TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES - SEPTEMBER 23, 2002

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on September 23, 2002.  Chairman Roeper called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:               Albert Roeper, Chairman

                                                Ron Tofel, Vice Chairman

                                                Deborah Gould, Secretary

                                                John Pazdera, Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                Pete Stainthorpe, Supervisor Liaison

                                   

Absent:                                     Michael Shavel, Planning Commission Member

 

 

ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENT DISCUSSION

 

Mr. Roeper stated last week he received the Agenda for the Board of Supervisors meeting

which included the discussion of a possible amendment to the Zoning Ordinance in order to

permit an age-qualified residential zoning in the Township.  A draft amendment had been

prepared by the Township Solicitor.  The Board of Supervisors asked that the Solicitor add

a description of an over-fifty-five community to the amendment.  Mr. Roeper stated he

objected that the Planning Commission had not seen this and had not heard about this

matter previously.  Mr. Roeper stated he would be opposed to an age-qualified community

in the R-1 area consisting of the two Wright farms and a portion of the Torbert farm south

of I-95.  He does not feel this would be an appropriate location because of the proximity to

Route 332 and Lindenhurst Road and the impact of the noise and traffic.  He noted there is

a requirement that the property be at least twenty-five acres.  Ms. Gould stated she feels

that any developer would do marketing studies to determine a suitable location.

 

 

COMPREHENSIVE MASTER PLAN UPDATE

 

Ms. Lynn Bush and Ms. Gayle Freedman from the Bucks County Planning Commission

were present. 

 

Mr. Roeper stated Ms. Frick has received additional questionnaires and to date they have

received 1130 which represents a 38% return.  Mr. Roeper stated he did not receive the

questionnaire back from the Farmland Preservation Corporation although they have

indicated they will submit it shortly. 

 

Ms. Bush stated they are using the 1990 Master Plan as a template.  They will be able to update the information on the population of the Township using the recent Census information.  She stated the Township grew in size from 1990 to 2000 but not as quickly as the previous decade.  The average age in the Township is slightly older than the County as a whole.  Like most of Bucks County, Lower Makefield has shown a decline in young people in the Township - those aged 20 to 24.  Lower Makefield’s largest age group is 35 - 44 which is approximately one fifth of the population.  About 10% of the Township’s population is over 65.  Lower Makefield has one of the highest incomes in the County and one of highest percentage of educated residents.  Sixty-one percent of the population are college graduates compared to the County percentage which is twenty-six percent. Ms. Bush stated they will provide all of this information to the Planning Commission.

 

Ms. Bush stated that in terms of the Citizen Questionnaires they have received, most comments fall into three categories -  1) growth/management/development/traffic/open space; 2)  taxes, schools, preserving infrastructure, and 3) low priority were items such as affordable housing, job availability, and flooding. 

 

Ms. Bush stated they will set up a way to analyze the questionnaires and look at the concerns of new residents compare to the concerns of long-time residents.   Ms. Bush stated they will tabulate the questionnaires and provide information to the Planning Commission.

 

Ms. Bush stated she feels Lower Makefield has had a very clear vision of what they want to be.  She asked if the Planning Commission feels they should stay on this course or consider some departures.  She stated she feels the over fifty-five housing discussion is very germane to the Comprehensive Plan.

 

Mr. Tofel stated there are always discussions about the roads including discussions about whether the Township should be taking over some of the State roads.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated they are considering taking over Edgewood Road so that they can reduce the speed limit lower than the State will permit on a State road.  He stated this matter was brought to the Board by the citizens.   Mr. Stainthorpe stated there have also been discussions about taking over Lindenhurst Road to help control the quarry truck traffic.  Mr. Roeper stated the question he has, which he does not feel has been answered, is whether the Township can really bar the trucks from using the road once owned by the Township.  There has also been discussion about the contribution the State makes toward maintenance if the Township takes over a State road, and Mr. Stainthorpe stated he feels the State will pay the Township a yearly maintenance fee.  Ms. Bush stated she was not sure that the State would pay this in perpetuity.  Mr. Tofel stated he does feel that traffic is a big issue with residents.  Mr. Roeper asked if Scudders Falls Bridge should be referenced in the Master Plan to which Ms. Bush stated she feels traffic on the Bridge is only going to get worse.  She stated Lower Makefield is also accepting traffic from outside the Township because of the roads going through the Township.  She feels this would be an appropriate discussion for the Master Plan. 

 

Mr. Stainthorpe stated he feels funds have been put into the State budget to construct an additional bridge into New Jersey. 

 

Ms. Bush noted the potential of re-zoning certain farm tracts to O/R.  Mr. Roeper stated he would like to look at all the available land and review how it is zoned and consider whether they should make a recommendation that there be a modification of the zoning in certain locations.  He noted he feels the Wright Farms and portions of the Torbert Farm should be considered for O/R.  He noted there are also other pockets around the Township which he feels should be reviewed with the viewpoint of changing them from R-1 to R-2 or to a commercial zone.  He stated he feels the Board of Supervisors would be agreeable to an omnibus zoning change rather than a change to a specific tract.  He noted that the Planning

 

Commission is only a recommending body and the Board of Supervisors would have the final decision.   Ms. Bush stated she feels it is appropriate to look at this at this time.  Ms. Frick stated there is a map available of Township open space that was updated 4/15/02.  Ms. Bush stated they can review this at a future meeting.  Mr. Roeper stated one of Ms. Bush’s planners may want to review this first and make suggestions which could be brought to the Planning Commission for review.     

