TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES - DECEMBER 9, 2002

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on December 9, 2002.  Chairman Roeper called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:   Albert Roeper, Chairman

                                                John Pazdera, Vice Chairman

                                                Deborah Gould, Secretary

                                                Michael Shavel, Member (left meeting in progress)

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                Douglas Maloney, Township Solicitor

                                                James Majewski, Township Engineer

                                                Pete Stainthorpe, Supervisor Liaison

 

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

Mr. Pazdera moved, Mr. Shavel seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of October 28, 2002 as amended.

 

 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPEAL #02-1175 - BUCKS CENTRAL CHURCH SPECIAL EXCEPTION REQUEST

 

Mr. Edward Murphy, attorney, stated this matter was before the Planning Commission

starting four years ago.  A Special Exception was granted in 1998, but approval of the

Preliminary Land Development Plans was stalled due to issues with regard to storm water. 

The Special Exception Approval lapsed because of the length of time which had passed.

They were able to resolve the storm water issues and now have to make a new Application

before the Zoning Hearing Board for the Special Exception.  Mr. Murphy stated nothing of

any consequence has changed since the last Approval other than the way they are handling

the storm water and the parking lot has been slightly re-arranged.  He added that PCS

reviewed this informally and was generally satisfied with the Plans.  At this time the only

thing before the Planning Commission is the Special Exception.  Assuming they are able to

obtain approval from the Zoning Hearing Board, the revised Preliminary Land

Development Plans will come back before the Planning Commission.  Mr. Murphy noted

the characteristics of the Church are unchanged.

 

Mr. Pazdera moved, Ms. Gould seconded and it was unanimously carried to recommend to

the Zoning Hearing Board approval of the Special Exception in accordance with the

Application.

 

 

#531 - METZ TRACT PRELIMINARY PLAN APPROVAL

 

Mr. Murphy stated the Planning Commission last reviewed this in October but would not

make a recommendation due to the extent of the review comments.  Revised Plans to

December 9, 2002                                                           Planning Commission - page 2 of 8

 

 

address their comments have been re-submitted and the most recent PCS letter dated

11/27/02 was noted.  Mr. Murphy stated the Planning Commission did make a

recommendation previously on the Waivers being requested.  All other items are “will

comply.”  Mr. Murphy noted that road names have been submitted.

 

Mr. Pazdera moved and Mr. Shavel seconded to recommend to the Board of Supervisors

approval of the Plans dated 7/1/02, last revised 11/6/02 subject to compliance with the PCS

letter dated 11/27/02.  The Planning Commission recommends Approval of all Waivers

contained in Item #1 and Item #6 of the PCS letter.

 

Mr. Bill Hilton, President of the Orchard Hill Homeowners Association, stated they are

still not sure how the run off will impact the basin which is owned by the Orchard Hill

Homeowners Association.  He stated they would like to have a meeting with the

developer’s engineer to determine how this will be handled.  Mr. Roeper stated he

understood that the developer met with the engineer for Yardley Borough and it was

determined that after development, there will be less water and probably cleaner water than

is presently flowing into that detention basin.  Mr. Majewski stated a representative from

his office spoke to the Yardley Borough engineer two months ago and they were satisfied

with the proposal based on the fact that the Lower Makefield Township Ordinances are

more strict than their own.  Mr. Hilton stated he did speak to the Yardley Borough engineer

who indicated he would get back to him after review of the Plans, but he has not yet heard

from him.  Mr. Roeper suggested that Mr. Hilton contact the Yardley Borough engineer

about this; and if there are any further concerns, Mr. Hilton can appear at the Board of

Supervisors meeting next Monday night when this will be up for Approval.

 

Mr. Ernest Mecino, 95 Dolington Road, asked if the Applicant has addressed any traffic

concerns with the means of egress for Road B on Dolington Road.  Mr. Roeper stated there

was discussion on this.  The Police Department reviewed it, and they do not anticipate any

problems. Mr. Mecino stated this is a State road and asked if the Applicant will have to

apply for a Highway Occupancy Permit.  Mr. Murphy stated this has been applied for.

