are
beyond the scope of this Concept Plan being presented tonight. Tonight they would like to have the Board ask
the Solicitor to move forward to finalize a Settlement Agreement and come back
before the Board of Supervisors for Final Approval of a Settlement Agreement in
the future. He stated there have been
concerns about the upper left hand corner of the project that is in
Mr. Russell Tepper showed the previously-approved Plan shown only for comparison. The Concept Plan for a mixed use project is predominantly residential. The residential is all age-restricted. There will be no more than 600 residential units on the Plan with three types of homes – single family detached, single family attached, and multi-family condos. The exact shape, size, and density of each has not yet been determined, and the
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 3 of 15
Plan has not been engineered. It will incorporate a self-sustaining
community that includes recreational amenities including a clubhouse, pool,
tennis, etc. They will also have small
retail space in the amount of 15,0000 to 20,000 square feet at the Big Oak Road
intersection of the project as well as approximately 40,000 square feet of one
and two-story office buildings to be north of Big Oak Road. He stated there are significant benefits to
the Plan including the fact that all wetlands and natural resources will be
preserved on the site. All the
landscaping features along
The Developer will contribute an impact fee consistent with the impact fee they agreed to on the previous Plan.
Small copies of the Plan were distributed to the Board and the public.
Mr. Tepper stated there was concern raised during the
settlement negotiations with the
Mr. Tepper noted on the Plan where the various types of
residential uses are proposed to be located.
He also noted points of access including access for the single detached
A question was raised whether the Plan was available for review on a Website, and
Mr. Tepper stated if there is consensus for moving forward, it will be made available on a Website.
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 4 of 15
Mr. Tepper noted the final type of residential use which is
multi-family condominiums located in two areas on the Plan – in between the
wetlands to the north of
Mr. Tepper stated the property as a whole is accessed off of
He stated the Plan that was previously approved in
Mr. Tepper stated age-restricted development means the units will be owned by residents who are fifty-five years or older, and there can be no one under the age of nineteen residing in the home.
The fiscal impact of the project was discussed. Mr. Tepper stated they are equal to that which
was previously submitted. There should
be a net surplus to the Township after expenses associated with the various
Municipal services in excess of $135,000 to $145,000 a year. There will be no school-age children
generated from the project, and this project will result in $3 million in net
surplus to the
Mr. Tepper stated they have been working on this project through candid discussions since December of 2003 and there has been a lot of give and take. They made a promise eleven months ago that they would only come back before the Township if they could come up with a consensus and they feel they have done this.
Mr. Gary Cruzan, Mr. Mike Upton, and Ms. Dana Weyrick representing
RAM were present. Mr. Cruzan stated the
Plan that was arrived at is a compromise plan and involved a long
negotiation. They wanted to reduce the
environmental impact, eliminate big box retail, and dramatically reduce the
traffic. The big boxes have been
eliminated; and by doing so, they have eliminated 14,000 car trips a day. Currently they are proposing 15,000 square
feet of retail which will generate minimal traffic. The Plan also has 40,000 square feet of
garden office which will result in 200 employees as opposed to the 3,000
employees previously proposed. He stated
when these reductions are made you dramatically reduce the traffic. They feel the traffic impact from this
project has resulted in a 90% reduction in traffic. He stated they wanted to make sure that there
would be age-restricted housing so that it would have a positive impact on the
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 5 of 15
without any children being added, and the Township will receive $480,000 in revenue with a net revenue of $137,000 after all Municipal expenses. He stated Matrix had originally agreed to contribute $1.375 million to the Township in phases, and this will continue in this Plan.
Mr. Cruzan stated they also wanted the bridge to be
addressed because of the bottleneck at
Mr. Cruzan stated the perimeter of the site will be untouched and bermed and left in a natural state. They will also have the bikepaths and jogging trails. They also negotiated for the Park which they felt would be a good family park for picnics, family reunions, etc.