 

Mr. Roeper stated he also feels they should consider what will happen with all of the Farmland Preservation land and open space in the next ten years.  He stated he is concerned that there will be pressure of some sort to utilize this land in other ways.  He stated he also feels finances are going to become a problem in the next four to five years.  He stated people are asking for more parks, open space, and properties such as Elm Lowne which cost money.  He noted Township income is also going to go down in the future.  Ms. Gould stated the maintenance of historic buildings owned by the Township is going to cost the Township money as well.  Mr. Roeper stated they also have a tremendous amount of open space that has been dedicated to the Township, and the cost of maintaining this to

the satisfaction of adjacent homeowners is going to be a significant expense.  Ms. Gould stated she feels Lower Makefield looks sloppier now than it did five years ago and the open space is not being mowed as often. 

 

Mr. Roeper stated he also feels they should mention Rock Run dam in the Master Plan.

 

Ms. Gould stated they should also mention the sewering of Edgewood Village.  Mr. Roeper stated the Edgewood Village study should be noted either by reference or as an appendix.  Ms. Freedman stated Mr. Hoffmeister indicated that Edgewood Village was next to be sewered and it was to be done with funding from the last bond issue. Mr. Roeper stated there are a number of septic systems in the Delaware Rim area, and he feels in the next ten years the Township will have to put public sewers and water in this area. 

 

Ms. Bush asked if there is still discussion about a Senior Center or Performing Arts Center.  Mr. Roeper stated he does not feel there will be a Performing Art Center in the next five to ten years but something may occur with regard to a Senior Center.  He added he would be curious to know how many respondents of the survey over age sixty-five felt there should not be a Senior Center. 

 

Ms. Bush stated she did not see as much support for the historic preservation concept as she felt there would be in the questionnaire responses.  She stated in the past, the Board of Supervisors expressed interest in this.  She asked if the Township is still concerned about preserving some of the older buildings in new proposed developments if the Township would not have to maintain them.  Ms. Frick stated the Palmer Farm structure is a good example of a historic structure which was preserved and which fits in well with the community.  Ms. Gould stated she feel this needs to be addressed in the planning of a community to make sure the structure is worthy of saving and that it is done in the proper fashion without becoming an expense to the taxpayers.  Ms. Bush stated she feels they can help in this regard and can make some recommendations and encourage that the historic property have sufficient land around it. 

 

Ms. Bush noted the Farmland Preservation developments in the Township. She stated the Ordinance was changed in the 1990’s to make it a little harder to develop in this fashion and asked if this preference has changed.  Ms. Gould stated she feels the Farmland Preservation developments work well and the properties also sell well.  Mr. Roeper stated they could suggest loosening it up again to accomplish what they were looking for originally.  Ms. Bush noted Farmview in particular which is a very successful community.  She noted people come from other parts of the country to look at this development.  She stated Lower Makefield had the first successful Farmland Preservation development in Farmview and it remains a good model.  Ms. Gould stated it is also good for the taxpayers to develop in this way. 

 

Ms. Bush stated one of the requirements under the MPC is that they discuss the surrounding communities and how development will impact the surrounding community.Mr. Stainthorpe noted the Matrix project and stated there has been virtually no dialogue between the Lower Makefield Supervisors and the Middletown Supervisors.  Mr. Roeper stated he has had discussions with the Chairman of the Middletown Planning Commission

in the past, and they have kept each other advised as to what was going on which might be of interest.  He has never had discussions with a Falls Township Planning Commission member nor have there been any recent discussions with Newtown Planning Commission members.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated the Lower Makefield Township Board of Supervisors has tried to reach out to the surrounding communities with regard to Lindenhurst Road and

traffic in general, but there has been no response. 

 

Ms. Bush stated they would like to put together some of the basic elements of the Plan and distribute it to the Planning Commission for their review and future discussion. She noted Mr. Roeper will be away in October and they may want to wait until his return in November.  Mr. Roeper asked about holding public meetings.  Ms. Bush stated she felt a public meeting would be advisable.  She stated they will also have public meetings when the Plan is being considered for adoption.   Mr. Roeper suggested that they hold a meeting with the representatives from Township Boards and Commissions first and then schedule a public meeting.  Since the first regularly-scheduled Planning Commission meeting would fall on Veterans Day which is a Holiday, it was suggested that this meeting be held Wednesday, November 13 or Wednesday, November 20 depending on space available at the Township Building.  Since the second regularly-scheduled Planning Commission in November would be Thanksgiving week, it was suggested that the public meeting not be held until the Planning Commission’s first meeting in December - December 9.  Mr. Tofel asked how the public will be advised of this meeting, and Ms. Frick stated they will advertise it in the newspaper and on the cable channel. 

 

Mr. Roeper asked about funds expended by the Bucks County Planning Commission for the project to date, and Ms. Bush stated normally they do their work for the amount of money which was agreed upon unless something exceptional arises. 

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Mr. Roeper stated he has been approached by a member of the group interested in the Metz property about adding additional land to the main lot.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated he feels they are looking to get a five acre tract as there has been interest expressed in this property being used as a museum.  Mr. Roeper stated this would impact the amount of woods that could be preserved on the tract.  Mr. Roeper noted the Delaware Riverkeepper has indicated that land on this tract is shale; and if they dig down deep enough, they could use it rather than have it drain down to the detention basin.

 

 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

 

                                                                       

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

                                                                        Deborah Gould, Secretary