MINUTES - MARCH 26, 2001

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on March 26, 2001. Chairman Roeper called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

Those present:

Planning Commission:

Albert Roeper, Chairman
Ron Tofel, Secretary
Edward Koch, Member
John Pazdera, Member


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


Deborah Gould, Planning Commission


Mr. Pazdera moved, Mr. Tofel seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of 2/12/01 as corrected.

Mr. Koch moved, Mr. Pazdera seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of 2/26/01 as corrected.


Mr. Edward Murphy, attorney, and Mr. Greg Glitzer, engineer, were present.

Mr. Murphy stated they have made four appearances before the Board of Supervisors presenting a number of different alternatives for the site. He stated they did not decide the extent of improvements to Houston Road. He stated they submitted Plans in November and reviewed the comments from PCS. They then re-submitted new Plans and are present tonight with the latest PCS review letter dated 3/21/01. Mr. Murphy showed the proposed Plan which calls for thirteen lots, two of which are existing lots. They have proposed the extension of Drew Road to the intersection with Houston Road. All lots conform to the Ordinance requirements. Mr. Murphy stated it is unclear at this time the extent of improvements that will be required to Houston Road. He stated he thinks the Board of Supervisors has discussed the matter with Mr. Coyne and PCS, and he understands Mr. Dohertyís office was working on certain aspects of Houston Road. Mr. Murphy stated they do not have any questions or comments on the PCS review letter and will comply with all items outlined in the 3/21/01 letter. Mr. Murphy stated they do need direction on the Houston Road issue.

Mr. Doherty presented a sketch plan for Houston Road which he was asked to prepare.

He stated he and Mr. Coyne went out to Houston Road and looked at the existing conditions. They felt that an 18 foot wide cartway could be constructed over the existing stone base. In order to accommodate turning around a snow plow and emergency equipment, they also added a squared-off hammerhead area. They also added an inlet near the driveway and one at the center of the road, and they will connect to the outlet pipe coming out at the detention basin. What is proposed will not require the removal of any trees on either side of the road. Mr. Doherty stated he understands the existing residents do not want to connect it through to the creek so the 18 foot width should be sufficient since it is only actually serving one driveway.

Mr. Tofel asked if it would be advisable to have the road open all the way through for police and fire access, and Mr. Doherty stated it would be advisable, but the existing residents do not want this.

Mr. Doherty stated they are proposing paving 18 feet and they would form the blacktop so that a gutter is created that will direct the water into the inlet.

Mr. Fazzalore asked about the construction of a footbridge, and Mr. Murphy stated he did not feel a majority of the Supervisors was interested in a footbridge. Ms. Frick read from the Board of Supervisors Minutes when this matter was discussed. Mr. Glitzer stated they would need a joint permit to have any kind of footbridge or bikepath in this area.

Mr. Roeper stated a footbridge would most likely be Township responsibility, and he feels this could involve liability. Mr. Doherty stated it would have to be raised up since it is in the floodplain. Mr. Glitzer stated he feels it would have to be a fairly high arch type structure particularly at the approaches. Mr. Murphy stated he also feels the neighbors were not in favor of this type of intrusion and concerned about people coming across in this area.

Mr. Murphy stated they are proposing a sidewalk on one side of the project inside the development. On Houston Road they have picked up the sidewalk to their intersection point with Drew and Houston. He stated the Township should decide if they want sidewalks on the other side of the internal street and if they want it down to the creek.

Mr. Tofel stated if there is no sidewalk on the other side of Drew Road, they will be taking a sidewalk to an area where there are no existing sidewalks. He also noted a similar situation when the Planning Commission recently voted in favor of sidewalks on both sides of the street. After discussion, it was the consensus of the Planning Commission that sidewalks should be installed on both sides of the internal streets.

Mr. Glitzer stated they will need to request a waiver to permit the basin to be 12" to 15" deeper than permitted by Ordinance.

Mr. Coyne stated the sketch Mr. Doherty has proposed satisfies his concerns. He noted the last house on the right and stated they would not have been able to get to that home with emergency equipment with the Plan as it was proposed. He also stated there are some existing trees in the area which do need to be taken care of. He stated some of these are in the right-of-way and some are hanging over the power lines.

Mr. Tom Doyle, representing the developer, was present and was asked the price of the homes proposed to be built. He stated they have not finally decided this but feel they will be starting at $550,000 and up.

Mr. Ernie Kelly, 159 Pine Lane, stated as each development has been built in the area, the floodplain has increased. He stated if they are going to put in a footbridge, it will have to be twenty feet high. He stated a significant amount of water comes down the hill to the creek. He is also concerned with the impact of additional run off to his pool. Mr. Roeper stated the Planning Commission has not taken any action on a footbridge across the creek.

