TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES - NOVEMBER 12, 2003

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on November 12, 2003.  Vice Chairman Pazdera called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. 

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:   John Pazdera, Vice Chairman

                                                Karen Friedman, Member

                                                Andrew Strauss, Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                John Koopman, Township Solicitor

                                                James Majewski, Township Engineer

                                                Drew Wagner, Township Engineer

                                                Pete Stainthorpe, Supervisor Liaison

 

APPEAL #03-1229 - SPECIAL EXCEPTION RECOMMENDATION - JOHN V. AND DEBORAH V. PICONE

 

Mr. Henry VanBlunk, attorney, was present on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Picone who were

unable to attend this evening.  Mr. VanBlunk stated Mr. and Mrs. Picone spend six months

a year in Florida and six months in Lower Makefield.  He stated they are looking to put a

home office in the home they are building on Sandy Run Road.  Mr. Picone is a financial

planner.  Mrs. Picone also works for the business.  Their son, who is in college,

occasionally works for the business in the summer.  The business would only be in

operation at this location during the six months that they are in Lower Makefield, although

there would be a receptionist at this location all year to answer phones and forward mail.

No clients would be coming to the property during the six months when they are in

Florida.  During the six months when they are in Lower Makefield, they would average

two clients a day; but these would not be scheduled back to back.  Many times Mr. Picone

visits his clients at their homes or offices.  The use would therefore be limited.  Mr. Picone

generally operates Monday through Friday and rarely on a Saturday.  They are currently

operating out of the Lower Makefield Executive Quarters where they have had a business

for approximately ten years. 

 

Ms. Frick asked if they anticipate adding to the business, and Mr. VanBlunk stated they do

not.

 

Mr. Koopman asked what part of the house will be used for the business, and

Mr. VanBlunk noted on the diagram the proposed walk which would lead to the business

which is behind the garage.  The office would include a reception area and Mr. Picone’s

office.  There are also restroom facilities.  Mr. Koopman asked the square footage of the

facility to be used for the office, and Mr. VanBlunk stated he did not know this figure.

Mr. Koopman stated they will need to know this when they go to the Zoning Hearing

Board.  Ms. Frick stated according to the drawings it appears 22’ x 41’6” is the amount to

be used for the office.  Mr. Majewski stated this is 913 square feet which would be 28% of

the floor space.  Mr. VanBlunk stated they recognize that they can have no more than 25%

of the total floor space devoted to the office use.  Mr. Koopman stated they are also

requesting some Variances.

November 12, 2003                                                         Planning Commission - page 2 of 8

 

Mr. Pazdera stated he is concerned with the fact that they will not be buffering the parking

area. He stated if the adjoining property were to be developed, the parking would be

extremely close to the home.  Ms. Friedman stated three parking spaces are shown for the

business.  Mr. VanBlunk stated this is required by the Zoning Ordinance.  He stated the

Picones would prefer not to have this many spaces.  It was noted one space would be

needed for the receptionist, and they would then have two spaces for clients. 

Mr. VanBlunk stated it is possible that a husband and wife could come to the property in

two separate cars. 

 

Ms. Friedman moved, Mr. Strauss seconded and it was unanimously carried to recommend

to the Zoning Hearing Board approval of the Special Exception with the recommendation

that they look at alternate means of buffering the parking from the neighboring lot.

 

 

#541 - CHANTICLEER PRELIMINARY PLAN DISCUSSION

 

Mr. Edward Murphy, attorney, Ms. Susan Menno, Project Manager, and Mr. Mike

Stadulis were present.  Mr. Murphy stated this is a 43 acre parcel at Mt. Eyre Road and

Delaware Rim Drive.  Seventeen new homes are proposed along with the retention of an

existing house.  Lot sizes range from slightly less than one acre to eight acres.  There were

previous discussions regarding an interconnection between Mt. Eyre and Delaware Rim,

whether the Township would support naturalized basins,  and the reduction of front yards

from 70’ to 50’ in order to preserve natural resources.  The Board of Supervisors adopted

the recommendations of the Planning Commission regarding these three items, and the

Plans have been revised to reflect these decisions.  The revised Plans are being presented

this evening with the review letter from PCS dated 10/22/03.  Mr. Murphy stated they hope

to secure formal action from the Planning Commission at the next meeting. 

