TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES - AUGUST 12, 2002

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on August 12, 2002.  Chairman Roeper called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:            Albert Roeper, Chairman

                                                Ron Tofel, Vice Chairman

                                                John Pazdera, Member

                                                Michael Shavel, Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                John Koopman, Township Solicitor

                                                Mario Canales, Township Engineer

                                                James Mazewski, Township Engineer

                                                Pete Stainthorpe, Supervisor Liaison

 

Absent:                         Deborah Gould, Planning Commission Secretary

 

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

Mr. Pazdera moved, Mr. Tofel seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of July 8, 2002 as written.

 

Mr. Pazdera moved and Mr. Shavel seconded to approve the Minutes of July 22, 2002 as written.  Motion carried with Mr. Tofel abstained.

 

 

#534 - LOWER MAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP GOLF COURSE PRELIMINARY/FINAL PLAN DISCUSSION AND MOTION

 

Mr. Scott Arterburn, Mr. Jeff Clark of Del Val Soil, Mr. William Taylor, and Mr. Wes

Hackman were present.  Mr. Taylor noted one of the major concerns of the neighbors

surrounding the golf course was the possible impact on their wells.  Mr. Clark stated they

set up a monitoring well network with nineteen surrounding wells having intensive

monitoring and an additional seventeen wells where water levels were measured before and

after the test.  They began the forty-eight hour pumping on 7/23/02 and the pump rates are

noted in the 8/9/02 letter from Del Val.  They pumped at a higher level per minute than will

actually be done when the golf course is in operation in order to show a worst case

scenario.  The proposed peak use for the golf course is two hundred gallons per minute. 

While they did show a measurable draw down on one on-site well and two off-site wells,

none of these were adverse.  Based on preliminary data, they feel the golf course can

proceed with two hundred gallons per minute without measurable draw downs to the

neighborhood.  He noted the pump test was conducted during a drought; and if there were

a drought emergency in the future, they would be restricted as to what areas they would be

permitted to irrigate.  They would recommend that there be a requirement for long-term

monitoring of water levels in the area and an annual hydrogeological report to be submitted

to the DRBC. 

August 12, 2002                                                        Planning Commission - page 2 of 6

 

 

Mr. Shavel asked what would happen if they did find a problem with an adjacent residential

well, and Mr. Clark stated the Township would be required by the DRBC to remedy that

situation.  Mr. Clark noted that there is recharge through the irrigation process.  He noted

they monitored for one to two weeks after the test and they did not see any problems

although there was a general declining trend in the area due to the drought.   Mr. Tofel

stated he is still concerned with the amount of water being used for the golf course and the

possible impact on neighboring wells.  He questioned if the Township should not provide

for the needs of the residents now.  Mr. Clark stated the test shows that there will be no

problems; but if there are problems in the future, the DRBC would require the Township to

address the issue. 

 

Mr. Shavel stated he feels if this was a private developer instead of the Township, they

would require a sizable bond because of the concern with the possible impact in the future. 

Mr. Hackman stated they do have a private company in the Township on Township Line

Road where they bottle water and they installed three wells.  They required of them an

Agreement that if there were any adverse impacts, they would have to address them.  This

is the same kind of Agreement that the Township will have in this situation as well.  He

stated the Township had a professional group conduct the forty-eight hour test and he does

not feel there is anything more the Township can do to demonstrate that there will not be a

water problem.  Mr. Shavel stated he is concerned that the Township is going to have to

pay the expense if there is a problem in the future.  He stated he feels it should be part of

the Golf Course Plan to provide the water line out into the street and the homeowners would then have to hook up if there was a problem in the future.  Mr. Hackman stated he does not feel this is reasonable at this time since they have shown that there will not be an adverse impact.  He stated they will also have two lakes that will be maintained and whatever rain falls they will capture in these lakes.  This will result in eight million gallons of water in reserve.

 

There was discussion on the CKS letter dated 8/12/02.  Item #1 was noted, and

Mr. Arterburn stated they currently have three of the four required letters.  They are still

waiting for the letter from Yardley Borough.  Item #2 was noted and Mr. Arterburn stated

this has already been received.  Items #3, #4, and #5 are details which will be added to the

Plan.

 

Mr. Roeper noted the comments from the Bucks County Planning Commission regarding

the buildings on the site.  Mr. Arterburn stated they intend to save the manor house, shed

#1 and one of the two silos.  The balance of the structures will be taken down.

Mr. Hackman stated the Historic Commission has been on the site on a number of

occasions once clearing was done so that they could actually see the buildings.  He stated

most of the buildings are in such disrepair that it would be dangerous to go in them and

they will be taken down. 

 

Mr. Roeper stated at the last meeting there was some differences of opinion between the

architect and the Bucks County Planning Commission regarding separation of greens and

some other design items.  The letter from Mr. Taylor regarding these issues was noted. 