Mr. Kelly stated he wants to make sure that the detention basin is large enough to handle the water. Mr. Glitzer stated they are controlling the run off from their site and are controlling it at a higher rate than the surrounding developments were constructed to since the Township has recently enacted more stringent requirements. Mr. Coyne stated the creek is very volatile when it rains. He stated by installing the basin and the inlets, this developer will help the situation. Mr. Coyne stated much of Mr. Kellyís problem is coming from upstream. Mr. Kelly stated he does not feel anyone who lives in the area wants the footbridge.

Ms. Jeanine Hecht, 1137 S. Houston, stated she does get water going onto her property.

Mr. Coyne stated they are showing the installation of inlets. He stated the widening they are proposing will help them to get better access to Ms. Hechtís property. He stated the way the property is now, they could not access her property in the event of an emergency.

He added that the pines that are on her property are out in the road and need to be trimmed back as it is dangerous the way it is currently.

Ms. Debbie Popper, Drew Drive, asked the extent of the road in this area. Mr. Glitzer stated they will build to a width consistent with the road. Mr. Doherty stated she will actually get more lawn at her property.

Mr. James Tierney, 1081 Drew Drive, asked how many trees will be removed from the property adjacent to his which was previously a nursery. Mr. Glitzer stated the trees along the property line will stay, but they are clearing out an envelope. Mr. Tierney asked the timeframe for construction, and Mr. Murphy stated they would not be able to provide that at this time. They hope to start late this summer, and it could take more than one year to construct.

Ms. Cheryl Hennessey, 1354 Yardley-Newtown Road, stated this Plan is considerably different from the Plan that was previously presented. She stated they had indicated that the existing buildings would be demolished, and now they are not demolishing any of the buildings. She also questions why there is an egress on Yardley-Newtown Road. She would like assurance that nothing will be changed beyond DeLucaís property on Houston Road. Mr. Murphy stated they are not changing anything with regard to the access to the one existing home, and there are no other improvements proposed for Houston Road beyond the limit of their property. Mr. Doherty stated the Plans do not call for any other improvements to Houston Road. Ms. Hennessey stated one of the existing buildings was constructed outside of the setbacks. She called the Township about this and was advised that this was a temporary structure. She stated Mr. Freeman never received a Building Permit for this. Ms. Frick asked who she contacted at the Township, but Ms. Hennessey was not able to provide a name. Ms. Hennessey noted the building on the Plan she was referring to, and Ms. Frick stated it is an accessory building and according to Township requirements an accessory building can be ten feet from the property line. She added that the property owner did obtain a Building Permit for this structure. Ms. Frick stated this is a detached garage which is considered an accessory building.

Mr. Coyne stated significant road improvements were made in this area in the past including installation of curbs and storm drains. 

Mr. Ken Ross, 1078 S. Houston Road, noted the problems with sight distance on Houston Road. He questioned a portion of land on the plan which appears to be the developerís but he feels is actually owned by another individual. Mr. Doyle stated they do not have plans to purchase that parcel of land, and the plans they submitted to the Township do not show it as part of their property. Mr. Murphy stated they can make the improvements shown without acquiring any additional property.

Mr. Tofel asked if they will use Houston Road or Drew during construction. Mr. Doherty stated they have asked that they put a temporary barricade at Drew.

Mr. Murphy asked if the Planning Commission would consider moving this along in an effort to give them some certainty as to what they are going to do on Houston Road.

They would like to have the opportunity to go before the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Roeper stated he feels the sketch of Houston Road shown this evening is acceptable to the Planning Commission. Mr. Murphy stated the developer is also prepared to accept it.

He stated they would like to be able to incorporate this design into their Plans.

Mr. Roeper moved, Mr. Koch seconded and it was unanimously carried that the Planning Commission recommends to the Board of Supervisors that they give serious consideration and acceptance to the Sketch prepared by PCS dated 3/26/01 illustrating a proposed method of widening Houston Road north of proposed Drew Road.

Mr. Kelly stated he would like to know the position of the Planning Commission with regard to the footbridge, and Mr. Roeper stated the Planning Commission has taken no action on a footbridge.


Mr. Koopman stated the Planning Commission has been discussing amendments to the Ordinance so that they can be made consistent with the MPC. He stated they also have to update the Comprehensive Plan. He stated the most significant amendment has to do with forestry, and he has drafted prospective regulations which he distributed this evening. It is required that forestry be permitted in every Zoning District. He stated the proposal is to add forestry under the agricultural type use. A Zoning Permit would be required and other regulations would be set forth. Mr. Koopman asked that this matter be put on the Agenda for the next meeting.

Mr. Roeper stated the Board of Supervisors approved the request for a proposal from Bucks County to update the Master Plan.


Mr. Ross asked why they are requiring the developer to use Houston Road as the construction entrance, and Mr. Roeper stated it is because it is the most direct route from 332 which is an existing street. Mr. Ross noted the existing driveway and it was noted this would not be wide enough to service construction traffic. Mr. Doherty stated the sight distance on Houston Road is sufficient, and the developer has the right to use this road.

There being no further business, Mr. Pazdera moved, Mr. Koch seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 8:40 p.m.