TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES - JUNE 23, 2003

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on June 23, 2003.Chairman Roeper called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m.

 

Those present:†††††††††††††

 

Planning Commission:†† Albert Roeper, Chairman

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† John Pazdera, Vice Chairman

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Deborah Gould, Member

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Andrew Strauss, Member

 

Others:†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (joined meeting in progress)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Timothy Duffy, Township Solicitor

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† James Majewski, Township Engineer

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Drew Wagner, Township Engineer

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Pete Stainthorpe, Supervisor Liaison

 

Absent:†††††††††††††††††††††††† Michael Shavel, Planning Commission Secretary

 

 

#322-D - SCAMMELLíS CORNER INFORMAL SKETCH PLAN

 

Mr. Roeper advised the Planning Commission that this property has been before the

Planning Commission four to five times since 1987.Prior to that time there was some

discussion as to the use of the property for a school, and the property came before the

Planning Commission because of traffic patterns and other matters.One of the major

planning problems with the parcel are the steep slopes.There is also a rather large historic

home on the property.At one point in time approximately seven to eight years ago it was

proposed that the house be broken up into apartments as part of a residential community.

At that point the Board of Supervisors did not look favorably on this apartment-type

arrangement for this particular house.

 

Following the last Sketch Plan presentation which the developer dropped, the developer cut

down a substantial number of the large trees which were on the property. The Township

cited him for having done so as he had not secured the proper permits.The Township

decision was upheld by the Bucks County Courts.Mr. Duffy stated an equity action

commenced after the woods were destroyed.The property owner also appealed to the

Zoning Hearing Board a validity challenge, and the Zoning Hearing Board upheld the

Ordinance.The property owner subsequently appealed this decision to the Court of

Common Pleas.Following the Zoning Hearing Board decision, the Township brought an

action in District Court and obtained a judgment against the property owner for fines for

violating the Ordinance.This decision was appealed and now the two cases are in the

process of being consolidated.Once the consolidation procedure is over, they will go

forward.

 

Mr. Roeper asked what remedy the Township is seeking.Mr. Duffy stated one is an

equity action and part of the relief in this case is to put trees back on the property.The

Court must decide whether the property owner will have to do so.The other remedy the

June 23, 2003††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† Planning Commission - page 2 of 5

 

 

Township has is penalties. He stated disturbing the woodlands without a permit is a

violation of the Ordinance and they could be subject to a monetary sanction.

 

Ms. Gould asked how the Township is to look at this Plan - as the property exists today or

as it existed prior to the woods being disturbed. Mr. Duffy stated they should look at it as it

previously existed.Ms. Gould stated the plan presented this evening does not reflect the

property as it previously existed.She stated it is showing the current condition. Mr. Duffy

stated this should be considered during the presentation.Ms. Gould asked if it is realistic

for them to ask the applicant to reference plans which were previously presented to show

the condition of the property previously, and Mr. Duffy stated to the extent that there is a

prior plan, they would feel this constitutes the condition of the property at that time.

 

Mr. Steve Dahl, attorney and Mr. Dennis LaRosa, representing Hovnanian were present

with John Hako, engineer.Mr. Dahl stated they are the contract purchaser of this property

as well as the Fieldstone property to be discussed later this evening.He stated they are not

part of the injunction that was brought by the Township.He stated Mr. Hako has prepared

a document listing the relief they would require in the form of Variances and Waivers.

Mr. Dahl stated they are mindful of the history of the property.

 

Ms. Gould asked if the plan was drawn up based on the idea that this is how many homes

they can fit on the property regardless of the condition, or did they review the Ordinances

and then draw up the Plans.Mr. Dahl stated they did look at the density permitted and then

considered the Variances and Waivers they would need.

 

Mr. Hako stated they are showing a single family development with twenty-four new

homes and one existing dwelling.It has access from University Drive and Yale Drive and

there are two cul-de-sacs.They are showing two storm water management basins to

alleviate storm water concerns.He stated this is an R-2 District and single-family, detached

dwellings are permitted. The site is eighteen acres.This Plan does not show the

woodlands.The intent was to show the lay out, the roads, the homes, and how they

would tie in storm water management.The property fronts on a State road.

 

Mr. LaRosa stated they do plan to preserve one existing home and will provide a 50í

perimeter buffer to the existing homes.Minimum lot size is 16,000 square feet consistent

with the R-2 Zone.

 

Ms. Frick joined the meeting at this time.

