TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES - JANUARY 27, 2003

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on January 27, 2003.  Chairman Roeper called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. and introduced Andrew Strauss, the recently-appointed member of the Planning Commission.  He noted Mr. Strauss brings with him a background in planning both in education and occupation.

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:   Albert Roeper, Chairman

                                                John Pazdera, Vice Chairman

                                                Michael Shavel, Secretary

                                                Deborah Gould, Member

                                                Andrew Strauss, Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                John Koopman, Township Solicitor

                                                James Majewski, Township Engineer

                                                Pete Stainthorpe, Supervisor Liaison

                                                Lynn Bush, Bucks County Planning Commission

                                                Gail Freedman, Bucks County Planning Commission

 

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

Mr. Pazdera moved, Ms. Gould seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of December 9, 2002 as corrected.

 

 

EDGEWOOD VILLAGE VISION PLAN

 

Ms. Ann Langtry, Mr. Carter VanDyke, Mr. Jack Breuer, Ms. Michelle Stambaugh, and

Ms. Susanne Curran were present.  Ms. Langtry stated they are reviewing the Ordinances

and intend to tighten a number of them.  They are trying to educate the property owners in

Edgewood Village as to the standards and guidelines for architectural alterations and any

infill structures.  She provided a guidelines booklet to the Planning Commission.  This booklet was prepared by Mr. VanDyke with grant money.  They also provided a copy of the March Associates study and the Master Plan Update Questionnaire.  They have not yet received funding for the Vision Plan and would like to move into this next phase. 

Ms. Langtry stated that they had become a Certified Local Government.  This allows them to qualify for a number of grants.  Ten years ago it was also recommended that there be a Village Study and that is what they are present this evening to discuss.

 

Mr. VanDyke stated currently Edgewood Village is a blighted community.  He noted it is

on the National Trust for Historic Structures. He stated Edgewood Village is also a cultural

center of Lower Makefield Township.  They are concerned about safety issues because of

the speed of the traffic and difficulty in crossing the streets.  He stated the property values

will increase which will result in ratables for the Township as the area is improved.  He

stated the Guidelines were developed to create incentives for residents and business people. 

Mr. VanDyke stated they reviewed the Ordinances as they relate to the District and have

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made some recommendations.  This was a request of the National Historic Trust.  He

stated they also developed some resources for homeowners listing where they could find

the proper materials for rehabilitation of their properties.  The March Associates Plan also

recommended some street improvements and what needs to be done today is to develop

street design standards in order to improve safety.  They are also concerned about

beautification to encourage people to re-invest in their properties.  They would like to bring

this up to a design phase so that they can develop projects and then go out for grants.  He

stated they would work closely with a traffic engineer.  They would like to also make

recommendations for changes needed to the Ordinances.  He stated this is a key time to do

so because they hope to have public sewer and water installed in the area in a few years. 

 

Ms. Langtry stated since the Township is currently undergoing a Master Plan Update, they would like to request funding to pay for Mr. VanDyke’s services to proceed to the next step.  She stated they estimate this cost to be approximately $16,000.

 

Mr. Stephen Heinz stated he feels the Planning Commission should be proactive in this

instance.  He stated he would like the Planning Commission to recommend to the Board of

Supervisors that they proceed with this project.

 

Ms. Langtry stated once the Village is sewered they foresee a strong chance for

development which includes both infill structures and the potential for demolition.  She

stated they are trying to create on paper what they would like to see in this area which is a

mixed use community including retail, residential, restaurants, parking, and stormwater

management.

 

Mr. Roeper asked if the proposed sewering of Edgewood Village has been scheduled.

Mr. Koopman stated the Sewer Authority has recommended to the Board of Supervisors

that this be one of the priority areas in the Township.  Mr. Koopman stated it is on the Five

Year Capital Improvement Plan.  Mr. Roeper stated it appears that they would have two to

three years before sewers would be installed. 

 

Mr. VanDyke stated he feels this year they could prepare the Plan and next year look for the

funding.  Ms. Gould asked if the $16,000 would include grant writing, and

Mr. VanDyke stated they would find the sources, but the grant writing is typically done by

the Township.