 

Ms. Menno noted the changes made to the Plan as a result of the recommendations made by

the Planning Commission when they last saw this project.  She noted the basins will be

located on private lots and easements will be placed on the lots so that the Township can

access the basins in case of emergency.  The Homeowners Association will be responsible

for the maintenance of the basins.  Each individual lot will have a stormwater management

system on its own lot.  Mr. Murphy stated the Township will not own or maintain the

stormwater system.  If the Homeowners Association does not maintain the basins, the

Township will reserve the right to enter upon the property to do maintenance and assess the

homeowners for the cost of this work.  Mr. Koopman asked who will own the land where

the basin is located, and Mr. Murphy stated the individual homeowners would own it with

an easement granted to the Homeowners Association with language included that the

Township has the right to come in and inspect and maintain it if necessary.  Mr. Murphy

stated the Township Solicitor will review and approve this language.  Mr. Koopman stated

while this is not normally done in Lower Makefield Township, it is not unusual for this to

be done in other Townships.  Mr. Murphy stated this is a result of the new stormwater

management regulations now in effect.  Mr. Majewski stated the Township does have the

right to inspect the facility during and after major storm events to make sure they are

functioning properly.  The Homeowners Association also has a qualified person inspect the

basins on an annual basis and provides a report to the Township.  Mr. Murphy stated these

basins are intended to be naturalized and do not require the maintenance needed by the type

of basins that the Township has seen in the past.  Mr. Strauss asked if the costs for such

maintenance is of such an amount that it could be handled by a Homeowners Association

for this size development.  Mr. Murphy stated it is.  Mr. Majewski stated provided it is

constructed properly, these basins do not require much maintenance. 

November 12, 2003                                                         Planning Commission - page 3 of 8

 

 

Ms. Menno noted Item #2 of the PCS letter which relates to Variances being requested. 

She noted the location of the Gas Pipe Line which they are required to cross at a 90 degree

angle.  She noted Comment #21 regarding the roadway width.  She stated existing

Delaware Rim Drive is 26’ wide, and they are requesting that the new road width either go

to 30’ or match the existing width of Delaware Rim if the Planning Commission would be

in favor of this.  She stated this would help reduce the encroachment into the buffers noted

in Comment #2.  Mr. Murphy stated the elimination of the interconnection has helped

minimize the encroachment.  Mr. Pazdera stated he would support a reduction in the road

width to 30’.  Mr. Majewski stated 26’ might work if they prohibited parking on one side

of the street. Mr. Stainthorpe stated at Hillside and Spring Lane they recently did work and

responded to what they felt was the request of the majority of those homeowners that they

reduce the road width to 20’.  Now the residents are indicating that they do not like this

width.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated the Township is looking into sewering Delaware Rim and it

may be appropriate to go to 30’ in width, but they would need input from the neighbors

and have further discussion on this.  He would not, however, recommend going lower

than 30’ for this development. 

 

Ms. Menno noted a number of waivers they are requesting as outlined in the PCS letter.

All waivers requested were acceptable to the Township engineer.

 

Ms. Menno noted their request for a front yard reduction and showed which lots would be

impacted.  She stated this is in response to their desire to minimize disturbance and as a

response to comments from the existing residents.  They would also be able to move lots

away from the Gas Pipe Line.  Mr. Murphy stated when this was discussed previously, the

Planning Commission indicated that they would address this on a lot by lot basis. He stated

they understand that they would have to make an application to the Zoning Hearing Board,

but they would like the Township engineer to review each of these and agree to the

adjustment that they have suggested.  Mr. Koopman asked if they would then protect more

of the natural resource areas; and Mr. Murphy stated they would, and he feels they would

establish Conservation Easements to insure that they are protected. 