He stated there will be improvements on this land for use by
the public. Mr. Cruzan stated they also
moved the open space up to an area off of
Mrs. Godshalk asked if the Weiner property has been acquired
by Matrix. She noted the map shows that
it is included. Mr. Tepper noted the
location on the Plan and stated while it is painted green on the Plan, it is
not their property and they are not anticipating acquiring this property. He stated it was the location of the
Octagonal School House and it is not part of their Plan. Mrs. Godshalk noted an area of five acres
Mr. Tepper agreed to correct this in the future Plans.
Mr. Mike Upton stated as has been discussed, this is a compromise Plan; and they are pleased with the Plan in general and feel it is a dramatic improvement over the first Plan. He stated it is to Matrix’s credit that they were able to come to an agreement on the building permit funds that will be dedicated to the bridge improvement since this was an improvement RAM was pushing for since it will benefit the region. He stated in comparison to the previous Plan, this Plan is much greener and will have an entirely different look and feel from the previous Plan.
Mr. Fegley commended Matrix and RAM for participating in this process. He stated the process was a model of dispute resolution in situations such as this where all sides sat down and through long and difficult but good-faith conversations were able to reach a consensus. He feels they should focus on the present Plan and not the prior history.
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 6 of 15
He stated this is indeed a compromise Plan. He personally concurs with Mr. Cruzan and feels this is a dramatic improvement and RAM should be credited with trying to get the best deal for the Township and their constituents. He stated he does not feel anyone came this evening with an etched-in-stone Plan, and they welcome public input; however, he hopes that this Plan is able to proceed.
Mr. Fazzalore congratulated Matrix and RAM as well as the Supervisor representatives. He feels this is a good Plan.
Mr. Stainthorpe stated this has been a controversy for a number of years. He stated good Government is the art of compromise and in general he supports compromises; however the 600 units this will generate will make it one of the largest residential developments in the history of the Township. He stated they should carefully consider the wisdom of putting this on land that is zoned for commercial use. He stated they should also consider how this is going to be zoned if they proceed. He stated the Board of Supervisors must also consider that they need to plan the Township for the next twenty to fifty years and they need to discuss the wisdom of age-restricted housing and whether it will stay age-restricted housing in perpetuity. He stated at the current time this seems like a good idea; but they must consider what will happen when these units come up for sale and what will happen if there are no buyers in this age bracket and if these will be open to Court challenge.
Mrs. Godshalk stated she was the only vote against the
original Plan three years ago because at that time she felt there should have
been public hearings regarding the change to big box stores. She stated she does not feel anyone felt that
they were against commercial since commercial does help with ratables and the
three commercial centers they have in the Township do add to the ambience and
necessities of the Township residents.
She stated she feels they can sustain more commercial areas, and they
could have been sold a good commercial project in this area; however, it was
the big box stores which were of concern.
She stated she is not against age-restricted housing per se but feels
over 600 units in one area is too many.
She stated she looked at a community in
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 7 of 15
Mrs. Godshalk stated at one point they were told there would be 10,000 square feet of commercial and now she has heard it could be from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet.
Mr. Tepper stated they have not decided as yet, but it could
range between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet.
He stated they do not know who the end users will be and do not know how
the units will be designed. Mrs.
Godshalk stated 10,000 square feet of commercial is probably not sufficient to
service the needs of those residing in this new residential community. Mrs. Godshalk also stated there is currently
a problem crossing the Bridge; and if they add these proposed units and Middletown
development as well, she feels the Bridge should be done right away. She stated she feels it will cost more than
$1 million and noted that
Mrs. Godshalk stated Mr. Cruzan reported they would get $3.4
million for the
Mrs. Godshalk stated this information should have been divulged. Mr. Tepper stated as part of the discussions they have had over the past several months, they did an impact analysis for the project now proposed. Mrs. Godshalk stated she would like to see this information. Mr. Tepper stated they did share this information with the Committee.
Mrs. Godshalk stated she feels those figures should be included in any discussions.
