TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD
PLANNING COMMISSION
MINUTES - SEPTEMBER 27, 1999

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on September 27, 1999. Chairman Pazdera called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

Those present:

Planning Commission:

John Pazdera, Chairman

 

Edward Koch, Vice Chairman

 

Deborah Gould, Secretary

 

Paul Gunkel, Member

Others:

Terry Fedorchak, Township Manager (left meeting in progress)

 

Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection, & Planning

 

John Koopman, Township Solicitor

 

William Briegel, Township Engineer

 

Frank Fazzalore, Supervisor Liaison

Absent:

Albert Roeper, Planning Commission Member

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Mr. Gunkel moved, Mr. Koch seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of August 23, 1999 as written.

PRESENTATION ON EDGEWOOD VILLAGE HISTORIC DISTRICT

Ms. Marybeth Carter of March Associates was present. She stated she has been working with a Citizen Advisory Group on design guidelines for the Edgewood Village Historic District. She noted this is not a finalized product but is a study in progress. They would like comments from the Planning Commission this evening and will then incorporate them into their final work.

Ms. Carter stated there are thirty-two historic buildings in the Village. She stated the Village lacks a clear sense of place and a visual definition. She stated development outside the Village is also intruding into the Village.

Ms. Carter stated the group met to explore what they envisioned for the future of the Village, They reviewed three options. The first option was to keep the Village as it is currently which would not include public sewers and would not encourage development. They also looked into the concept of a Specialty Village with a regional draw such as the local "Peddler’s Village." The third option was for a "Main Street" option. Options two and three would require public sewers. Ms. Carter stated the first option was rejected because it was felt the Village as it exists currently is not flourishing and is not addressing development for the future. Option two was also rejected because of the small size of the Village. The Committee decided to proceed with a strong "Main Street" approach.

Ms. Carter presented a slide show which demonstrated the assets and constraints of the Village as well as examples from other townships with they developed Villages.

Ms. Carter showed a board indicating the Village is the perfect size for walkability. She also noted the two main nodes which are potential gathering places and the five entrances to the Village. Ms. Carter presented a board which showed how they could break the Village into Character Districts - Rural, Community Service, "Main Street," Residential Village where additional homes could be added, and a Buffer District which could be woodland buffers or additional commercial development.

Ms. Carter stated in the rural area the street should remain a two-lane street with an asphalt path through the woodlands. She stated she would also recommend a buffer zone across from the Jessie Palmer House. Ms. Carter stated the parcel across the street form the Jessie Palmer House is currently zoned commercial and is in litigation. She feels this should be a residential parcel; however, if it must be developed as commercial, there should be a woodland buffer between any new development and the Jessie Palmer House to preserve the visual character of the road. She stated if development does take place on this tract, it should be fronted on the Park. In the Community Services District they would like to stay with commercial service type of uses. They would recommend parallel parking on Edgewood Road and sidewalks, and would recommend there be development of the Park. In the Main Street section, they would recommend parallel parking and parking behind the buildings. They recommend alleys be constructed between buildings for pedestrian access and buildings be constructed next to the Park for a restaurant use or residential. In the Residential area, they would like to see infilling of residential units to match existing residential units. In the I-95/Visual Buffer District, they would consider additional buffers and possibly an office complex at the I-95 area to help cut down on the noise from I-95.

Ms. Carter stated the Committee looked at the vacant land and found there is much more land than there are buildings. She showed how density could be added which would make it more like a Village. She stated they feel sewers should eventually come to the Village because of existing public health concerns. She stated public sewer and water would be required if they are to infill the Village.

Ms. Carter showed an enlargement of the Village with potential additions to the Village shown. She noted the proposal is to push buildings closer to the road to develop a Village feeling. She stated they would like to see a mix of residential units but where there are existing homes, the new development should be similar in character to the existing homes.

Ms. Carter stated the Day Care Center is an intrusion, and she would recommend that the parking be moved to the rear of the property and the front portion could be sold as small residential units adjacent to the street. She stated additional residences would help make the commercial development more successful. She noted they could use open space land currently owned by the Township to provide additional residences, although they would have to replace this open space/woodland with other open space/woodland elsewhere in the Township.

Ms. Carter noted additional accesses she would recommend to the commercial property currently in litigation which was discussed earlier this evening. She stated this would help preserve the rural character of the area provided this commercial development fronts on the Park.

Ms. Carter showed plans for streetscapes which show where sidewalks, parking, landscaping, and lighting could be placed. She stated they would have to have interim proposals for walkways, etc. prior to development since it is not possible to install all of these items up front. She stated in the future they would like to see the utility lines

underground.

A board showing design details was also shown.

Ms. Carter stated they also discussed phasing and right-of-way acquisition. She stated if they decide at some point to provide public sewers to Edgewood Village, they will have to do some right-of-way or easement acquisition at that time, and possibly sidewalks could be installed at that time as well.

