TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD
PLANNING COMMISSION
MINUTES - DECEMBER 10, 2001

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on December 10, 2001. Chairman Roeper called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

Those present:

Planning Commission:

Albert Roeper, Chairman
Deborah Gould, Vice Chairman
Ron Tofel, Secretary
John Pazdera, Member

Others:

Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning
John Koopman, Township Solicitor
Duke Doherty, Township Engineer
Frank Fazzalore, Supervisor Liaison

Absent:

Edward Koch, Planning Commission Member

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Ms. Gould moved, Mr. Pazdera seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of October 22, 2001 as written.

#335-M - OCTAGON CENTER (A/K/A MATRIX) - DENIAL OF FINAL PLAN

Mr. Marc Brookman, attorney, and Mr. Russell Tepper were present.

Ms. Gould stated she feels she needs to reverse her position with regard to Tall Pines Road. She understands that the road would be difficult and expensive to build. Since they do not know when the other phase will go in, she feels the residents should have another access to the northern end of Matrix. She stated if they have to close the road down for construction purposes for eighteen months, she feels this would be fine. She feels it is the cost of doing business if they have to resurface the road after trucks have used it. She would therefore be in favor of constructing Tall Pines Road as part of Phase I.

Mr. Roeper moved and Mr. Pazdera seconded to send the following communication to the Board of Supervisors: The Planning Commission has reviewed the Revised Final Land Development Plans for Phase I of the Octagon Center submitted by Matrix Realty Associates dated April 12, 2001, last revised October 31, 2001. The original Final Plan, prepared in accordance with the Master Plan dated May 11, 1988, was approved by the Board of Supervisors in August, 1991. The Commission was advised that the current plans under consideration were to be reviewed using the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances in effect as of September 1988 and the First Amendment to the Master Plan approval Agreement dated December 4, 2000. While during their meetings in 1989-1991, the Planning Commission had the opportunity to review and comment on Sketch and Preliminary Plans before rendering an opinion on the Final plans, no such opportunity was available to the Commission in connection with this review.


With these limitations, the Commission recommends that prior to their approval of the Final Plans dated April 12, 2001, last revised October 31, 2001 the Board of Supervisors consider the following:

The developer shall comply fully with the review letter dated November 9, 2001from Pickering, Corts, & Summerson, Inc. with the understanding that the Planning Commission supports the waivers required by the developer from SALDO Section 11.173(a)(2) permitting the plan to be prepared at a scale of 1"=120 and SALDO Section 11.92(d) permitting a 3:1 slope for the detention basin and grading along Big Oak Road.

The developer shall comply fully with the review letter dated November 8, 2001 from CKS Engineers, Inc.

The developer shall comply fully with the review letter dated November 9, 2001 from PennDOT and obtain the necessary permit for the improvements to Oxford Valley Road.

The developer shall comply fully with the forthcoming review letter from Pickering, Corts, & Summerson, Inc. for the improvements to Big Oak Road.

The developer shall revise the Final Plans to include a cul-de-sac on Tall Pines Road at the property line of Office Building 1 and include a barrier at the intersection of Big Oak Road and Tall Pines Road to prevent public access until such time the road is fully improved.

It is also recommended that the PennDOT improvements to the Route 1 Interchange as well as the signalization of the intersection of Township Line and Big Oak Roads be fully constructed prior to the addition of any site-generated traffic within the Lower Makefield Township portion of the development. We recommend that the Township cooperate fully with the developer in securing any necessary warrants or other required approvals from Middletown Township with regard to these improvements.

Furthermore, the Commission recognizes that the plans before them may meet the Township SALDO and Zoning requirements deemed to be in effect for this development; however, the Commission wishes to point out that if they had had the opportunity to review the development plans in the normal fashion, they would have recommended against the inclusion of the two "big box" retail buildings on this site during the preliminary plan review. The Commission does not consider the proposed "big box" retail buildings as being the best use for the site with respect to the long-range interests of the residents of the community. The inclusion of big box retail has a great impact on trip generation that would not exist if the site were developed under the original Bellemead Master Plan, or if it were to be developed entirely under an Office use.

In addition, the Commission recognizes that the traffic counts conducted for this project do not reflect seasonal peaks associated with Sesame Place during the Summer and holiday shopping at the end of the year and is of the opinion that the projected Levels of Service could be far below those forecast by the traffic engineers during much of the year, thus compounding the impact of this proposed development.

For these reasons, despite the housekeeping recommendations made above, the Planning Commission cannot recommend this project in its present form.

Mr. Borda stated RAM wrote a letter to Mr. Roeper before a decision was given thanking them for their time and effort and that they had faith in their integrity and decision making.

He thanked them for the decision that was made on behalf of the community.

Mr. Mike Kane commended the Planning Commission. He stated he feels the Planning Commission was given a puzzle without all the pieces and the Planning Commission was put in an unfair position.

Mr. Zachary Rubin, 1661 Covington Road, stated he feels the Planning Commission upheld what Zoning Boards and Planning Commissions are supposed to do. He stated when he moved into the community there was a sign on the Matrix property that indicated it would be a corporate center with some warehousing. He stated he feels people are entitled to know what will be in their back yard; and when a developer comes in thirteen years later saying they are going to have big box retail, this is wrong.

Mr. Tofel thanked RAM for their time and effort and their input into the matter. He also thanked Matrix for their presentation and the amount of material they provided. He congratulated Matrix on being named developer of the year; however, he is concerned that the area is already saturated with retail, many of which are abandoned. He stated shopping centers in general have a negative impact on the quality of life of a community. He does not feel they have been satisfied that this retail will not adversely impact the health, safety, and welfare of the community. He does feel there is the need for office space in the Township. He does not feel they should be reviewing this project under the 1988 rules.