 

Ms. Gould stated in the Planning Commission’s discussions of Age-Qualified Housing,

they had not considered the Historic/Commercial area, and she feels this would be a good

place to include this use.  Ms. Langtry agreed that this is something they should look into. 

She stated the Historic Commission is still working on recommendations for changes to the Ordinances.  Ms. Gould stated the Planning Commission is under a time constraint with regard not only to the Master Plan but also with Age-Restricted Housing.  Ms. Langtry agreed to provide to the Planning Commission the memo Mr. VanDyke prepared with regard to proposed Ordinance changes.

 

Mr. Roeper stated they hope to have a draft of the Master Plan available by February or

early March and this information presented by Ms. Langtry should be included. 

 

Ms. Langtry stated one of the questions on the Questionnaire was “Do you support

preservation of historic structures throughout the Township,” and 76% stated they did. 

There was another question about support for the preservation of Edgewood Village, and

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only 45% stated they did.  She stated she is concerned that there is a public perception

problem with regard to Edgewood Village and she is concerned that much of the public

does not really know where Edgewood Village is and may be confusing it with the nearby

shopping center. 

 

Ms. Gould asked if the study done by Mr. VanDyke is available to the public, and

Ms. Langtry stated they printed 500 copies and it is also downloadable from the Township

Website.  They sent out one to every property owner in Edgewood Village.

 

Ms. Bush stated their Plan will include a section on historic concerns and historic

preservation and they have prepared a draft of this which will be finalized following this

evening’s meeting.

 

Ms. Freedman asked about the relationship between what Mr. VanDyke will do in Phase II and the March Plan.  Mr. VanDyke stated they will address traffic, safety, the streetscape and beautification. He stated the business sector needs to start the process, and the private

sector will follow which will result in greater property values.  Ms. Langtry stated the

March Associates study does set out specific goals and strategies.  She stated that they have proceeded with many of the long-term and short-term strategies. 

 

Ms. Gould asked if there are Village guidelines.  Ms. Bush stated the Bucks County

Planning Commission does have this, and she feels they should look at this along with

Mr. VanDyke’s work.

 

 

#508 - VALLEY DAY SCHOOL FINAL PLAN APPROVAL

 

Mr. Chris Luning, attorney, Mr. Phil Kashner, engineer, and Mr. Rick Buckholtz,

representing Hovnanian, were present.  Mr. Luning stated they have been working with the

Township consultants revising the Plans hoping to get a clean review letter.  He stated the

property is sixteen acres located off Mill Road.  Quaker Group was the previous applicant.

The PCS letter dated January 2, 2003 was noted.  Mr. Luning stated they would agree to

the conditions imposed in the PCS letter.  He stated they have obtained an easement from

Pennsylvania American for a pipe to go through their property which relates to the sewers. 

They also agreed to obtain a License Agreement and the Township solicitor has reviewed

this.  He stated it is possible that the License Agreement could expire in 2034, and they are

trying to get this amended and any recommendation from the Planning Commission could

be conditioned upon satisfaction resolution of this matter.

 

Mr. Shavel asked what they will do with the back of the lots that border the railroad.

Mr. Kashner stated there is existing vegetation which will act as a buffer.  Mr. Luning

stated they will provide additional buffering if the existing vegetation is not sufficient. 

The existing vegetation is on their property and not in the railroad right-of-way.

 

Mr. Strauss asked if the Township has approved developments in the past that utilize

License Agreements. Mr. Koopman stated they have had this in the past.  He stated in this

case, they want to make sure that whatever Agreement is entered into between the railroad

and the developer, the Township will be protected.  Mr. Koopman stated they want to

insure that the Agreement will be in perpetuity.  He stated any recommendation made by the

Planning Commission should be conditioned upon compliance with the 1/7/03 and 1/8/03

letters from Mr. Garton and the December 26, 2002 CKS letter. 