 

Mr. Pazdera asked if they have looked at any other alternative ways of accessing Lots 15

and 16 by reconfiguring Lots 14 and 15.  Ms. Menno stated they have considered a number

of ways to access these, but they have a problem behind Lots 15 and 16 where there are steep slopes. 

 

There was no public comment.

 

 

#545 -   RANNNIELLO PROPERTIES - RECOMMENDATION OF PRELIMINARY/FINAL PLAN

 

Mr. Murphy, attorney, Mr. Mark Ranniello, and Mr. Mike Ranniello were present.  

Mr. Murphy stated this Application proposes the elimination of one lot.   They are

proposing to take the lot in the middle and add it to the two lots on either side.  Each lot

would then be 22,500 square feet in size.  They did go to the Zoning Hearing Board to

obtain relief.  This is considered as a lot line change.

 

The PCS letter dated 10/24/03 was noted where they comment on the relief granted by the

Zoning Hearing Board and the request that additional notes reflecting the Grant of the

Variance be added to the Plans.  The Plans also reflect the comments made by the

November 12, 2003                                                         Planning Commission - page 4 of 8

 

 

Township engineer with respect to stormwater management.  Stormwater improvements

have been shown to Linden Road and along the property line at the present terminus of the

road.  There is also additional on-site storm water management designed to further manage

and direct water to the wetlands area at the rear of the site.  They will comply with all items

in the PCS letter.

 

Mr. Pazdera noted one Waiver is being requested and this was acceptable to Mr. Majewski.

 

Ms. Friedman asked what would happened in Linden Avenue would need to be widened,

and Mr. Murphy stated they have provided an additional right-of-way which is exclusive

of any per-lot calculations.

 

There was no public comment.

 

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

recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of the Preliminary/Final Plan Lot Line

Change for Tax Parcel #20-50-114, #20-50-115, and #20-50-116, Plans dated 9/22/03

subject to compliance with the PCS letter dated 10/24/03.

 

 

#547 - LOWER MAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP - PATTERSON FARM MINOR SUBDIVISION DISCUSSION AND MOTION TO TABLE

 

Ms. Frick stated this is a Minor Subdivision for the Patterson Farm as per the Plan

presented.

 

Mr. Stainthorpe stated the existing White House, fronting on Mirror Lake Road, is in very bad condition, and the Township is looking at subdividing this house from the rest of the Farm so that it can be sold to someone who would like to preserve it, own a historic property, and restore it.  He noted it would take $100,000 to $200,000 for the Township to restore the house.  He stated possibly it could be used as a Bed and Breakfast. 

 

Mr. Koopman stated they are proposing to subdivide approximately 2.2 acres from the

Patterson Farm. 

 

Mr. Bob Williams, 1498 Quail Drive, asked if there would be a usage restriction, and

Mr. Stainthorpe stated there would be one placed.  He stated they could not tear it down

and build something new. 

 

Mr. Gary Cruzan stated he has asked previously for the Deed Restrictions on the Farm. 

He stated it is his understanding that when the Township purchased the land, the entire tract

was deed restricted; and he does not feel that they should discuss subdividing it until they

know what the deed restrictions are.  He stated Don Marshall, who represented the

Pattersons, indicated to him that it was not to be subdivided. 

 

Mr. John Torbert stated this farm was purchased by the Township from Mr. Patterson who

sold it to the Township in the spirit that the farm would remain a farm.  He stated the

property is also in the Agricultural Security District which does not permit subdividing. 

Mr. Koopman stated he does not feel that this statement is accurate that just because it in the

Agricultural Security District that it cannot be subdivided.  Mr. Koopman stated he

recognizes that the 2.2 acres is not going to be a farm, and possibly this portion may have

November 12, 2003                                                         Planning Commission - page 5 of 8

 

 

to be removed from the Agricultural Security District.  They would have to look at the law

in this regard.  Mr. Torbert stated Open Space Funds were used to purchase this farm.  He

asked if these funds are going to be replaced if this property is sold. 

