TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

FEBRUARY 23, 2004

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on February 23, 2004.  Secretary Friedman called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Planning commission:                Karen Friedman, Secretary

                                                Fred Allan, Member

                                                Cynthia Harrison, Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                John Koopman, Township Solicitor

                                                James Majewski, Township Engineer

                                                Steve Santarsiero, Supervisor

 

Absent:                         John Pazdera, Planning Commission Chairman

                                                Andrew Strauss, Planning Commission Vice Chairman

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

Mr. Allan moved, Ms. Harrison seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of February 9, 2004 as written.

 

 

#542 – FIRST NATIONAL BANK & TRUST CO. OF NEWTOWN- SKETCH PLAN DISCUSSION

 

Mr. Edward Murphy, attorney, Mr. Fred Ehrenfeld, President of the Masonic Lodge, and

Mr. John Parry, President of First National Bank & Trust Co. were present. Mr. Murphy

stated they would like to discuss the future use of the Masonic Hall property on

Edgewood Road.  There was discussion on this tract slightly over a year ago and a Sketch

Plan was presented at that time.  The property is four acres; however, because it is a

corner property and the right-of-way of Heacock and Edgewood Roads is unusually

large, the net acreage after deducting the right-of-way is less than three acres.

 

Mr. Murphy presented a board showing the site and the surrounding zoning.  The site

itself is zoned R-02 although the property has been non-conforming since the building

was built in 1965.  The surrounding properties are C-1, H/C and residential zones. 

Mr. Murphy noted two parcels which are zoned R-2 but one of them has a medical office

building and the other is the fire house property. 

 

February 23, 2004                                                         Planning Commission – page 2 of 8

 

 

Mr. Murphy showed another board highlighting the H-C zone as it relates to the Masonic

Hall.  He noted the Masonic Hall is included in the Township’s Historic District.  The

nearby Woodside Presbyterian Church is not zoned H/C and no one has been able to

advise what the rationale was for the difference is zoning for the two tracts. 

 

Mr. Murphy presented a board showing surrounding land use where they have identified

the different properties in the H/C District and the surrounding properties that abut the

Masonic Lodge.

 

Mr. Murphy stated he would like the Planning Commission to consider if the current

zoning makes sense.  He stated currently it is zoned R-2; and while it does abut other

residential properties to the east, it is also adjacent to an office project and across the

street from commercial. He stated he would like the Planning Commission to consider if

the site is appropriately zoned and consider the merits of what the Masons would like to

use the parcel for in the future. 

 

Mr. Murphy noted the Plan which was submitted one year ago which provided for a

branch bank on the southern portion of the site and suggested that the site be designated

C-1.  Mr. Murphy stated C-1 was not designed to handle small tracts, but was designed

for larger tracts as opposed to the H/C which was designed to address the smaller parcels

and has smaller requirements for yard setbacks.  In the H/C they wanted to develop

parcels that would give a historic feel.

 

Mr. Murphy stated the new Plan they are now proposing re-orients the site to a point near

the intersection of Heacock and Edgewood Road to be consistent with the historically-

designated properties in Edgewood Village all of which sit close to the road.  He stated

there is no proposal to modify any of the ingress/egress points from what they are

currently.  They have met with the owners of the Medical Office Building to the south

and reached an agreement to use their driveway and would not therefore have to create a

new curb cut.  Mr. Murphy stated the parking at that location is taxed at the current time

and those property owners would be interested in reaching an agreement with the Masons

for overflow parking during the day.  The Masons would be willing to reciprocate by

using their parking in the evening during the several times during the year when they

have problems with parking on the Masonic site.  The other change they are proposing is

driveway through lanes have been revised so that any lights shining out would be blocked

by the existing building.  They feel this arrangement will allow them to offer the Masonic

Hall as a community center to the Township until such time as the Township finds a

permanent home for a Community Center.  Mr. Murphy stated the Masons would like to

stay at this location, but want to find a suitable partner so that they can continue to do so. 

They are approached daily by developers wanting to purchase their site. 

 

 

 

February 23, 2004                                                         Planning Commission – page 3 of 8

 

 

Mr. Murphy stated Heacock and Edgewood is one of the most heavily-traveled

intersections in the Township and one of the gateways to Edgewood Village.  They feel

this proposal presents an opportunity to develop a bank that would be built in an

architectural style compatible with the Masonic Hall and present a uniform streetscape. 