He stated they are proposing typical entrance improvements, but full widening will not be

done in order to protect the trees along the property.  Mr. Mecino stated if Road B

cul-de-sac is approved, the headlights coming out of that driveway will be shining directly

toward his front door.  Mr. Mecino was advised that he could review the drawings to see

how this will impact his property.  Mr. Mecino stated if he will be impacted, he would like

to have additional buffering in front of his home.  Mr. Mecino commented on his concern

with cars traveling on this road.  Mr. Majewski stated the speed limit is thirty-five miles per

hour in this portion of the road and there is appropriate sight distance.  Mr. Mecino stated

because the Township wanted to acquire additional land, they had to shift the location of

the interior road. Mr. Roeper stated this was the desire of the Board of Supervisors.  They

did look at a number of different configurations, and this was the most satisfactory to meet

the requirements being imposed on the developer with regard to the house.  After this

matter was resolved, the road was then designed.  Mr. Roeper stated while Mr. Mecino

may want to consider installing additional plantings along his frontage, he may want to wait

to see if the headlights are actually a problem.

 

Motion carried unanimously.

 

 

 

 

December 9, 2002                                                           Planning Commission - page 3 of 8

 

 

RECOMMENDATION ON PROPOSED AGE QUALIFIED ORDINANCE

 

Mr. Roeper provided information on this matter including a summary of recommendations

for 55-Plus Housing which was taken from a more extensive report which he does have

available for review by those interested. He has also provided a comparison of

requirements for Adult Housing for those Townships having such Ordinances where the

minimum acreage is ten acres or more.

 

Mr. Roeper stated at the first meeting of the Master Plan group in April of last year when

they were discussing the priority items that had to be addressed in the Master Plan, one of

the first items noted was to give consideration to 55 and over Housing.  It was also noted a

number of times in the questionnaire.  He stated he is disappointed that the Board of

Supervisors did not give the Planning Commission the courtesy of being in on the drafting

of an Ordinance which would have a substantial impact on the Zoning requirements in

Lower Makefield Township.  Instead, they directed the Solicitor to draw up an Ordinance

which was in some respect specifically tailored to a particular property, and did not in any

way give consideration to its impact on other parcels or other residential zones in the

Township.  He noted that this evening the Planning Commission must come up with a

recommendation to the Board of Supervisors becuase they have given the Planning

Commission a deadline of December 16 or they will simply approve it.  Mr. Roeper stated

he does not feel it is proper to confine this to R-1; but in the interest of accomplishing what

they have to do, they should concentrate on R-1 at this time and then either the Planning

Commission, or if the Board of Supervisors determine it proper, a working group, should

be formed to determine the impact of what these requirements will be on the other zones.

 

Mr. Murphy stated in the summer he contacted the Township Solicitor’s office to inquire

whether the Township would consider an Amendment to consider Age-Qualified Housing

in the Township.  He noted he has had a hand in developing some of the criteria in the

proposed Ordinance, and he is present this evening to offer explanations if the Planning

Commission wants to know why certain items are in the Ordinance.  He added that he is in

large measure the author of the draft Ordinance.

 

Mr. Roeper stated when an Ordinance of this magnitude is debated, there is usually a

working group established including members of the Board of Supervisors, Planning

Commission and other interested persons and they could include someone like Mr. Murphy

in that group.  He stated this did not take place in this instance.

 

Mr. Roeper stated he feels the definition of an Age Qualified Community should refer to

and be consistent with the Fair Housing Act. 

 

Mr. Roeper stated he feels the density should be based on net buildable site area since this

is currently the criteria in other residential zones in the Township.  Currently it is shown in the draft as 1.5 dwellings based on the entire site, outside restrictions.  Ms. Gould stated this would open up huge tracts of land that are currently not buildable.  Mr. Majewski stated they would still have to physically site the units on portions of the land that are developable and could not go into the restricted areas without obtaining a Variance.  He stated the Bucks County Planning Commission stated they felt it should be based on net buildable site area, and the Township engineer’s office would agree.  The Planning Commission agreed with this as well.  Mr. Roeper stated to be fair, if they are basing it on net buildable site area, it should be higher than 1.5.  Mr. Pazdera stated the Township engineer has recommended 2.5 and he would agree with this.  Mr. Majewski stated they

December 9, 2002                                                           Planning Commission - page 4 of 8

 

 

are trying to keep it somewhere in the range of R-1/R-2 density, although other Townships have gone to a much higher density.