Mr. Cruzan stated he did summarize this and it is all projected out. He stated the taxes coming out of this project are equal to the prior project approved, and the impact to the Schools is more positive than it was with the big box. Mrs. Godshalk stated she feels the cost to the Township will be much more with residential because those new residents will be calling the Township looking for services. Mr. Cruzan stated they did the analysis on a per capita unit and projected it out using the Municipal costs. They came up with a profit from all Municipal services of $137,000 annually. He stated they can make the reports showing this available. Mrs. Godshalk stated knowing what is happening daily in the Township regarding calls about sewer bulls, water bills, Police, etc. she feels there will be a higher impact with residential use than with commercial. Mr. Cruzan stated they did the Municipal cost per person that the Township is experiencing currently to come up with their figures. He stated this is only a conceptual discussion which is why they did not submit all the details.
Mrs. Godshalk stated she feels the price of the units should be told up front. Mr. Tepper stated they projected unit values for the three different type of housing: Condominium Units would range from the low to mid $200,000 per unit; Townhouses would range from the low to mid $300,000 per unit, and Single Family Detached units would be at the low $400,000 range. Mr. Taylor stated they are not trying to be evasive on specific prices and specific designs. They are trying to review the concepts and answer questions at this point. He stated they know there is a lot of work still to be done in the future. He stated the Committee does have the methodology on the units, the traffic analysis, etc.
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 8 of 15
Mrs. Godshalk stated the Committee includes only two Supervisors, and they need three votes for approval.
Mr. Fegley stated he and Mr. Fazzalore went into this with, as a minimum bar, that any new project had to have at least as favorable a financial impact as did the previously-approved project. He does not feel either RAM or the Township would support this Plan if there was a negative impact.
Mr. Santarsiero thanked Matrix, RAM, Mr. Fegley, and Mr.
Fazzalore for working on this matter. He
also thanked the public for their concern because he feels the original project
would have proceeded if not for the community response. He stated while he does echo some of the
concerns, particularly those voiced by Mr. Stainthorpe as to the future of
age-restricted housing and Mrs. Godshalk’s regarding the number of units
proposed, he feels this concept is better for the community in the long run
than would have been the big box stores.
He stated big box stores have been a problem with surrounding
communities when the big boxes go vacant for many years. He feels the fact that these are out of the
Plan is a tremendous accomplishment. He
stated he can only vote for something that has broad support in the
Township. He stated while they do not
have to discuss the details this evening, he is concerned with the
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 9 of 15
lanes both ways from the River to the new Interchange, they will have to expand this Bridge as well, and it would then be at PennDOT’s expense. He stated he would therefore prefer that the money from Matrix being considered for the Bridge come instead to the Township so that they can use it throughout the entire Township.
Mr. Fazzalore stated the $100,000 was never taken off the table. He stated it was decided that they would discuss it at a later time. He stated he and Mr. Fegley insisted that the Township’s original financial Agreement was in effect, and this included the $100,000. He stated he is not sure it will remain in the final analysis, but at this time it is still on the table. Mrs. Godshalk noted with regard to the original $100,000 proposed, that they recently had a study done on the cost of a new Police Officer; and it showed that including salary and benefits it would add up to $100,000 a year for one Officer. She stated they should also know how many of each type of units are planned. Mr. Taylor stated the Plan as shown indicates it would be one third of each type.
Mr. Taylor stated there have been disagreements over the years on the characterization of the $100,000. He stated he feels this was specifically for the added impact for the big box, although he recognizes that this is an item that was not agreed on by everyone. He stated they do not feel this project can solve all the problems that exist in the Township either budgetarily or for things like Bridges, etc. He stated this project can support the weight of its own burdens and does not require all of these items. He stated they could provide the fiscal impact analysis to all those interested. Mr. Santarsiero stated the reason Mrs. Godshalk brought up the $100,000 for a Police Officer is because the ratio for residents to Police Officers is under 1,000 to one; and if 1,000 to 1,200 residents are being added, they may have to add an additional Police Officer.
