TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES - MAY 12, 2003

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on May 12, 2003.  Chairman Roeper called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:   Albert Roeper, Chairman

                                                John Pazdera, Vice Chairman

                                                Michael Shavel, Secretary (joined meeting in progress)

                                                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 Friedman, Bucks County Planning Commission

                                               

Absent:                         Deborah Gould, Planning Commission Member

 

 

Mr. Roeper stated the only item on the Agenda this evening is the Public Hearing for the

Master Plan Update Draft.  He stated they had hoped there would be a sizable group of

people present this evening so they had arranged that speakers would sign in and be limited

to five minutes each; but as only four people were present in the audience, he stated this

would not be necessary.

 

Mr. Roeper stated Lower Makefield was one of the first Townships in Bucks County to

prepare a Master Plan, and this Plan has been updated over the years.  An amendment to

the MPC requires that specific items be included in the Master Plan and requires such Plans

to be updated every ten years.

 

Mr. Shavel joined the meeting at this time.

 

Mr. Roeper stated the Board of Supervisors approved updating the Master Plan and hiring

the Bucks County Planning Commission to help with this preparation.  Last year all

Department Heads and Chairs of the various Township Boards and Commissions were

provided questionnaires, and in August questionnaires were sent to every fourth household

in the Township.  This information was used to prepare an initial draft.  Two subsequent

drafts were then prepared and the result is the draft they will review this evening. 

Revisions may need to be made as a result of comments this evening and comments from

the Various Department Heads and Board and Commission Chairs.  The Board of

Supervisors will hold a Public Hearing prior to the adoption of the Plan.  The Board could

opt to return the Plan to the Planning Commission following the Board’s Public Hearing

for revisions and further comments. Mr. Roeper thanked all who helped in this endeavor

particularly Lynn Bush and Gail Friedman of the Bucks County Planning Commission. 

He noted the Draft to be considered this evening was made available to the public.

 

 

May 12, 2003                                                              Planning Commission - page 2 of 5

 

 

Mr. Gary Cruzan, 1597 Clark Drive, stated there is a strong hint of an income tax included

in the Draft, and he feels it is clear on Page 99 that the Golf Course is driving up the date

for this.  He stated they spent down the General Fund revenues to get the Golf Course

going, and he feels this comment should be included.  Mr. Roeper stated he felt all the

costs of the Golf Course were to be charged against the Bond.  Mr. Cruzan stated it is

Township debt;  and if the revenues of the Golf Course do not permit it to pay for itself,

it will then be the obligation of the taxpayers.  Mr. Roeper stated the Board of Supervisors

would have a fiscal problem in about five years if the Golf Course is not profitable. 

Mr. Cruzan stated he has talked to people all over the Township, and they are concerned

about this.   Mr. Roeper stated it appears Mr. Cruzan is suggesting that there be a comment

that if the Golf Course is not self-sustaining, it could impact on the General Budget in

future years.   Mr. Cruzan agreed that he feels this comment should be included in the

document.

 

Mr. Roeper noted Page 99, Table 21, which has not been completely revised to show the

latest re-financing the Township did; and he stated this will be revised.

 

Ms. Virginia Torbert, 1700 Yardley-Newtown Road, stated in the discussion about the

Patterson Farm there is a reference to the Patterson Farm remaining in farming; and while

she hopes this is true, she does not feel the Board of Supervisors made any such pledge. 

She stated the pledge that was made is that the farm will remain in open space.  Ms. Bush

stated at the top of Page 15 they have indicated the Township acquired the Patterson Farm

which will remain in agriculture.  Ms. Torbert stated while she would like this to be so, she

does not feel the Board of Supervisors agreed to this.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated the only

recent discussion the Board of Supervisors has had about the Patterson Farm were with

regard to a newsletter which falsely stated that the Township was going to sell 67% of the

property.  He stated he feels part of the land is deed restricted, but he is not certain. 

Ms. Bush stated the entire allotment that Lower Makefield Township has for open space

preservation from the County went to acquiring the Patterson Farm, and that portion that

was purchased with County money must be preserved under the terms of the Agreement

with the County.  Ms. Torbert stated she feels that the Board of Supervisors have indicated

that if there comes a time that they cannot find a farmer willing to farm the property, the

intention was to leave it in open space.  She stated the Board of Supervisors has made it

clear that they would like to sell off at least one of the homes on the property and some of

the farm buildings, and there has not been much public notice about this.  She feels there

should be some public discussion on this since she feel this proposal violates the spirit of

what was done with regard to the property.  Mr. Roeper noted Page 74, Item #5 which

indicates the property serves multiple purposes.  Ms. Torbert stated she does not feel

selling off several homes on the farm and all the farm buildings comports with this since it

will not then be a farm.  She stated if the Patterson Farm is only being saved for a solid

waste area or for a future park, she does not feel they should make the pretense that they

are preserving a farm.  Mr. Roeper stated he feels Item #5 indicates what they see for

Patterson Farm for the foreseeable future.  He stated if the Board of Supervisors decides at

some point in the future to sell a portion of the farm over which they have jurisdiction, this

would be a matter for discussion with the Board of Supervisors at that time.   The Planning

Commission’s thinking at this time is that the Patterson Farm, will be a farm for the

foreseeable future.  He added that the use of the property for leaf composting is left in

doubt as there may be too much material to be composted. 