 

Ms. Gould asked why this is only being considered for single family homes. She stated

she feels it should be considered for quads and duplexes as well.

 

Mr. Shavel stated he would be in favor of more density if they provide more open land.

Mr. Majewski stated this Ordinance does provide for this and is similar to the Farmland

Preservation Ordinance.

 

Ms. Dana Weyrick asked what tract precipitated this Ordinance.  Mr. Roeper stated the Planning Commission is not considering any specific tract but is drafting an Ordinance so that it applies to any tract.  Ms. Weyrick questioned why this is being pushed before the Master Plan Update.  Mr. Roeper suggested she ask this question of the Board of Supervisors.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated the Board of Supervisors asked that the Planning Commission try to consider this matter at their next meeting, but that if they needed additional time, it could be extended to a future meeting.  He stated the Board of Supervisors is not being pressured by any specific developer; and if the Planning Commission feels they need more time, they should take it.

 

Mr. Shavel stated he feels if they do give a recommendation, they should indicate that it

should be not only for R-1, but for other Districts as well and further, they should take the time to do it correctly.   Mr. Roeper stated if they look at other areas, they should consider what tracts are still available. He stated they may want to recommended that the Board of

Supervisors open other areas for this type of use as well.

 

It was agreed that the recommended number should be 2.5 dwelling units per acre.

 

There was discussion on the maximum on-lot impervious surface ratio.  Mr. Murphy stated

the number he submitted was 52% for the developer and 55% for the homeowner.  The

number shown in the draft Ordinance is a typo.  Mr. Roeper agreed that the reality is that

the homeowners want to build sunrooms, etc. and this results in problems with impervious

surface.  Ms. Frick stated they are having this problem now at Palmer Farm.  Mr. Murphy

stated in most of these communities they have a double wide driveway and this does result

in more impervious surface.  He stated most communities have two on-lot parking spaces

exclusive of the side by side garage.   It was agreed that the maximum on-lot impervious

surface ratio should be limited to 52% for the developer and 55% for the homeowner.

 

There was discussion on the steep slopes.  Mr. Murphy stated in the draft Ordinance, they

are suggesting a 5% leeway.  He noted most of the projects with which he has been

involved were cluster-type developments. He stated infill projects frequently have areas on

them with restrictions and they are left with small lots.  When you cluster them, you have

areas where you might have to encroach.  He stated this was not tailored to a specific site.

Mr. Pazdera stated he would be willing to go to 65/80.  Ms. Gould questioned why they

are relaxing the standards.  Mr. Murphy stated if they want to attract an Age-Qualified

Community, they are going to have to make the standards somewhat different so that they

can build to that which the market will accept.  The standards they have suggested are at the

very low end of the type of standards someone looking to build such a community would

consider.  He stated a bigger building footprint on the first floor is a given since the master

bedroom is on the first floor, and this results in more impervious surface.

 

December 9, 2002                                                           Planning Commission - page 5 of 8

 

 

Ms. Weyrick stated she does not feel Mr. Murphy should be permitted to tell the Planning

Commission how to write the Ordinance.  She stated she feels this is spot zoning.

 

No decision was made on the steep slope requirements at this time and it was agreed to give

this matter further consideration.

 

There was discussion on minimum building setback.  Ms. Gould stated she is concerned

that if they reduce the minimum setback from the resource protected land, it could impact

the trees when construction takes place. She stated she feels ten feet is too small.  After

discussion was agreed to recommend that the minimum building setback must be a

minimum of twenty feet but fifteen feet of this must be clear of resource protection land. 

 

There was discussion on minimum side yards.  Mr. Murphy stated they have found in