Mr. Arterburn stated Mr. Jacobson wrote a letter describing his design criteria.  The Bucks

County Planning Commission had indicated that they spoke to an individual from the

American Society of Golf Course Architects and Mr. Arterburn has since learned that this

individual was actually someone who has never designed a golf course and improperly

gave the Bucks County Planning Commission this information.  He noted a number of

other individuals who have designed golf courses and have used the same distances which

August 12, 2002                                                        Planning Commission - page 3 of 6

 

 

are being proposed for this golf course.  Mr. Arterburn stated the Bucks County Planning

Commission also referred to another individual who they indicated was a well-known golf

course architect and a distance figure he referenced in his book written in 1996. 

Mr. Arterburn stated they have learned that this figure refers to a hole designed to be run

between two residences and does not pertain to the Township golf course. 

 

Mr. Hackman noted the original design called for the driving range to be located along the

homes at Clearview Estates and they moved it to the back to eliminate any problems.

 

Mr. Tofel asked how much coverage of soil is to be placed over the gas line. 

Mr. Arterburn stated PCS went out last week and surveyed the horizontal locations.  They

will have no cuts over the line.  They did not recommend test pitting the depth.  They will

test pit at the location they will cross to locate the lines in that fashion. Mr. Hackman stated

they did build up to a certain extent in these areas.  Mr. Arterburn stated the gas company

did provide a document permitting them to cross.  Mr. Taylor stated they have not yet

executed the agreement with the gas company as they have been advised by the Township

solicitor to wait until the Board of Supervisors has approved the plan.

 

The 8/1/02 letter from the Bucks County Conservation District was noted as well as RBA’s

response dated 8/6/02.  Mr. Arterburn stated they spoke to the individual from BCCD to

understand what she was looking for before they sent their response.  He noted that every

time they re-submitted the Plan, this individual added new items which were not raised

before.  There was discussion on the silt fence and there is design criteria which they will

meet.  Mr. Arterburn stated BCCD has asked that they provide something above what is

required and this would cost approximately $45,000.  This is only a recommendation

however, and not a mandate.  Mr. Hackman stated during the course of construction, if it

appears that there is a problem, they will install a different type of fencing in those areas. 

Mr. Arterburn stated the contractor does have the responsibility to maintain the silt fencing

during construction.

 

The 8/8/02 PCS letter was noted which sets out the variances, waivers, and Special

Exceptions which have been granted.  Mr. Roeper noted Item C under Item #3 and stated

no curbs are shown on the drawings. He stated the widths on either side of the driveway

and the tapers reasonably correspond to those at Clearview.  Mr. Tofel stated there is an 8’

wide shoulder currently on the road for the full length and he asked if they could not put

blacktop on this which would permit the golfers to pull off the road to enter the course.

Mr. Hackman stated they plan to match what Clearview or Longshore Estates have and this

will permit the golfers to pull off the road to enter the site.   He stated he feels the traffic

into the golf course will be less than what it would be into a residential development. 

 

There was discussion on the length of the driveway, and Mr. Arterburn stated they are

showing 24” on the Plan as was requested by the Planning Commission.  Mr. Hackman

stated they do not agree that this is necessary, but agreed to show it on the Plan at the

request of the Planning Commission.

 

Mr. Roeper asked for public comment, but  there was no comment at this time. 

 

Mr. Shavel stated despite the reassurances by the experts, he is still concerned with impact

on the wells.  He noted Section 178-102 B3 requires a mechanism for homeowners to file a

complaint and to have their problem remedied.  Mr. Hackman stated the Township is

providing for this. 

August 12, 2002                                                        Planning Commission - page 4 of 6

 

 

Mr. Roeper stated at a prior meeting there was discussion about the possibility of residents,

their guests, and children on the course and the location of Pond #2 which was adjacent to the property lines of the Delaware Rim neighbors on the west side.  Mr. Shavel stated he is still concerned about this particularly in the winter and the possibility of people ice skating on the site.  Mr. Hackman stated there have been discussions in the past whether it is possible to use the course off season for other activities such as cross-country skiing, skating, etc.  He stated if they do this, they would have to provide some mechanism to make sure the ponds were drawn down and to check the thickness of the ice.  He stated the Board is also concerned about liability and they will have to make sure it is safe.

 

Mr. Roeper stated there was discussion about fencing and there is nothing on the Plan

except along Woodside Road.  Mr. Arterburn stated the residents did not want a fence. 

Mr. Hackman stated the Zoning Hearing Board came up with language that requires

installation of a Type I buffer unless the Township and the homeowners come to an

agreement for something else.

 

Mr. Tofel stated he is still concerned about the water issue and feels if any other developer

came in with the same number of waivers, variances, and Special Exceptions, they would

not receive approval.  He asked why the Patterson Farm was not considered for this use.

Mr. Hackman stated this project was started in advance of the purchase of the Patterson

Farm.  He noted the reason for the number of waivers, variances, etc. is because the

Ordinances relate to development of residences, not a golf course.  He stated this property

was not going to remain a farm and it was sold twice to housing developers who then

backed out of the deal. 