 

 

 

May 12, 2003                                                                  Planning Commission - page 3 of 5

 

 

Mr. Stephen Heinz stated he is present representing HARB and would like to speak about

Edgewood Village.  He noted the Plan previously presented by March Associates and

stated he fails to see any reference to that Plan.  Mr. Roeper stated there is a reference to the

latest study which was done by Carter VanDyke.  Mr. Heinz stated he still feels any long-

term plan such as the Master Plan should seriously consider the ideas presented by March

Associates.  He stated there is less and less public money for preservation and maintenance

of historic buildings, and he feels they will have to look for ways to finance any of the

infrastructure of Village roadways, etc. so it can become a viable Historic/Commercial

walking District which could possibly extend into the Patterson Farm.  He stated if there is

a thought to selling a portion of the Patterson Farm, he would hope funds would be

obtained to help with the preservation of Edgewood Village.  Mr. Heinz stated he had

hoped to be included in the discussions on the Edgewood Village Plan.  Mr. Roeper stated

the Planning Commission did listen to a presentation on the Edgewood Village Plan with

Mr. VanDyke, Ms. Langtry of the Historic Commission,  and others in attendance. 

Ms. Bush stated they did refer to the March Study on Page 78 as well as the new study that

the Township has authorized to be done which moves the plan forward.  Mr. Heinz stated

he did notice this, but hoped for a little stronger language indicating they were going to

move forward.  Mr. Roeper noted Page 112 which lists plans for Edgewood Village. 

Mr. Stainthorpe stated it is also referenced on Page 80.  Mr. Heinz stated he did see this but

felt it was tentative and feels it should be more clearly or more strongly stated.  Mr. Roeper

noted Page 78 which indicates the next Phase and summarizes what they plan to do next. 

He stated the implementation of this recommendation is up to the Board of Supervisors

with recommendations from HARB and the Historic Commission. Mr. Roeper stated it is

not the purpose of the Master Plan to get into the implementation phase as this is up to the

Board of Supervisors.  Ms. Bush stated the Carter VanDyke study has just been started so

it would be difficult to be more specific since they do not yet know exactly what his

proposal will be.  When Mr. VanDyke’s recommendations are put forth and accepted by

the Township, they could become an Addendum to the Master Plan.

 

Mr. Cruzan asked about the deed restrictions on the Patterson Farm.  He stated he felt the

entire Farm was deed restricted.  He stated there is a rumor circulating that only 30% is

deed restricted, and he would like to know exactly what the restrictions are and to have a

copy of the deed.  Mr. Roeper stated he feels the Sales Agreement and any documents filed

in connection with the County and State would be public information.  Mr. Koopman

stated it should be a matter of public record, and he could direct Mr. Cruzan as to whom he

could contact to obtain this information.  He stated he does not feel anyone present this

evening has the exact information he is looking for.    Mr. Roeper stated Farmland

Preservation Corporation land has a set of restrictions which are completely different from

open space.  He stated Elm Lowne also has a different set of restrictions and they did not

want to get involved in any of these details in the Master Plan.

 

Ms. Torbert stated when the Township surveyed the residents, the issue that seemed the

most important to the residents was the traffic issue, yet in the Master Plan the measures

that the Plan indicates to address traffic issues seem “boilerplate“ and do not seem to be the

kind of measures that will accomplish much.    Mr. Roeper noted Page 113, Item #4.  He

stated there are a number of people who feel this is very important with regard to traffic

calming measures.  He stated there are complaints about speeding in almost every

neighborhood and it would not be possible to weave the specifics into the Plan.  He stated

the Board of Supervisors would need to engage a traffic consultant to do a study of the

Township and make recommendations.  Mr. Koopman stated this recommendation is

included in Item #1.  Mr. Koopman stated details would come out of the study as

May 12, 2003                                                                  Planning Commission - page 4 of 5

 

 

suggested in the Master Plan.  Ms. Torbert stated there are certain intersections which

might come into focus in terms of needing attention and if they had a Traffic Advisory

Committee, they could then consider these.  She feels the Township should be more pro-

active in this regard.  She stated there could be a survey of residents on the roads which

need the most attention.   She stated she also feels there should be a comprehensive

analysis of the speed limits in the Township.  She stated there are roads in the Township

which are posted 25 miles per hour which should not be this low.  She stated there are

Committees for everything else in the Township, yet they do not have a Traffic Advisory

Committee which she feels is the most pressing issue.  Mr. Roeper stated some years ago

there was such a Committee and this could be re-activated by the Board of Supervisors. 

Mr. Koopman stated if Item #1 is implemented, this would involve implementing a Traffic

Advisory Committee.  Mr. Koopman stated there are State requirements as to who can

serve on such a Committee, and it would include residents.