Ms. Gould asked if any of the other Planning Commission members wished to change their votes with regard to completion of Tall Pines Road, and none were interested in doing so.

Motion to deny carried unanimously.

Mr. Brookman thanked the Planning Commission for the time and effort they put into reviewing the project.

#530 - MO-WEN INDUSTRIES, L.P. - T.P.N. 20-32-9 - INFORMAL SKETCH PLAN DISCUSSION

There was no one present to discuss this matter at this time.

HESTON TRACT - NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP LETTER FROM THOMAS J. HARWOOD, NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

Ms. Frick stated the Planning Commission received a copy of the letter from Mr. Harwood in their packet. She provided copies of the Plans this evening. Mr. Roeper stated these are plans which have been submitted for the Heston Farm in Newtown Township. This project abuts Lower Makefield Township so they have been given the opportunity to comment on it insofar as it may effect Lower Makefield Township. After review of the Plans, Mr. Roeper stated they have no comment on the overall lay out at this time.

Ms. Frick was asked to obtain information on the stormwater management so that the Plans can be reviewed by Mr. Doherty before comments are made by the Planning Commission to Newtown Township.

#530 - MO-WEN INDUSTRIES, L.P. - T.P.N. 20-32-9 - INFORMAL SKETCH PLAN DISCUSSION

Mr. Thomas Smith, attorney, was present with Mr. Jeff Moskowitz and Mr. Paul Wenclawiack. Mr. Smith stated the lot is located at the corner of Oxford Valley Road and Dobry Road. The property is located in the C-3 Commercial District and is 1.4 acres. They believe they can trace single and separate ownership back to the late 19th Century.

Mr. Smith provided a copy of the deed which traces the chain of title back to 1874.

Smaller copies of the Plan were provided this evening. Mr. Smith stated they recognize that the minimum lot size is ten acres. They feel they can conform with the setbacks and environmental provisions applicable to a two acre parcel.

Mr. Smith stated they are proposing construction of a car wash which they feel falls within the permitted uses for this District as a service station. This would be a fully automated, fully enclosed car wash facility. There would be one attendant acting as a cashier and to do the programming. Six parking spaces are devoted to the coin operated vacuum. They have a fifty foot front, side, and rear yard setback. They are showing fourteen parking spaces on the lot; although they do not feel the use itself would require this. They would have three employees at most at any one time. No retail is proposed.

Mr. Moskowitz stated the customers would stay in their car. They will not have anyone at the end wiping cars since they have a sophisticated drying system. They are not offering any detailing.

Mr. Tofel asked if this will generate outside noise, and Mr. Wenclawiack stated it will be contained within the building. Mr. Moskowitz stated they would comply with any noise Ordinances. Mr. Tofel asked about the proposed material of the building, and Mr. Wenclawiack stated they are hoping to do a masonry building; but it would be compatible with the surrounding area and not be offensive to the neighbors.

Ms. Frick asked if they have reviewed the Natural Resource restrictions since she feels the site is wooded. Mr. Fazzalore stated he also feels there are wetlands. Mr. Smith stated they will look at this when they engineer the Plans. Mr. Wenclawiack noted the green area shown on the Plans is actually owned by the Township.

Mr. Koopman stated under the Ordinance they would be required to go to the Zoning Hearing Board to obtain Variances based on a non-conformity. Mr. Smith stated this lot existed prior to Zoning. Mr. Koopman stated in the past the procedure has been to go to the Zoning Hearing Board on the issue of minimum lot size. He stated they may also need more than just that relief from the Zoning Hearing Board because of the woodlands and wetlands on the site. The Township would still feel the requirements other than minimum lot size are applicable; and if they cannot meet them, they would have to go to the Zoning Hearing Board.

Mr. Doherty stated they should also consider stormwater management issues.

Mr. Koopman stated they may need a waiver from the Subdivision Ordinance as well.

Ms. Frick stated she is concerned that there may not be a place to put a detention basin on the lot.

Ms. Frick asked if they have looked into developing the site already approved for a car wash in the area. Mr. Moskowitz stated he feels that site is owned by the gentleman who operates the Mobil Station. Ms. Frick stated she could make information available to them regarding this site.

Mr. Moskowitz stated they feel they can still comply with the requirements at the site they are currently considering.

Mr. Roeper asked if the Matrix Plan impacts the intersection of Oxford Valley and Dobry Roads, and Mr. Doherty stated it does not. Mr. Roeper stated he feels there are some formidable problems ahead with getting this site approved for this use. He feels they should investigate the wetlands since this could be very limiting. They should also look into stormwater management. He stated he feels they should look into the suggestion made by Ms. Frick with regard to the site in the area already approved for a car wash.

Ms. Gould stated she is concerned that they may decide at some future time to have detailing, and they would therefore need more room for parking.

Mr. Roeper stated they should also look at the Sign Ordinance since the amount of signage they are permitted to have is very limited. He stated they may want to go before the Zoning Hearing Board for this as well.

Mr. Pazdera stated once they look at the resource protection limitations, he feels they will not have anything left. He stated the setbacks required would be from the protected area, not the lot line.

Ms. Frick asked where they intended to put the detention basin, and Mr. Wenclawiack stated they could create it in the landscaped area or have it underground. Mr. Roeper stated he does not feel underground detention would be looked upon favorably.

Ms. Frick stated it does not appear that the setbacks shown from Oxford Valley Road are correct since this is a collector road and requires a greater setback than what is being shown.

 There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.