 

Ms. Gould stated she does not feel they can look at the Plan when the ruling has not yet

been determined by the Court.She stated the Applicant has not taken into account that the

land as it exists today is not what can be developed, and they should be drawing this

according to how the land existed previously.Mr. Roeper stated he feels the Applicant is

aware of that, and perhaps is asking for their reaction to this particular design.The

Planning Commission must consider if they are willing to recommend granting the relief

they are requesting.He noted they are not showing an exit onto Yardley-Newtown Road

which is something that had been objected to in the past.

 

Mr. Roeper stated he would like to know what they plan to do with the historic home.

Ms. Gould stated there are a number of historic structures on the property.Mr. LaRosa

stated they are only proposing to retain the large farmhouse.Ms. Gould stated the house

and the structures are on the Township list of historic structures.Mr. LaRosa stated they

June 23, 2003††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† Planning Commission - page 3 of 5

 

 

do not qualify to be on the National Historic register.Ms. Gould stated this is not required

in order for them to be on the Township list.Lot #24 shows the house they plan to retain.

This is the two and a half story stone dwelling.Mr. Roeper stated there is also a one and a

half story stone dwelling on the site as well.Mr. Pazdera noted the 4/21/95 Boucher and

James Plan which shows the other existing structures as well as approximately 1,000 trees

no longer shown on the new Plan.Mr. LaRosa stated they could take a closer look at the

existing structures.Mr. Pazdera stated they are showing much of the large farmhouse

dashed as if it is coming out.Mr. LaRosa stated they need to look into the integrity of the

structures and the additions which were made to see what they will preserve.

 

Mr. Pazdera asked if they have looked at a realistic Plan following the Ordinances to see

how many units they could get, and Mr. LaRosa stated they have not done anything

further.This Plan was their starting point to determine site capacity based on what is on

the site today.

 

Mr. Roeper stated he feels the Board of Supervisors will hold the Applicant very close to

the Ordinance requirements for this property and will be leery of granting any waivers.He

suggested that they meet with the Historic Commission to determine their thinking with

regard to the historic structures.He suggested they also go back and consider what they

could do with the property based on the way the property existed before the trees were

taken down.

 

Ms. Gould stated she feels this will be a major issue with the Planning Commission and the

Board of Supervisors and they will not reward someone who willingly destroyed the

property.

 

Mr. Duffy asked if they have done the calculations looking only at the existing woodlands,

and Mr. Hako stated he personally has not done so.Mr. Pazdera stated they are requesting

relief from the Woodlands Ordinance and asked if this is based on what is there today or

what was there previously.Mr. Majewski stated taking a quick look at the Plan it appears

that they are requesting relief under either case.Mr. Pazdera stated they should come back

with a Plan considering the tract as it was previously and following the existing

Ordinances.Mr. Pazdera also stated it appears that the future homeowners would be coming into the Township for variances to install pools, decks, etc. if the Plan were to be approved as shown.

 

Mr. Majewski stated the detention basin is located in the northern quadrant and he does not

see any easements for that water to discharge to.Mr. Hako stated the way it has been laid

out, they feel they can get all the water in the system and discharge it into a system in

University Drive.†† Ms. Gould noted Item #17 on their list of waivers and advised that the

Township is very concerned about impact of water on adjoining neighbors and the major

road.Mr. Majewski stated they should be advised that there are existing drainage problems

in the vicinity of University Drive, and they should consider an analysis to see if the

downstream system can handle this additional water.

 

Mr. Roeper stated he feels they should discuss the plan with PCS as they are familiar with

the site as well as the Township Ordinance requirements.Ms. Frick stated this matter came

in as an Informal Sketch Plan and no fees were paid.Ms. Gould stated they should also be

aware that the Historic Commission only meets once a month and they should be involved

in the review of the plans as well.

 

June 23, 2003††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† Planning Commission - page 4 of 5

 

#496-N - FIELDSTONE INFORMAL SKETCH PLAN

 

Mr. Steve Dahl, attorney, and Mr. Dennis LaRosa representing Hovnanian were present

with Mr. John Hako, engineer.Mr. Roeper stated the Planning Commission had

previously reviewed a plan for this tract and indicated they would recommend proceeding

with development of the front portion of the property only.The other portion of the

property had been used as a dumping area.Mr. Roeper asked what this Applicant

proposes to do with the landfill area.Mr. Dahl stated they understand that remediation of

the landfill on the site is an important issue. They are aware of the existing litigation and

prior contact with DEP.They will be meeting with the DEP to get a better idea as to what

they feel needs to be done.They understand the Township wants an excavation of the

material and not just a capping.Provided they get the approval, they recognize that the

approval from the Township would be conditioned upon them remediating the land.