Ms. Carter stated they did discuss financing. She stated some of the re-development opportunities do present financial opportunities to the landowners in the area. She noted it would be possible for landowners to subdivide their properties although this would not be a requirement. She noted particularly the Day Care Center and stated if they were to get ten residential units, they would then have to pay for the street development in front of their property. She noted T-21 does offer Grant money for towns with connections to mass transportation or walkability.

Mr. Gunkel stated the plans being presented are well in excess of what is permitted in the Historic Village. He stated a good percentage of what is being discussed is outside of the Historic Village. Ms. Carter agreed they did look at parcels adjacent to the Village. Mr. Gunkel stated he feels they should present a Plan of what can be done under the existing Ordinance. He noted none of the residential units being proposed could be built under the current Ordinance. Ms. Carter stated they would have to make changes to the Ordinances. Mr. Gunkel noted particularly the Day Care Center which is not in the Village. He noted if homes were built in this area, they would have problems with impervious surface. He stated the only way the Plan will work is if the people in the area want it to work. Ms. Carter agreed. Mr. Gunkel stated nothing will happen in this area without public sewers. Mr. Gunkel stated the Township has spent a substantial amount of money to purchase open space so they can limit the number of houses which could be built in the Township which would result in additional children in the schools, and now they are proposing additional houses. Ms. Carter stated this would be directed development and would be anti-sprawl. She noted the unit types proposed could be designed such that they would not be child-friendly. Mr. Gunkel stated the main intersection in the Village already has a substantial number of cars passing through it, and they are now recommending walking paths and paved parking which he does not feel will fit. Ms. Carter stated in some areas they cannot have parallel parking. She noted the volume of traffic going through the Village is tremendous but this could be an advantage to a Main Street and could help businesses in the area succeed. She stated there is a problem with speed, and they would want to slow down the traffic and parallel parking would do this. She noted in 80% of the Village they can get the streetscapes she has designed. Ms. Carter stated she has outlined the Zoning changes which would need to be made.

Mr. Koch asked if the Township is planning to design this and then get developers to come in and develop the Township plan. Ms. Carter stated the Master Plan does call for a design for the Village. She stated she feels they should hire a Planning Consultant on behalf of the  Township to review developments that come in to develop in this area to make sure that they are developing in accordance with the final plan which is adopted. She added if the Township develops the Park and streetscapes, she feels this will present an incentive to developers to come in.

Mr. Fazzalore stated he was very impressed with the proposal and does feel they should change the Ordinance so that they can proceed with these plans. He stated he feels this could bring some character to the community.

Mr. Fedorchak asked if the Character Districts should be considered sub-Districts within a new Historic/Commercial District, and Mr. Koopman stated he felt they would have to do this. Ms. Carter stated she does feel the Character Districts are an important part of the District as a whole.

Mr. Koopman noted Mr. Murphy’s presence in the audience, noting he is the attorney for the property owner of the parcel of land in the Village currently in litigation. He noted if that property owner prevails in the Court, his development will not be consistent with what is being shown on this plan. Ms. Carter stated she understands this property owner is the same one who developed Heston Hall, which she feels is a wonderful facility; and she feels they could work with that individual on development of this property. She stated the main entrance should be on Edgewood Road and not opposite the Jessie Palmer house.

Mr. Pazdera asked how traffic volumes in this area compare to the other areas she has looked at. Ms. Carter stated she has not done traffic counts and feels a traffic study would have to be done by a traffic consultant. She stated she does recognize that the traffic volumes are high.

Mrs. Gould stated she felt this was a marvelous plan but they must convince the current property owners of the benefits of the plan. Ms. Carter stated she feels the best way would be to show them the financial opportunities. She stated they would not be required to subdivide their parcels but it could be offered as a possibility to them.

Mr. Gunkel asked if Ms. Carter will be putting together a cost plan, and Ms. Carter stated she is going to do this, particularly for the interim sidewalk plan.

Mrs. Gould asked how detention basins would be addressed. Ms. Carter stated she has not addressed this, but will look into it.

Mr. Koopman asked if there is room for parking behind existing buildings, and Ms. Carter stated there is room.

Mrs. Godshalk noted she is aware of high density areas were downspouts are connected directly into the storm sewer itself. Ms. Carter stated they may have to find a regional solution.

Mr. Stephen Heinz stated he is a member of HARB and of the Committee which worked on this plan. He stated the Historic Registry Historic District is different than the Historic Zone. He stated he feels the Township should plat the land in the commercial area and could even sell it to the developer and then use the proceeds for other land or fix up the other remaining Patterson property. Mr. Fazzalore stated there could be problems because of what was signed on the Patterson Farm deed. Mr. Heinz stated the Master Plan is a direction. He also noted retention of water could be handled under parking lots.