 

Mr. Roeper stated while it is not within the purview of the Planning Commission to speak

to the financial liability of a project, he personally is concerned that despite what the

financial analysts have indicated, the Township will wind up paying for the bond interest or

bond principal.  Mr. Hackman stated the one thing they wanted to make sure was that this

would be self-sufficient.  They have had two professional consultants and other consultants

as well review this.  Mr. Taylor has also spent numerous hours reviewing the financial

information.  They firmly believe that this will be self-supporting.  Other Township golf

courses are showing a profit and turning back funds to the Township for other recreation

programs.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated the golf course in Warminster supports the entire

Township recreation program.  Mr. Roeper stated there are also a number of golf courses

which are a drain on Townships. 

 

Mr. Pazdera stated while he does have reservations with the Plan, they are not sufficient for

him to turn down the project.  Mr. Shavel stated he is very concerned about the plan as it

relates to Section 178-102 of the Ordinance but feels this is an issue for the Board of

Supervisors to consider since they could be taking on a burden to the taxpayers if there is a

problem with the water.  He stated while he is uncomfortable with this issue, he feels he

would still vote to recommend the Plan to the Board of Supervisors. 

 

Mr. Roeper moved and Mr. Tofel seconded to send the following communication to the

Board of Supervisors:

 

            We have reviewed the Preliminary/Final plans for the Lower Makefield Golf Course consisting of 39 sheets dated 2/14/02, last revised 8/5/02 as well as the Findings of Fact, Decision and Order of the Township Zoning Hearing Board dated 6/4/02.

 

August 12, 2002                                                        Planning Commission - page 5 of 6

 

 

            We confirm the waivers recommended by this Commission at their meeting on 4/22/02 (listed in Paragraph 1 of PCS ‘s letter of 6/6/02).  In addition, we recommend

waiver of Section 178-39 requiring off-site road improvement fees, Section 178-46A(2) requiring curbs along Woodside Road with the understanding that any frontage improvements (i.e. accel/decel) be consistent with those done at either Clearview Estates or Longshore Estates, and Section 178-93.C.(2)(c) and (d) pertaining to stormwater management requirements which do not apply because of the nature of the use.

 

            Prior to any approval action we recommend that the Township receive an unqualified letter from the Bucks Conservation District, satisfy itself that all comments in

the CKS review letter of 8/12/02 have been addressed, and have in hand all necessary agreements with the Williams Gas Pipeline.  In addition, necessary Sewage Facility Planning Modules must be received.

 

            Section 178-102 of the SALDO requires any developer to post financial security in the event the water supply of any household or building within one-half mile of the development is adversely affected by wells in the development.  We are not aware of any plan for the golf course to post a bond or other security within the Township.  However, we are very concerned with the future sizable potential liability facing the golf course or the Township in the event that water withdrawal adversely affects adjacent properties.  We recommend that the Township provide a procedure for making a claim and a remedy if the claim is valid.

 

            Pond No. 2 is located between the rear property lines of lots in the Clearview Estates and the fairway of the No 6 hole.  The center depth of water in this pond is indicated as 11’.  While berms and undergrowth may provide separation, we are concerned that this situation poses a very real safety and liability problem in the event children and other individuals trespass on the course.

 

            The course has been designed to fit the 180 acres available.  To accomplish that, fairways are necessarily closer together and closer to adjoining properties than would be the case if additional acreage were available.  Furthermore, technological development has resulted in clubs and balls which provide greater distance.  We are quite concerned with the potential liability, complaints from neighbors, and impact on the playability of the course that could result from the present layout.

 

            Decorative fencing has been provided along Woodside Road.  Berms, where requested, will be provided. However, in many cases adjacent property owners, including children and guests, are free to wander onto the course and golfers are free to enter the adjacent property to search for or play balls.  No provision has been made to limit such trespass.  Particularly in light of the above comment on errant balls, we are concerned with the potential liability which could arise from such trespass and recommend consideration of fencing which is effective and attractive.

 

            While the proposed plans have met all development requirements (except possibly that of Section 178-102) either by compliance, variance, or waiver, in light of the concerns expressed above, we do not feel that we can recommend unqualified approval of this project as it presently stands.

 

 

 

August 12, 2002                                                        Planning Commission - page 6 of 6

 

 

Mr. Arterburn stated he is concerned about the Planning Commission’s request for additional fencing since the adjacent residents have indicated they do not want the fence.  Mr. Roeper stated he feels the Board of Supervisors will have to address this in the future

when the residents come before the Board complaining about people going onto their properties.  Mr. Hackman stated he agrees that this is possible and they may have to install fences at some point in the future even though the residents have requested that they not be installed at this time.  He stated the Township will install the fences in the future if it is necessary.

 

Motion carried with Mr. Tofel opposed.

 

 

UPDATE ON COMPREHENSIVE MASTER PLAN 

 

Mr. Roeper stated the questionnaire is at the printer and mailing envelopes have been

received at the Township and will be addressed this week.  Mr. Roeper stated he feels they

will be able to have the questionnaire sent out on time.  They have received the

questionnaires back from the Departments, Boards, and Commissions with the exception

of the Historic Architectural Review Board, the Farmland Preservation Corporation, and

the Elm Lowne Committee.  Those which were received were forwarded to the Bucks

County Planning Commission and Mr. Roeper does have copies of them available for

review by the Planning Commission members.

 

 

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

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

                                                                        Mr. Roeper, Chairman