Mr. Stainthorpe asked how the Township will protect itself from someone who comes in and seeks a curative amendment because they feel the Township does not have enough commercial development in the Township which could result in big box stores at some other location in the Township. Mr. Brookman stated this was discussed and what is proposed would be part of a Settlement Agreement. The Township would either by right or Conditional Use provide for this particular use type in this District. As a result of adding it into the District, it is not the Township’s role to determine what other uses could get built, but they would have provided for every legitimate use in the Township. Mr. Taylor stated they were all very sensitive to this as were they to the issue of making sure that 55 and over stays 55 and over. He stated they feel they can build the strongest mechanisms by law to address these issues. Mr. Fegley stated the consensus also included that no party to the Agreement would mount any kind of curative amendment elsewhere in the Township. Mrs. Godshalk stated there are other developers besides Matrix.
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 10 of 15
Mr. Joe Menard,
Mr. Tepper stated they did an analysis which showed that the project would generate
approximately $460,000 in revenue to the Township under the new valuations. From that, there are a series of expenses which get subtracted and this netted approximately $137,000 to the Township yearly. Mr. Taylor stated $5 million was for road and intersection improvements, and these are remaining in place. He stated the $100,000 for the Police salary was already deducted before they got to the $137,000 net yearly.
Mr. Santarsiero stated Chief Coluzzi just advised him that they would have three shifts which could mean three Police Officers. Mr. Menard stated he still questions the numbers. Mr. Taylor stated this is a legitimate concern until they have the opportunity to review the methodology. Mr. Menard stated he is still concerned about the traffic impact as he feels with the change in use, it is simply pushing it to a different location and not really reducing it 90%. He feels the Yardley Corners residents would like to have more retail, and they have not provided enough for even the new residents.
Mr. Fegley stated with regard to the age-restricted issue and whether it could continue to remain age-restricted, he noted this use has been around for a few years; and although it has not been subjected to tremendous Court challenges, it is not without precedent. He stated he does not feel that they can wait to see if age-restriction will mature and go through Court challenges. He stated they can look at what has happened with open space preservation with the sale of development rights where a property owner agrees to put certain restrictions on a property. He stated the buyer makes the choice to buy with the acceptance of the risk that they may not be able to re-sell the property in the same market. He stated if you look at the history of litigation with respect to open space preservation, the Courts have held that the restrictions remain. He feels this will occur as well with age-restricted housing.
Mrs. Godshalk stated they have had age-restriction broken in the Township already as the first age-restricted development, Sutphin Pines, was broken by an attorney who had a young son. The rules were broken, and Sutphin Pines is no longer an age-restricted development.
Ms. Maureen Pelahaty, Arborlea, stated she cannot understand how they could take commercial property and not let people come in with commercial use when there was a need for retail in the Township and a need for ratables. She stated Mrs. Godshalk asked three to four times to get a cost on the units to be built. She stated now they are indicating they will be between $200,000 and $500,000. She stated she feels many of these residents will be professionals and will still be going to work so that they will generate traffic. She stated she is also concerned that if the age-restriction is lifted, it will
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 11 of 15
open it up to school age children coming in and the taxpayers will be involved again. She is also concerned with the number of units proposed.
Mr. Larry Borda,
Mr. Borda stated he is also confused about the potential for a challenge as he felt you had to change the zoning to allow for this to come in. Mr. Garton stated they need to look into the appropriate way so that they do not move the potential for big box to be at some other location.
Mr. Gordon Principie,
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 12 of 15
Mr. Garton stated there were discussions on the impact of school children, and this information could be provided later.
Mr. Taylor stated Mr. Rogers should comment on the $5 million figure that was previously discussed and the impact now that they are going lower in density on traffic.