Municipalities where there are Age-Qualified Communities, they wanted to have the

flexibility to have side yard garages.  This improves the streetscape.  The standard they

have suggested is designed to address this request.  He stated probably they could do

something whereby they would permit a somewhat relaxed standard if 40% to 50% of

the units have side-entry garages.  He agreed this is much more difficult if it is not a single-

family unit.  Mr. Murphy stated they recommended this as an over-lay in the R-1 simply

because there was not sufficient land in the other residential Districts.  Mr. Roeper stated he

feels the absolute minimum between buildings should be twenty feet.  Mr. Majewski stated

this would take away some of the flexibility to permit a side-entry garage.  Mr. Pazdera

stated they could make it a larger lot.  Mr. Majewski stated he does not feel the developer

will do this.  He stated he does agree that there should be a minimum distance between

buildings.  He suggested five feet minimum, and fifteen feet aggregate with a fifteen foot

minimum between buildings.  Mr. Murphy stated he feels they should then require that a

certain minimum number have side entrance garages which will make it more attractive

from the street.  Ms. Gould suggested that a minimum of 40% of the units have side-

entrance garages.  It was agreed that the with regard to the minimum side yard, there

should be a five foot minimum, 15 foot aggregate, with a fifteen foot minimum between

buildings.  It is required that there be a minimum of 40% with side-entrance garages.

 

There was discussion on the garages.  Mr. Murphy stated he feels they should require two

on-lot parking spaces exclusive of the garage.  Mr. Shavel stated he does not feel they

should require a double wide driveway for a side-entrance garage. 

 

There was discussion on the pedestrian circulation system.  Mr. Roeper stated this should

be provided so that people do not walk in the street.  Ms. Gould stated she feels they

should require sidewalks on both sides.  It was recommend that they follow current

Ordinance on sidewalks.  Mr. Roeper asked if they want to provide bikepath or trails

elsewhere on the site as a trade off for sidewalks.  Mr. Majewski stated this would require

a Waiver.

 

There was discussion on front yard setbacks.  Ms. Frick stated this is measured from the

edge of the right-of-way.  The proposed Ordinance is suggesting sixteen feet which is

twenty-six feet from the curb.  It was agreed to go with sixteen feet.

 

There was discussion on accessory uses.  Mr. Murphy stated the larger developments do

have larger-sized clubhouses, etc.

 

 

December 9, 2002                                                           Planning Commission - page 6 of 8

 

 

Mr. Shavel stated he would object to a gated community; however, no other Planning

Commission members were in agreement with Mr. Shavel’s suggestion. 

 

There was discussion on street widths. Mr. Shavel stated if the Township is going to plow

and maintain the streets, he feels they should require full cartway width.  He stated the

narrow roads cannot be plowed cleanly.  Mr. Murphy stated he would agree that the

narrow streets should be privately owned and this is how most of the communities he is

familiar with are handled.  Mr. Shavel stated he feels they should make sure that the fire

trucks can take access through the streets. Ms. Frick stated the Fire Plan Reviewer will

look into this and additional hydrants could be required.

 

There was a discussion on the difference between a Condominium and Homeowners

Association.  Mr. Murphy stated if there is a fee simple lot, it would be a Homeowners

Association.  It was noted that regardless of the type of Association, prior to Final

Approval, the Board of Supervisors would be provided for their approval a set of the

regulations to be placed upon the residents. 

 

Mr. Murphy stated they should consider a minimum resource protected land requirement. 

He stated the draft Ordinance requires that the site have at least 25% resource protected

land.  He stated they felt the Township would not want to encourage this type of

development on properties that were largely farmland.  These projects would be largely

infill-type acreage.  The Planning Commission agreed to include this restriction.

 

There was further discussion on the steep slope requirement.  Mr. Murphy stated the

Ordinance suggests a 5% deviation from the Ordinance requirements.  This was acceptable

to the Planning Commission.

 

Mr. Shavel stated he still feels this should be tabled and taken up as part of the

Comprehensive Master Plan. Mr. Roeper stated he would recommend that they review if

the proposed amendments for R-1 would present the potential for a challenge to any other

zone. He then feels next year the Planning Commission should look at whether they want

to consider its applicability to the other areas.  Mr. Pazdera stated he feels it is better to have

a comprehensive Ordinance rather than do it piecemeal.  Mr. Roeper stated he would like to

pull everything together that was discussed tonight and make a recommendation to the

Board of Supervisors on the changes to the draft Ordinance before them currently.  He

stated he feels they will get to look at this again because he feels the Board will most likely

ask someone to review a new draft Ordinance.  Mr. Shavel stated he would still like to be

strong in their recommendation that they do not recommend its adoption at this time and an

Age Restricted Ordinance should be considered as part of the new Master Plan. 

Mr. Roeper stated the new Master Plan will most likely not be acted on until the fall of

2003.  Ms. Gould stated they could revise this when they review the Master Plan.

 

Mr. Shavel left the meeting at this time.

