TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD
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.
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
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
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.
Mr. Roeper, Chairman