 

Mr. Cruzan stated he does not feel they should discuss this Application until everyone

knows what the deed restrictions are.  Mr. Koopman stated the deed restrictions are a

matter of public record.  Mr. Strauss asked that they obtain copies of the restrictions,

easements, and descriptions and have the Planning Commission and staff look at these. 

 

Mr. Torbert stated Mrs. Patterson is still alive and he understood she had lifetime rights to

the Farm.  He stated he feels the Township is sending a message to the people who own

property in the Township that if the Township purchases property, they will chop it up. 

He stated they have a worse problem with the property at Elm Lowne where the barns are

in even worse shape than this property. 

 

Ms. Deborah Gould stated she feels they have to look at the deed restrictions and look at

how the Agricultural Security District was set up.  She stated there are two other historic

buildings on this land, and she is concerned that they will continue to piecemeal the rest of

the tract as well. 

 

Mr. Torbert stated there have been renters in the house for twenty years who pay rent to

Mrs. Patterson.     Mr. Stainthorpe stated his understanding is those individuals are getting

ready to leave the property.

 

 

Ms. Catherine Jennings stated a developer offered the Pattersons $28 million in order to

construct homes and a shopping center, and the Pattersons turned this down.  She stated

the citizens voted that this be purchased with Open Space Funds.  She feels all Township

residents should have been advised of this proposal.

 

Ms. Virginia Torbert asked where they obtained the estimate of what it would cost to repair

the house, and Mr. Stainthorpe stated they did have an architect come out and give them

this estimate.  Ms. Torbert read from portions of the Edgewood Village Design Guidelines

which comment on the Patterson Farm.  She stated this tract is part of our heritage.  She

stated there is a sign on the property which indicates that the Township purchased the

Patterson Farm. She stated the Township will be subdividing off the various tracts of the

Farm and they will be left with a leaf dump.  She stated the Patterson Farm should come

under the jurisdiction of the Farmland Preservation Corporation according to the plain

language.  She stated they should have a say in the management of the Farm.

 

Ms. Helen Heinz stated she is a member of the Historic Commission and this matter came

up because the Board of Supervisors was going to bulldoze the house, and the Historic

Commission asked that they try to do something with a lease, etc.  She stated the $200,000

figure came from the Township engineer and not from an architect.  She stated there are

some structural problems with the building but it is a wonderful property. She stated she

does not feel the Township wants to maintain the structure, and they are letting it

deteriorate. She stated this is similar to what the Township has done with other structures

such as the Tomlinson Store and the house at the Five Mile Woods. 

 

Ms. Jean Cune stated she just received the letter about this matter today and does not feel

this was sufficient notice.  Mr. Pazdera stated they do not set the Agenda until Thursday or

November 12, 2003                                                         Planning Commission - page 6 of 8

 

 

Friday and this is the quickest they can notify the surrounding residents.  Ms. Cune stated

since the Township voted to buy this property, she feels they need to vote again on whether

it should be subdivided.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated the reason they have public meetings is to

gauge public sentiment.  He stated the Township is interested in hearing what the public

has to say.  He stated the Patterson Farm was not bought with Open Space money from the

Referendum.  He stated if there is a strong sentiment on the part of the public that the way

to allocate money is for historic preservation, he feels that is what the Board should do.

However, if the majority of the people feel otherwise, they may have to make other

decisions. 

 

Mr. Torbert stated he feels the Township could start by maintaining the structures they

own.

 

Mr. Bob Williams stated he feels there was a minimal amount of disclosure regarding this

matter.  He stated only the contiguous neighbors were advised.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated they

hold regular public meetings.  He stated at the average Planning Commission meeting there

are usually very few people from the public present.  He stated during the Master Plan

proceedings only two residents chose to attend. He stated even if the Planning Commission

approves this matter this evening, it will still go before the Board of Supervisors at a public

meeting.  He stated they are looking at making good financial decisions for the Township.

 

Mrs. Gould stated she does not feel it is sufficient to simply put it on the Agenda.  She

stated they should advertise this through the newspapers, Township Website, and the

Township Newsletter. 