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Mr. Roeper asked who will own the open space areas.  Mr. Luning stated the open space

will be dedicated to the Township.  Ms. Gould stated she is concerned about who will

maintain this open space and noted she does recall having discussed this matter when they

were reviewing the Plans with the Quaker Group.  She particularly noted her concern with

Open Space Lot C where there is no access in order to maintain this area.  Mr. Luning stated he was under the impression that the Township wanted to own the three open space parcels.  He stated all three of the areas will be maintained as meadow and will only be cut three times the first year and just one time each year thereafter.  Ms. Frick read from the Board of Supervisors Minutes of the meeting dated 3/18 where it states they were to advise the potential homeowners as part of Truth-In-Advertising, that they would be looking at a basin that will only be cut two times per year.  Ms. Bush stated there could be a problem with subsequent purchasers.  Mr. Luning stated they could put a Deed Restriction on as well in addition to the public offering statements.  Mr. Koopman stated it has been the practice of the Township to own the detention basins.  Mr. Roeper stated they could include a comment about this in the recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

 

Mr. Shavel asked if they propose a fence between the properties and the railroad, and

Mr. Luning stated they do not propose a fence.  Mr. Shavel stated he is concerned with

building along the Septa line, which is a very active line, and their intention to only install

shrubbery.  He is concerned with the potential for children to walk along the Railroad line,

and he feels there should be a fence.  Ms. Gould asked where they would stop the fence

since children could simply walk around it.  Mr. Buckholtz suggested that they go to CSX

and get their input before they go to the Board of Supervisors.  Ms. Gould stated if they

put up a fence, they would also have to take down trees.  Ms. Frick stated they would have

to advise the homeowners that they would be responsible for maintaining the fence. 

Ms. Gould stated she is concerned about a fence being placed in an area which is not to be

disturbed.  Mr. Luning agreed to look into this matter.   Mr. Strauss stated he is concerned

with houses being sixty feet from an active Railroad line.  Ms. Gould stated in other areas

of the Township, there are homes which do not have fences abutting Railroad tracks. 

Mr. Majewski stated if stakes were set where a fence would be located, they could

determine if it is possible to install a fence without disturbing the exiting trees and

vegetation.  It was noted Lots 9, 10, and 11 are very shallow lots.

 

Mr. Pazdera moved and Ms. Gould seconded to recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of the Final Plans for Valley Day School dated 5/12/99, last revised 11/27/02 subject to:

 

            1)  Compliance with PCS letter dated 1/2/03;

            2)  Compliance with CKS letter dated 12/26/02;

            3)  Compliance with Mr. Garton’s letters dated 1/7/03 and 1/8/03;

            4)  Recommended that the Applicant consult with CSX and get a recommendation

                   from them regarding fencing along the right-of-way of the Railroad tracks;

            5)  Recommended that the Applicant include in their public notifications that some

                   lots will require Variances for future improvements. 

 

 

Mr. David Young, 589 Hearthstone Drive, stated he abuts Lot #11 and is concerned with

the traffic which will be generated from this new development.  He asked about installation

of crosswalks to the bikepath and ways to slow down the traffic.  He stated he currently

benefits from the trees on this Applicant’s property, and he will now have a clear view of

Mill Road into his rear yard if trees are taken down.  He asked that trees be installed along

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Mill Road.  Mr. Roeper stated he does not feel they would have any objection to stripping

the Road to get to the crosswalk.  Mr. Luning agreed to discuss landscaping with

Mr. Young.

 

Ms. Dana Weyrick, 1512 Brock Creek Drive, stated she feels the title of this Application is

confusing to the general public as the name may lead the public to believe it is a School.  She stated it should be more clearly delineated on the Agenda that this is a development plan.

 

Motion carried with Ms. Gould, Mr. Pazdera, and Mr. Roeper in favor, Mr. Shavel

opposed, and Mr. Strauss abstained.

 

 

COMPREHENSIVE MASTER PLAN UPDATE FROM BUCKS COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION REPRESENTATIVES

 

Ms. Freedman stated they are close to completing the first draft of the Master Plan.  The

section where there may be changes is the one involving various Land Uses and there will be further discussions on this with the Planing Commission.

 

Ms. Bush stated they have followed the format of the 1992 Plan and updated and changed

it. There are some questions they cannot answer themselves.  She stated there are choices

as to how they address the remaining land.  She feels this will be an area for discussion

with the Planning Commission.  She stated they will provide twenty copies this week and

this will be the working draft. 