Mr. Fedorchak left the meeting at this time.

#495 - STEWART’S FIELD AT YARDLEY FINAL PLAN APPROVAL

Mr. Murphy was present and stated the Board of Supervisors approved the Preliminary Plan in the summer. He noted the 9/16/99 PCS letter and does not feel any of the items pose any problems. He stated they will comply with Item #1 and the easement has been prepared and forwarded to Mr. Stewart’s counsel who indicated it was in order. They will comply with Item #2 and they did receive the letter from CKS dated 9/10/99. They will comply with all items in that letter. Item #3 was noted and Mr. Murphy stated they did submit the required information to the Bucks County Conservation District on 8/16/99 and the approval is pending. They will comply with Items #4 through #6. With regard to Item #7, Mr. Murphy stated they did receive a letter from PCS and revisions were submitted to PCS and they will comply. They will comply with Item #8.

Mr. Pazdera noted the letter form the Fire Marshall. Mr. Murphy stated he had not received this and a copy was provided to him this evening. Mr. Murphy stated they will comply with the request of the Fire Marshall.


Mr. Koch asked if the sewer issue has been resolved as it relates to the existing residences across the street from the development. Mr. Murphy stated they will provide sewer and water to the residences on the other side of Edgewood Road.

Mr. Gunkel stated he feels the Plans should be finalized before they go to the Board of Supervisors. Mrs. Gould noted the hydrant spacing needs to be changed. She stated she was also not in favor of the name "Carol Court" since she felt they had agreed they would not use proper names. Mr. Murphy stated he would agree not to go to the Board of Supervisors until they have complied with all items.

Mr. Koch moved, and Mrs. Gould seconded to recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of the Final Plans with the proviso that the developer shall submit to theTownship engineer some indication that all loose ends on the PCS letter dated 9/16/99 have been addressed and drawings have been changed to reflect the changes. The 9/21/99 Fire Marshall letter is also noted.

Ms. Ellie Fisher stated her property is directly effected by flooding from the Stewart Farm, and she has gone on record with the Township about the problems. She stated that last Thursday the water overflowed the improved system, and she is now concerned with the impact additional homes being built on the land will have on her property. Mr. Briegel stated another detention basin has been added since the original plans were shown. This basin has been designed in accordance with the existing piping. He stated there will also be an emergency spillway but this basin has been so conservatively designed such that the spillway will most likely never be touched.

Ms. Randy Laurie stated she would like to know that the Township will be open to their comments in the future if they do have a problem. Mr. Pazdera stated typically if there is a problem the residents contact the Township and the Township engineer is then directed to go out and look into the situation. Mr. Fazzalore stated they could get the attorney to write something into the Development Agreement to this effect. Ms. Laurie stated they would like to make sure that the easement is returned to its original condition after construction.Mr. Briegel stated the easement should be wide enough that there should not be a problem.Mr. Pazdera stated the developer has indicated he will bring things back to their original condition. Mr. Briegel stated the Township will have inspectors present when the construction of the system takes place. Mr. Fazzalore noted that Lower Makefield had less problems with water during the last storm than they had in the past because of recent improvements made.

Mr. Bill David of Leslie Lane stated he does not have an existing water problem and hopes he will not have one in the future after construction. Mr. Briegel stated the way the piping system is designed, he should not have a problem. Mr. David stated a representative for the developer was to contact him on a number of other issues, and Mr. Murphy agreed to look into this.

Mr. Jim Breece of Edgewood Road stated he understood at the last meeting that the developer was not going to provide water and sewers to his home and the Coyne home. Since that time he contacted Pennsylvania American Water Company who indicated if the developer will not install water, they will. He presented a copy of the letter from Pennsylvania American Water Company to Ms. Frick. Mr. Murphy stated they met with the Water Company and agreed on a route for the line they could agree to and the Board of Supervisors granted Preliminary Plan approval based on the developer providing public water and sewer to the two properties.

There was discussion on the name change for Carol Court, and Mrs. Gould agreed to work on this matter.

Motion to approve carried with Mr. Gunkel voting no.

#486 - HIDDEN POND ESTATES FINAL PLAN APPROVAL

Mr. Murphy noted the letter dated 9/21/99 from PCS. He stated they have resolved all issues with CKS and Mr. Hoffmeister is satisfied with the plan. He noted they will comply with all items in the PCS letter. A letter from the Fire Marshal was noted, and Mr. Murphy was provided with a copy of this letter this evening.

Mrs. Gould moved, Mr. Koch seconded and it was unanimously carried to recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of the Final Plan subject to completion of all items in the PCS letter dated 9/21/99 and the Ray Forestal letter of 8/31/99. A clear letter should be provided form PCS before the applicant goes to the Board of Supervisors.

There being no further business, Mr. Koch moved, Mrs. Gould seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 9:15 p.m.