 

Ms. Catherine Jennings asked what other structures are on the property that they may want

to subdivide.  It was noted there are six structures on the property.  Ms. Jennings stated the

crops are not being rotated on the property anymore, and this will have a negative impact

on the property.  She stated it appears that when they purchased this property, the

Township did not have a plan to maintain the structures. 

 

Mr. Williams stated it seems that once the Township takes a vote as a whole to acquire a

property that is potentially as diverse as this property, the Township has bought itself into a

legacy that has been sub-par disclosed.

 

Ms. Gould stated the Township sold the Tomlinson Store and marketed it very quietly.

Mr. Stainthorpe stated there were public bids on that property and what was done was done

according to the law.  He stated that building was a problem to maintain and a problem to

rent.  They sold it to a private individual who is maintaining it and it is back on the tax

rolls.

 

Mr. Torbert asked if the Board of Supervisors looked at the overall farm and buildings and

recognized that they would have to maintain it.

 

Ms. Cune asked that they be provided more notice in the future or at least publish this in the

newspaper.  Ms. Frick stated it was in the newspaper, on the Township Website, and on

Channel 16.  Ms. Torbert stated it was in the classifieds.  She stated the Courier Times has

a regular section on public meetings, and the Supervisors’ Agenda is not regularly

published in that Section although many surrounding Townships’ Agendas are published in

this section.  She stated she has complained about this in the past.  She stated she feels

someone at the Township should be responsible for this and make sure that the Agenda

November 12, 2003                                                         Planning Commission - page 7 of 8

 

 

gets put into the paper.  She stated the Agendas do not get onto the Website until the day of

the meeting.  Ms. Frick stated she checked on Friday, and the Planning Commission

Agenda was on the Township Website.

 

Ms. Friedman moved, Mr. Strauss seconded and it was unanimously carried to table

discussion of the Patterson Farm Minor Subdivision until more information is gathered so

that they can be presented with facts and continue to discuss this at another time.

 

 

#205-E - OXFORD OAKS SHOPPING CENTER - RECOMMENDATION  ON RECONFIGURATION OF PARKING LOT AREA

 

Mr. Majewski stated the Plan shown incorporates everything that was previously

discussed.  There will be a net loss of twenty-four parking spaces.  Mr. Pazdera stated the

only time he feels this will be a problem is during the Holiday season.

 

Mr. Stainthorpe asked how they plan to approach the shopping center owner.  He stated he

feels the Township may have to pick up the cost.  Ms. Frick stated she feels they need to

come up with an estimated cost.  She added that  Mr. Murphy had previously indicated that

he would approach the owner with the proposal.  Mr. Majewski stated he did take the

liberty of providing Mr. Murphy with a copy of the Plan, and he agreed to present it to the

owner.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated he feels someone from the Township should contact the

shopping center owner advising them that they feel this is something important to be

considered for the safety of the Township residents.  Mr. Strauss stated this is a public

health and safety issue, and the Township should go on record that the design is intended

to increase safety of the shopping center and express it to the owner in those terms. 

Mr. Pazdera stated he feels they should recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they

proceed with approaching the owner.  Mr. Koopman stated he feels the Board of

Supervisors should send a letter to the owners and authorize PCS to come up with a cost

estimate.

 

Mr. Strauss moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the Planning

Commission supports and transmits the drawings and memo of Mr. Majewski dated

10/30/03.  The intent is to improve the public health, safety, and welfare and overall

shopping center design.

 

Ms. Friedman stated when she was looking into this matter, someone approached her and

stated that when you come off Big Oak Road to go into the entrance to make a left or right

into the shopping center at Kohl’s there is an island that sticks out and is a tight left.  She

stated there is a line of parking spots where cars are located, and there is not enough room

to maneuver.   Mr. Majewski stated this is another reason why the re-configuration will

work better.

 

Ms. Friedman seconded the Motion, and the Motion carried unanimously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 12, 2003                                                         Planning Commission - page 8 of 8

 

 

There being no further business, Ms. Friedman moved, Mr. Strauss seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 9:15 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                        John Pazdera, Vice Chairman