 

Mr. Roeper stated until they can satisfy the Township that they can properly remediate the

area and satisfy the DEP, he does not feel it makes any sense discussing a Sketch Plan for

the property.He stated previously the Planning Commission had indicated they would be

in favor of homes in the front portion of the property, but the new Sketch shows the entire

area as being developed.Mr. Dahl asked why they cannot discuss the Plan given their

understanding that remediation will be a condition of approval.He stated they would like

the Planning Commission to consider what waivers and variances they would be amenable

to.Mr. Roeper stated he feels it is too early to consider waivers, etc.Mr. LaRosa stated it

appears the Township is asking them to get the DEP approval first and then come back to

the Township, and they feel this would be a leap of faith to do all the work with DEP and

then have to come back to the Planning Commission.Mr. Strauss asked how they can plan

a project when they do not know what the DEP will require.Mr. LaRosa stated they feel

they will have a clean site and a document from DEP indicating they are released from any

liability.He stated he assumes there will be some post-monitoring sampling required, and

they will have to satisfy the DEPís concerns.He stated early investigation shows it is

construction debris.Mr. Dahl stated they do not feel there was groundwater contamination

that would require well monitoring.Mr. LaRosa stated the DEP is most concerned about

the fill and the dumping that was done in the stream corridor.Mr. Pazdera asked about the

orange ďoozeĒ that is on the property, and Mr. LaRosa stated this is not in the report that

they have seen.

 

Mr. Pazdera asked how this new Plan addresses the eleven pages of issues that were issued

for the Plan the Township previously denied which looks very similar to the Plan now

being presented.Mr. LaRosa stated this Plan has four detention basins.Mr. Pazdera

asked about the crossing of wetlands and floodplain.Mr. LaRosa stated the parcel is

landlocked, and he will go to the Zoning Hearing Board if necessary for relief.

Mr. Pazdera stated this was also an Army Corps issue.Ms. Gould asked about the

possibility of dividing the site into two separate areas so that there is no crossing required.†††

Mr. Hako stated they can meet the DEP permitting requirements for the stream crossing.

It would be a minor crossing.Mr. LaRosa stated they would have to consider the

Township requirements as well.††† Mr. Hako stated there are no wetlands at the crossing

itself - it is only floodplain.

 

Ms. Gould stated they are also asking for a waiver with regard to the design of the

detention basin which has resulted in more lots for the developer.Ms. Gould stated the

Township will want to be able to functionally take care of the detention basins.She also

noted the hedgerow on the site noting the Ordinance protects this as well.She asked that

they look into how this could be incorporated into the Plan.

June 23, 2003††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† Planning Commission - page 5 of 5

 

 

Mr. Dahl noted the existing home on the property and stated he is not sure the Township

feels it has any historic significance.Ms. Gould stated there is a list available and they

should check with the Historic Commission to see if this is considered significant.

 

Mr. Roeper stated after they have had discussions with the environmental people, they

should discuss the Plan with PCS and the Planning Commission could look again at the Sketch Plan; but until they can satisfy the Township that what they intend to do with the landfill portion of the property is acceptable to the Township and the State and will relieve them of any future liability, they should not proceed with a detailed Plan for the site.Mr. Dahl stated they do intend to get an Act 2 sign off to show that the property has been properly remediated.

 

Ms. Janet Wassum, Sandy Run II, asked who owns the Scammellís property at this time.

Mr. Dahl stated the Quaker Group is the current property owner, and Hovnanian is the

contract purchaser.Mr. Duffy stated the Court Order preventing any property disturbance

is still in place.It was noted Hovnanian does not yet own the property.Ms. Frick stated

the current owner is Quaker Group, and she understands Hovnanian has purchased certain

properties from Quaker.Mr. Dahl stated they have a Contract to purchase the property

from Quaker contingent on them obtaining approval.

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Mr. Roeper stated at the Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board set the date for the

Public Hearing for the review of the Master Plan for September 15.However, when he

received the Summary of the meeting, it indicated it was September 30.Ms. Frick stated

this was a mistake and the correct date is September 15.

 

Mr. Roeper stated the Board looked at the Chanticleer development and decided they

preferred the two part development without the road crossing the stream.They did discuss

the possibility that because the developer would not have to cross the stream, funds saved

could be contributed to the Township.He stated they also asked the developer to look at

how public sewer and water could be extended to the adjacent existing homes in the area

which are experiencing problems.

 

Mr. Roeper stated Chief Coluzzi came back with a response as to how Oxford Oaks could

be laid out differently.Ms. Frick stated this will be included in the Planning Commissionís

next packet including a sketch prepared by Mr. Majewski.Twenty-four parking spaces

would be lost which would put them below the parking requirement.

 

There being no further business, Mr. Pazdera moved, Ms. Gould seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 8:30 p.m.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Albert Roeper, Chairman