He stated they have not yet gone before the Board of Supervisors with this plan.

 

Ms. Harrison noted there is a reduction in parking proposed as well as a reduction in

handicap spaces.  She stated she would want to make sure that traffic from the bank will

not interfere with pedestrian traffic.  Mr. Murphy noted an area where handicap parking

could be provided as well as a sidewalk.  He stated they are wiling to work out the

internal circulation.  Mr. Ehrenfeld stated both of their exit/entrance points to the

Masonic Hall are handicap accessible. 

 

Mr. Allan stated he feels the intersection is horrendous at the current time.  He does not

feel there is any way to install a turning lane and no way to stack cars.  He stated he

would not approve anything like this at this location because of his concern with the

traffic.  He stated he feels lights will impact the residents on Edgewood Road. 

Mr. Murphy stated the lights would face the building - not across Edgewood Road.

Mr. Allan stated he still feels the lights will impact the residents in the area.  He asked

how many cars they estimate would be coming to the bank each day, and Mr. Parry stated

he feels it would be 150 to 200 with slightly more on Friday.  Mr. Allan stated he feels it

would be more than this number.

 

Mr. Koopman asked if the proposal is to re-zone the Woodside Presbyterian Church to

H/C, and Mr. Murphy stated it is not. 

 

Ms. Friedman stated the way it is proposed to be sited, it does not seem like it is part of

the H/C area.  She feels they are squeezing the bank into the corner and aesthetically she

is not in favor of it.  Mr. Murphy stated they felt it was a way to extend the Historic

Village concept at this location. 

 

Mr. Allan stated he is concerned with its proximity to the intersection because of the

number of  people who run the red lights in this area.

 

Mr. Gary Cruzan stated he resides across the street from this site.  He stated he was

opposed to the plan one year ago and is opposed to it again.  He stated if they start setting

precedents by changing zoning, there will be changes and banks on every corner.  He

stated there are a number of people running lights in this area.  He stated there are other

commercially-zoned sites in the Township for banks so there are other opportunities in

the Township.  He noted specifically the Matrix site which is zoned for a bank.  He noted

there are already two banks across the street from this property. 

 

 

February 23, 2004                                                         Planning Commission – page 4 of 8

 

 

It was the consensus of the Planning Commission members present this evening that they

did not feel this property was conducive to the use being proposed this evening.

 

Ms. Harrison moved, Mr. Allan seconded and it was unanimously carried to recommend

to the Board of Supervisors that the property not be re-zoned to H/C for the reasons

discussed in the Planning Commission member’s comments including the parking issue,

the building placement issue, aesthetics, traffic issues at the corner, and impact of lighting

on properties along Edgewood Road.

 

 

#532-A – FLOWERS-MADANY TRACT – PRELIMINARY PLAN DICUSSION

 

Mr. David Shafkowitz and Mr. Brian Focht were present.

 

Ms. Friedman stated she lives in Dolington Estates and will be excusing herself from this

discussion.  She will participate as a resident only.   Mr. Koopman stated since the

number of Planning Commission members remaining does not constitute a quorum, the

Planning Commission will not be able to make a recommendation this evening.

 

Mr. Shafkowitz noted the PCS letter dated 2/16/04.  He stated he would like to discuss

specifically the wetlands/wetlands buffer issue.  He stated the Plan as designed would

require Variances; however, it was suggested that they come before the Planning

Commission to discuss design alternatives and get feedback from the Planning

Commission on the disturbances.  He noted the center of the plan where Core Creek

intersects the property.  The Applicant is proposing a roadway in this area.  There is also

a wetlands buffer area which would be impacted where they want to connect the road to

Dolington Estates.  Detention basins would also be impacted.  Mr. Shafkowitz stated they

met with DEP and designed the basins based on their recommendations.

 

Ms. Harrison stated she is concerned with the impact on the environmentally-sensitive

areas because of flooding concerns which are a problem in Lower Makefield.

 Mr. Shafkowitz stated they are encroaching on the Waters of the Commonwealth. 

Mr. Majewski stated he would prefer that they allow the water to go overland before it

goes into the storm system.  Mr. Focht stated DEP recommended the proposed location

for the basins.  Mr. Chafkowitz stated they would be willing to work with Mr. Majewski

and the DEP on this matter.