 

Mr. Roeper stated this will be discussed at the first meeting in February. This will not be

the public hearing.  Ms. Frick stated the public hearing will be advertised in due time.  She

stated the public hearing would be held after they revise the working draft.  Mr. Roeper

stated the last time they revised the Master Plan, they had working groups that met between

regular Planning Commission meetings and they had representatives from the various

organizations such as HARB, Sewer Authority etc. to discuss it before the first draft was

available to the public.  Mr. Koopman stated they could proceed in this fashion again this

time.  Mr. Roeper stated he would like to have the public hearing on the draft before the

end of April so that it can be finalized to reflect the public comments and then submitted to

the Board of Supervisors sometime in May for their comments. Mr. Roeper stated the

responses submitted in the questionnaires are what is guiding the preparation of the first

draft.

 

Ms. Bush was asked to be in attendance at the February 10 meeting with the first draft for

review. 

 

 

DISCUSSION OF PROPOSED AGE-QUALIFIED ORDINANCE

 

Mr. Roeper stated he provided to the Planning Commission, and this evening to Ms. Bush,

information on the discussions held by the Board of Supervisors at their last meeting

regarding the Age-Qualified Ordinance. He stated the Planning Commission should

consider if they want to use an overlay approach that would be site specific, come up with a

new use which could be permitted in certain districts, or propose both as options to the

Board of Supervisors and have them make the decision. He stated if they choose the

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overlay approach, they will have to look at each piece of property and decide whether or

not to include it in the overlay.  He stated he feels they should also justify any decision they

make as to why a particular piece of property was or was not included. 

 

Mr. Koopman stated the original concept was that there might be different requirements for 

R-1 than for R-3.  Mr. Majewski stated originally they looked at R-1 only.  They then

looked at R-2 and R-3 and felt for R-2 and R-3, they could bring down the tract size and

change the overall density although it was not really very much different from the R-1

requirements.  They then considered whether it should be more site specific and whether

they should include or exclude certain tracts where it may or may not be permitted.

 

Ms. Bush stated she feels they should consider where it makes sense in the Township to

permit this use.  She stated Ms. Freedman has done quite a bit of work in this area and

there are many of these types of developments being built in the County.  Ms. Bush noted

the Edgewood Village location may be a good location since the residents could walk to the

supermarket.   Mr. Majewski stated the only parcel available in Edgewood Village is the ten

acre tract adjacent to Heston Hall.  He stated they did look at certain parcels where there

was only one home on five acres which could be put together with an adjoining vacant

parcel.

 

Mr. Strauss asked why they are considering a twenty-five acre minimum.  Mr. Roeper

stated a proposal was submitted to the Board of Supervisors recommending Age-Qualified

Housing in R-1, and this came to the Planning Commission for consideration.  They made

recommendations with respect to certain criteria.  Those recommendations were accepted

by the Board of Supervisors for the most part.  The twenty-five acre limitation was in the

proposed Ordinance and at that time seemed reasonable to the Planning Commission as far

as R-1 was concerned.  The Planning Commission had previously indicated that the

Township should address Age-Qualified Housing when they considered the Master Plan

update since this was favorably mentioned in the questionnaire as something that the

Township should consider.  The Planning Commission decided to broaden the discussion

beyond R-1.  They discussed whether ten acres may be a figure to consider.  Mr. Roeper

stated they could recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they consider adopting the

present Ordinance with the changes recommended by the Planning Commission and then

address in the Master Plan as to what they should do in the rest of the Township.

 

Ms. Bush stated that some people contend that this use could result in lessening the impact on the School District but, she noted that this should not be the reason to proceed with this use since it has been untested.  She stated they have found that someone who lives in the School District who moves into this type of housing usually sells their property to a young family with children. 

 

Mr. Roeper stated older people want a parcel where they do not have to take care of the

exterior and you cannot do that on a standard lot currently offered in the Township. 

Mr. Koopman stated what was being proposed was small lot singles with 50% of the land

left as open space and the exterior of the property being maintained by other than the

homeowners.

 

Ms. Gould stated she is concerned with the element of exclusivity the current proposal

creates. 

 

 

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Mr. Majewski stated when they were only considering R-1 they were looking at what was

already permitted in R-1 so that it would be compatible with what was already in the zone.