 

Mr. Heinz stated on behalf of the Boy Scouts, he would like to request a trail that goes

around the Township.  He noted Page 65 and the reference to a trail system and asked if

anything has been proposed.  Ms. Frick suggested that he contact Donna Liney, the

Director of Parks & Recreation on this matter.

 

Mr. Cruzan noted Page 56 regarding the long-term financial plan which discusses a

Committee which met in the 1990’s and asked if there is still such a Committee. 

Mr. Stainthorpe stated to his knowledge this Committee is no longer active.  Mr. Cruzan

stated he feels they should be active, and he would like to participate in such a Committee. 

Mr. Roeper stated Mr. Fazzalore started this Committee some years ago and was involved

in it for some time.  Mr. Roeper stated he is not sure of the status of that Committee at this

time.  Ms. Bush stated there was a report issued in 1998 and the concern that grew out of

the 1992 Master Plan was what would happen when development in the Township slows

down.   She noted the 1998 report was a very complicated one.  She did have discussions

with Mr. Taylor about this matter, and he indicated that the report from 1998 was pretty

much on target.  Mr. Cruzan stated that report indicated that there could be major financial

problems in the future,  and he feels there should be an update.    Mr. Roeper stated he

feels this is a good suggestion and that they can recommend that they update this report.

 

Ms. Dana Weyrick, 1512 Brock Creek Drive, asked where they have included information

in the Master Plan on the Matrix site.  Mr. Roeper stated he did not feel there was any

mention of the Matrix site or any other specific development or litigation that the Township

is engaged in.  Mr. Pazdera stated on Page 30 there is a small mention of this. 

 

Ms. Weyrick stated the Planning Commission previously discussed re-zoning for Age-

Restricted Housing, and asked if this has been included.  Mr. Roeper stated there is

nothing specific but he did intend to discuss this matter at the next Planning Commission

meeting since it would require action by the Planning Commission and Board of

Supervisors.  He did not feel they should guess in the Master Plan what might occur with

regard to this issue.    Mr. Koopman stated there is a reference that Age-Restricted Housing

should be looked at and addressed in the future.  Mr. Majewski noted this is included on

Page 34 and Page 37.  Mr. Koopman stated the Master Plan is really only an overview of

the direction the Township is going.  Ms. Weyrick asked if this is a legal document, and Mr. Koopman stated there is some question as to how much legal standing Master Plans

have.  

 

 

May 12, 2003                                                                  Planning Commission - page 5 of 5

 

 

Mr. Roeper stated this document could accomplish more cooperation with adjacent

Townships with respect to development of adjoining properties, and while they could have

made a comment about the situation with Newtown, they did not feel it would serve any

purpose. 

 

Mr. Strauss noted with regard to the Patterson Farm, he feels they could add some text as

to how it was acquired and the restrictions that apply to the tract.  He stated that although it

is called the Patterson Farm, it is depicted as Township-owned property and the color used

for this property is different from preserved farmland.  He stated if a portion is restricted to

farmland use, the map should be amended.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated the land shown in bright

green is owned by the Farmland Preservation Corporation and is owned and preserved

differently from land owned by the Township.  The color refers to ownership as opposed

to use.  Mr. Koopman stated he feels the restriction on the Patterson Farm is that it be in

open space, and he does not feel the requirement is that it be farmed.  He stated he also

feels the County requirement is that it be open space or farmland and not that it must be

farmland.  He stated the Board of Supervisors has expressed an intention that it be in open

space as long as viable; however, they could clarify this.  He stated they could add

additional text specific to the Patterson Farm.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated the Farmland

Preservation Corporation land was all donated by developers who developed their land

differently and then donated this land to the Farmland Preservation Corporation.  This is

different from the Patterson Farm which was purchased by the Township. 

 

Mr. Roeper noted some of the parcels in the Five Mile Woods are actually located in Falls

Township but are owned by Lower Makefield.

 

Ms. Weyrick stated Mr. Roeper had previously indicated that he felt they should include the

fact that within ten years he feels the Township will be financing the Golf Course. 

Mr. Roeper stated they will recommend broadening the comments on the Golf Course that

if the Golf Course is not profitable, it will be the responsibility of the taxpayers. 

 

Ms. Weyrick asked when they will discuss Age-Restricted Housing, and Mr. Roeper stated

they will discuss it on Wednesday, May 28 since their regular meeting night falls on

Memorial Day.  He stated they will most likely also discuss the Master Plan that evening

and then pass it onto the Board of Supervisors.  They will discuss whether or not they

should make further recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. 

 

Ms. Torbert noted the Agenda for this evening’s meeting was not in the Courier Times and

if they want more people to attend meetings, they should make sure it is listed.  Ms. Frick

stated the Agenda was faxed to them and it was put on the Township Cable channel. 

Mr. Koopman stated it was also included in the legal section. 

 

Ms. Bush thanked Mr. Majewski for his help with the Master Plan.

 

There being no further business, Mr. Pazdera moved, Mr. Shavel seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 8:35 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

                                                                        Mr. Shavel, Secretary