Mr. Robert Rogers, President of Orth Rogers, was present and
stated he started working on this project in 1985. He noted the northernmost access point which is
for right turns in and out only. The
access at Tall Pines opposite Yardley Corners is proposed for a signal as it
was previously. There will be major
improvements at the intersection with
Ms. Lisa Pflaumer, Middletown Township Supervisors, stated
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 13 of 15
Mr. Zachary Rubin,
Mr. Anthony Bush,
He is concerned with the amount and allocation of Matrix’s financial contribution to the Township. He stated the Township originally insisted that Matrix would abide by the financial contributions in the original Plan, and he is concerned that the $100,00 in perpetuity is no longer on the table and has been reduced to a lump sum of approximately $1 million to be put in escrow. Mr. Fazzalore stated the $100,000 is not off the table.
Mr. Bush stated he is characterizing Matrix’s comments. He stated neither Matrix’s nor RAM’S traffic engineers have indicated the Bridge is necessary; and in fact, RAM’s traffic engineer indicated that it was not necessary. He feels they should not put the money into this escrow account. He stated if there is an Agreement that the money should be used for the community, they could put it toward a Community Center or put it in the General Fund. He feels to put it toward a Bridge which RAM’s expert has indicated is not necessary, should not be done. He stated nothing has been shown indicating that the Bridge is necessary.
Ms. Weyrick stated RAM negotiated this because they were
looking at this as a regional project.
She stated this was done once Mr. Bush was no longer involved in the
process. She stated this Bridge could
cost $3.3 million, and $1 million would help get the project done. Mr. Santarsiero stated if the Bridge is
unnecessary and Matrix is willing to contribute $1 million for other purposes
other than the Bridge, then the Township should not be constrained to put it
toward something that RAM’s own expert has indicated is not necessary. Mr. Santarsiero stated RAM’s expert indicated
this Bridge was not needed. Mr. Upton
stated they have had this discussion for years.
While there may not have been agreement from expert opinion, which RAM
contested all along, they felt the Bridge did pose an obvious bottleneck
especially considering future development along
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 14 of 15
similar size bridge –
Mr. Mel Ozoik, Sutphin Pines, stated over fifty-five should be seriously considered.
He stated Sutphin Pines was an over fifty-five community, and regrettably it is no longer restricted because of a lawyer taking it to Court. He stated there is always a way around
the over fifty-five restriction. He stated currently there is a need for this
type of use and probably for the next ten years; but after that there is “baby
boom bust.” Mr. Fazzalore stated on a
National level, the population of the
Mr. Cal Marshall,
Mr. Barry Wood,
Mr. Dick Cylinder,
of any of the Zoning Ordinances or Comprehensive Plan of the Township. He asked when the people will have an opportunity to review the Plan. Mr. Fazzalore stated this
is only a conceptual plan, and the Township plan review process will still take place.
Mr. Stainthorpe stated when the Township Master Plan was revised approximately a year ago, the Planning Commission suggested that perhaps age-restricted housing may be a better use for this Plan. They will need to create a Zoning Ordinance in the Township and be very thoughtful about it. He stated it should not be an Ordinance created just for this project and should be an Ordinance that works anywhere in the Township. He stated this will involve public input as well. He stated the Matrix project will still go through the Land Development process. Mr. Cylinder stated they will have to have the Ordinance in order before that. and the Board of Supervisors agreed.
Ms. Helen Gausly,
She thanked all involved for working hard on this project.
October 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – page 15 of 15
Mr. Dave Shuster,
Mr. Bill Taylor, Yardley Corners, asked the height of the single-family units and
Mr. Tepper stated they will be one-story units. He stated some do have lofts.
Mr. Virginia Torbert stated she supports the compromise and
thanked everyone involved. She stated
she feels it would be better to have the land to be donated to the Township back
up to some of the other open space which would make it a more appropriate
setting for a Park. She noted a location
where the open space could front on
Mr. Mike Cain,
Mr. Fazzalore stated this matter will be discussed further in the future. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.
Scott Fegley, Secretary