 

Mr. Gary Cruzan stated that there should be a District created for this use.  He is

concerned that if this is opened up in all the Districts, it will create a building boom.  He

stated he does not feel the existing residents want a building boom.  He does not want the

Township to continue to accommodate developers.  Ms. Gould stated that they are trying to accommodate the older residents of the Township who currently live here and want to be able to remain in the Township.  Mr. Koopman stated there is already a building boom; and if they do not act on this option quickly, they will most likely have the rest of the Township developed in the same way it has in the past.  Mr. Cruzan stated he feels the Township should think about re-zoning some of the existing residential zones to slow down the development and then create an area for Age-Restricted Housing to accommodate the needs of the people.  Ms. Gould stated she is concerned that if they only chose a few parcels, they will open up the Township to problems.  Mr. Koopman stated the original approach was that they would only permit this use in R-1 provided they met the criteria.  Ms. Bush stated if they are going to hand pick sites, you would have to have very specific criteria and list the reasons why a particular site would not meet the criteria. 

 

Ms. Gould stated she feels they should try to accommodate their own citizens.

Mr. Koopman stated he has heard that older residents of Lower Makefield want to remain

in Lower Makefield but cannot remain in their large homes.  The Township should decide

what they want to offer these individuals.  Mr. Cruzan stated that they should offer

something in the price range of $250,000.  He stated this would result in their ability to sell

their large homes and have some money left over after purchasing the new home.  He feels

they could permit a higher-density for this use. 

 

Ms. Weyrick stated she feels there is something wrong with the way this entire issue came

about since it was brought to the Township by Mr. Murphy who represents developers in

the Township. She is concerned that it appears that he was the one creating the Ordinance. 

She stated she feels there may be a conflict of interest.  Mr. Roeper stated one of the major

items they discussed one and a half years ago was that they wanted to consider to Age-

Qualified Housing.  They are discussing it now so that they can properly review it and

make a decision somewhat along the same lines as they would have in the Master Plan. 

Ms. Weyrick stated she wants to know what tract the developer was considering for this

use.  Mr. Roeper stated this has no bearing on the discussions this evening. 

 

Mr. Shavel stated after further consideration he now feels they should offer a Traditional

Neighborhood Development as an option in the R-1. 

 

Ms. Freedman stated there is an enormous variety of Age-Restricted Housing in the County

ranging in price from $179,000 to $450,000.  Ms. Gould stated if they do this in R-1, she

is concerned that the prices will start at $350,000.   Mr. Roeper stated if there is a higher

density permitted, they should be able to reduce the price.  Mr. Koopman stated he is

concerned  that if they put a high density development in the middle of the R-1 District,

some people may not be happy with this. 

 

Mr. Roeper stated he does not feel a tract of twenty-five acres would be large enough to

provide such amenities as a community center, pool, etc. and asked how important these

are to provide.  Ms. Gould stated some of the developments being built are providing very

small clubhouses but not the other amenities since the residents already belong to other

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facilities such as gyms and pools.  Mr. Roeper stated the center at Palmer Farm is very well

used. 

 

Mr. Strauss stated he feels they should determine who they are building for, their tenure,

and the density.  He stated on thirty acres there could be a mix of housing types and the

density could go up to bring the price down. 

 

Mr. Roeper stated the Board of Supervisors has asked that the Planning Commission make

a recommendation by March 3 as to what is the best way to proceed with Age-Qualified

Housing. 

 

Mr. Pazdera stated he would like to have something showing where the open parcels are,

and Mr. Majewski agreed to provide copies of the map showing these parcels as well as the

zoning.   Ms. Gould stated she would also like them to consider adding the Historic/

Commercial as a zone where this would be permitted.  She stated she would like to have

information on the Traditional Neighborhood Community, and Ms. Bush agreed to provide

information on this.  Mr. Shavel stated he feels it would be helpful to get input form both

developers and senior citizens although he noted this may not be a practical request. 

 

Mr. Cruzan stated the Township is sitting on a lot of open space dollars, and he feels the

Township should consider buying some of these open parcels so there is not run-away

development.

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Mr. Roeper stated the Board of Supervisors tabled the Metz Tract at their meeting on Monday since they are still looking into the use of the Orchard Hill Basin.

 

 

There being no further business, Ms. Gould moved, Mr. Pazdera seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 10:25 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                        Michael Shavel, Secretary