TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD
PLANNING COMMISSION
APRIL 24, 2000

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on April 24, 2000. Chairman Pazdera called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

Those present:

Planning Commission:

John Pazdera, Chairman
Paul Gunkel, Vice Chairman
Deborah Gould, Secretary
Edward Koch, Member
Albert Roeper, Member

Others:

Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning
Duke Doherty, Township Engineer

Absent:

Fred Allan, Supervisor Liaison

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Mr. Gunkel moved, Mr. Roeper seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of February 28, 2000 as amended.


ZONING HEARING BOARD APPEAL #00-1061 - FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF NEWTOWN - SPECIAL EXCEPTION RECOMMENDATION

Mr. Keith Brown, Mr. Jack Leapson, and Mr. Warren Mann were present. Mr. Brown stated they are requesting a continuation of the Special Exception which was previously granted by the Zoning Hearing Board. The prior plan was for a smaller facility. They are also requesting a Variance from the impervious surface requirements which permit 18% impervious surface. They are requesting a site plan increase to 19.9% impervious surface ratio in order to provide sufficient parking, according to the Ordinance, for the proposed larger facility.

Mr. Brown stated Mr. Leapson has been meeting with the Township engineer, Mr. Doherty.

Mr. Brown showed the Planning Commission the Parking Study Plan relating to the requested impervious surface Variance. Mr. Brown stated the property has an unusual triangular shape, and the ultimate rights-of-way impact a significant amount of the property. In addition, the Church sold a corner piece of property to the Water Company and another corner was deeded to PennDOT in order to improve the intersection. Because of these special circumstances, they are requesting permission to increase the impervious surface. They plan to provide 274 parking spaces.

Mr. Roeper asked if they would be within the impervious surface requirements if they had maintained all of the property, and Mr. Leapson stated he felt they would be under the permitted amount.

Mr. Gunkel asked the amount of impervious surface at the time they previously went before the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Leapson stated they did not ask for a Variance at that time since it was not an issue. Mr. Gunkel asked if they discussed the impact on the impervious surface prior to negotiations with the Water Company regarding the land. Mr. Brown stated he was not involved in the project at that time. Ms. Frick stated the Plan showed actual impervious surface of 11.43% at that time. Mr. Pazdera noted at that time it was a much smaller proposal. Mr. Gunkel asked if the increase in impervious surface is all due to the fact that they gave up land, and Mr. Brown stated it is not since the building is now larger. Mr. Gunkel stated it appears they sold the land recognizing that they may have an impervious surface problem. Mr. Gunkel noted the rights-of-way were in effect at the time of the last submission before the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Brown stated he feels there was an increase in the right-of-way for Washington Crossing Road. Mr. Doherty stated it appears they lost six acres between the time of the last submission and this new submission.

Ms. Gould asked if they have shown sufficient parking to provide for future expansion including the Sanctuary, and Mr. Brown stated they feel 274 parking spaces is what they will need at total buildout. Ms. Gould asked the size of the parking stalls, and Mr. Leapson stated they are 9’ by 18’ and they were advised that the Township would be in favor of this smaller size.

Mr. Brown stated the approval of the Special Exception was given by the Zoning Hearing Board in 1992 for a different set of plans. The Planning Commission requested that they go back before the Zoning Hearing Board to insure that they were still in favor of the Special Exception in light of the fact that they are proposing to increase the size of the Church. Mr. Leapson stated the 11+% impervious surface reported on the previous plan was calculated using 25 acres which was to the title line in the bed of the road. Mr. Leapson stated the Church then went through a Master Plan Study to determine their future needs and that their needs had not been fully identified in 1992.

Mr. Gunkel moved to recommend to the Zoning Hearing Board approval of the Special Exception for a Church. Mr. Roeper moved to amend the Motion to include that the Zoning Hearing Board favorably consider the request for increase in impervious surface ratio in light of the uses to which other potions of the property were utilized. Ms. Gould seconded the Motion as amended. Motion carried with Mr. Gunkel abstained.

Mr. Leapson presented a plan protecting 3.9 acres of woodlands which is 81% of the woodlands and is more than required. He added they have moved the building toward Stoopville Road and away from the wetlands so that they can disturb less woods. Mr. Leapson stated the Corps of Engineers has walked the site with their environmental consultant and has concurred with their consultant’s wetlands delineation. Mr. Leapson stated that there was a basin near the proposed ball field on the plan previously seen by the Planning Commission. This has been moved and all water will now go into one large basin. This will eliminate any concerns regarding the environmental impact of the basin in the previous location. Mr. Leapson stated that on the last plan the parking was more spread out. They have now tried to get a configuration which minimizes the impervious surface, and consolidates the parking. They are not requesting any relief from the tree requirements and plan to install over 150 new trees. All 274 parking stalls are proposed to be installed during the first phase of construction ensuring that no additional parking will be necessary when the Sanctuary is eventually constructed.

Mr. Roeper noted the parking area adjacent to Stoopville Road and asked if they will need an exception to permit parking in this vicinity. Mr. Leapson stated they are 30’ from the ultimate right-of-way to the nearest stall. Mr. Doherty stated he feels a change was made to the Ordinance prohibiting parking in the front of the building setback and it appears they are showing this on the plan. Ms. Frick stated she feels this was included in the Subdivision Ordinance and they would therefore need a waiver. After review of the Subdivision Ordinance, Mr. Doherty stated it did not appear there was any problem with the parking in the front yard as shown.

There was discussion on the trees to be installed in the parking lot. Ms. Gould stated she would be in favor of a low barrier hedge along the outer parking rim. Mr. Roeper stated he would not be in favor of the trees installed between the parking stalls. Ms. Gould stated while trees would provide shade for the cars, she would not be opposed to some of the trees being eliminated provided they install a barrier hedge. Mr. Roeper suggested a combination of evergreens and deciduous trees to help cut down on the maintenance which would be required for a hedge. Mr. Gunkel suggested the applicant be given the option to come back with alternatives for further review, and possibly eliminate the trees between the parking stalls. Mr. Leapson asked if the Planning Commission would be in favor of the grant of a waiver in this regard if necessary, and it was agreed this would be recommended provided the Planning Commission was satisfied with the landscaping plan.

OTHER BUSINESS

Mr. Gunkel noted the Road Tour is scheduled for May 5. Mr. Doherty stated he has been advised that this has been postponed, and the new date could be May 12.

There being no further business, Ms. Gould moved, Mr. Koch seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 8:10 p.m.