 

There was discussion on the enforcement of the age restriction.  Mr. Murphy stated in his

experience at least one occupant of the household must be age fifty-five.

 

Ms. Gould moved and Mr. Pazdera seconded to recommend to the Board of Supervisors

that if they feel they must act on the proposed Ordinance, that they do so with consideration

given to the recommended changes and provisions to be included in the proposed Age-

Qualified Ordinance as attached. The Board of Supervisors should consider tabling the

December 9, 2002                                                           Planning Commission - page 7 of 8

 

 

proposed Ordinance at this time until a more comprehensive review by the Planning

Commission can be done including all zoning Districts.

 

Mr. Gary Cruzan stated he feels the Township should consider the people who sit in the

audience during these discussions and should make copies of the information available for

them to follow during the discussion. He stated the residents are not able to follow what is

being done and the Township does not care.  Ms. Frick stated if they want to call the office

about what they might be interested in that is on the Agenda, they could try to get them

copies.

 

Mr. Matthew Bolger asked about the setbacks in relation to resource preservation land.  It

was noted that they will require a twenty foot rear yard with fifteen feet exclusive of the

resource protection land. 

 

Ms. Dana Weyrick again asked what tract precipitated the draft of this Ordinance. 

Mr. Roeper stated the Planning Commission does not have this information. 

Mr. Stainthorpe stated no project has been proposed for them for any specific tract of land. 

The Township feels this is a trend and felt it should be included in the Ordinance. He stated

this keeps additional children out of the Schools and preserves open space. Ms. Weyrick

stated she feels this is being “ramrodded” through the Township to satisfy a specific

developer.  Mr. Roeper stated the Township does not know about a specific tract and is not

concerned with a specific tract but rather is considering an Ordinance for the Township as a

whole. 

 

Motion to approve carried unanimously.

 

 

COMPREHENSIVE MASTER PLAN UPDATE  DISCUSSION

 

Mr. Roeper stated he and Ms. Frick met and reviewed the information from Lynn Bush

with respect to the public meeting and the Press Release that was to be sent to the

newspapers.  They had worked out an understanding with respect to how much time

should be spent on the various items.  The Press Releases were sent out by Ms. Frick and

then it was determined that Ms. Frick had four different developments which had to be put

on the Agenda unless extensions were granted.  At that point they felt that they would not

have sufficient time to give the public an ample opportunity to present their views on the

Comprehensive Master Plan Update.  They discussed with Ms. Bush whether it would be a

problem to cancel the public meeting at this time and the Press Releases were subsequently

pulled.  He asked Ms. Bush if they should set a date for the public meeting sometime in

January or proceed as rapidly as possible to get a Draft of the Master plan so that they could

possibly consider the Draft and have the public comment at that time so they have a draft

available to discuss.  Ms. Bush stated in light of the information that was gathered in the

residents’ questionnaire, she felt they could take this course of action and bring the

community in at the time they have a draft of the Master Plan which could be released for

public comment.  Mr. Roeper stated he recommends that they discuss this again at the first

meeting in January at which time he will have a progress report from Ms. Bush as to where

she stands on the preparation.  They can then decide when to hold the public meeting.

 

 

 

 

December 9, 2002                                                           Planning Commission - page 8 of 8

 

 

Mr. Roeper stated he did receive a memo from Ms. Langtry who indicated she wanted to

bring in the person who did the Edgewood Village study to make a presentation during the

Master Plan Update public meeting.  They had previously indicated that they would give

each speaker five minutes, and he did not feel that this would be sufficient time for that

individual to speak on this matter.  Ms. Langtry is now asking that they be permitted to

come before the Planning Commission at one of their meetings to make a presentation. 

Ms. Gould stated she would be in favor of having a presentation, but feels they should be

restricted to thirty minutes.  It was agreed that this would be scheduled for the second

meeting in January.  Mr. Roeper stated he would like someone from Bucks County to be

present as well when this is discussed, and he will contact Ms. Bush.

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Mr. Roeper stated the first meeting in January will be the re-organization meeting.

 

 

There being no further business, Ms. Gould moved, Mr. Pazdera seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 10:15 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

                       

                                                                        Deborah Gould, Secretary