 

Mr. Shafkowitz noted the road proposed to cross the Creek, and stated the actual area of

distance is 130 linear feet of actual disturbance and 180 total including the woodlands.

Mr. Koopman stated they are allowed a certain amount of woodland disturbance and

asked if they are in conformance with this requirement.  Mr. Focht stated they are. 

Mr. Majewski asked about the width of the disturbance across the Creek, and Mr. Focht

stated they can minimize some of this if they raise the end walls.

February 23, 2004                                                         Planning Commission – page 5 of 8

 

 

Mr. Allan asked how the run off will impact Mr. Sterling who farms the adjacent

property. Mr. Shafkowitz stated they are designing the project to conform with the

stormwater management requirements.    He stated the basins will collect the water that

currently flows off the site.  There will be thirty acres of open space between the

development portion and Mr. Sterling’s farm.  Mr. Majewski stated he does not feel this

will impact the area which Mr. Sterling farms.  Mr. Shafkowitz noted on the Plan the

area where no disturbance will take place. 

 

Mr. Shafkowitz stated in their attempt to limit the area of disturbance, they considered

not having the road go across the wetlands at all, although there would still be utilities

that would cross the wetlands. He stated they would have to have a cul-de-sac lay out if

they were to try to limit disturbance.  He presented a Plan showing this option.  Mr. Allan

stated he would prefer to see the roads connected because of emergency access concerns.

Ms. Frick stated they would have to get a waiver for length of cul-de-sac if they were

going to proceed with this option.  Mr. Majewski stated the Township has traditionally

liked to connect roads for emergency access; however there is also a feeling that

disturbance to the wetlands and woodlands is not desirable and it does create

maintenance problems for the Township particularly if a bridge-type structure would be

involved.  The Township is now considering if in some cases, a cul-de-sac may be more

desirable. 

 

Mr. Shafkowitz stated the other area of encroachment is for the proposed Graystone Lane

connection out to Washington-Crossing Road.  Mr. Focht stated they encroach into the

wetlands buffer by 20 feet, and there are 80 feet of Waters of the Commonwealth being

disturbed.  Mr. Shafkowitz stated they considered a cul-de-sac at this location as well

rather than making the connection out to Washington-Crossing Road.  Mr. Allan noted

this is a heavily-traveled road.  Ms. Friedman stated the traffic in this area will only

increase as they develop more of the upper area.  Mr. Shafkowitz stated they could

sketch out this cul-de-sac option and bring it back to the Planning Commission.

 

Ms. Barbara McGinnis, 2034 Silverwood Lane, stated she would not be in favor of

opening up Graystone from 532 because of the number of children playing in the area.

 

Mr. Santarsiero stated there are emergency-only type accesses which can be installed

which are for emergency vehicles only and not to be used by other traffic. 

 

Ms. Judy McGale asked the proposed cost of the new homes, and Mr. Chafkowitz stated

they would be similar to Dolington Estates.  Lot sizes are between three-quarters of an

acre and two acres. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked that the Planning Commission not permit through roads in any

capacity because of the relation of this development to 532. 

 

February 23, 2004                                                         Planning Commission – page 6 of 8

 

 

Ms. McGale stated she is concerned that she will now have residential properties abutting

her property and she will not have a tree line.  Mr. Majewski stated he has included

comments regarding the tree line in his review letter.  Ms. McGale noted that her

property is for sale. 

 

Mr. Allan stated before the Applicant comes back to the Planning Commission, he feels

they should go before the Board of Supervisors and get their input. 

 

Ms. McGinnis stated she would like to see a tree line between the new and existing

homes.

 

Ms. Friedman stated there are considerable woodlands in this area and asked if they are required to be 100% protected.   Ms. Frick stated they are required to save 70% of the woodlands according to the Ordinance.  Mr. Shafkowitz  stated they can work with

Mr. Majewski on what would be a suitable buffer. 

 

Mr. Majewski noted that some of the wooded area does not qualify as woodlands under

the Ordinance, and they are not required to preserve this; but he would suggest that they

carefully consider the grading in the area.

 

Ms. Frick asked if they should go to the Board of Supervisors at this time.  Ms. Harrison

stated she would prefer more of the Planning Commission members be present to provide

input.  Mr. Allan stated he would like to have them go to the Board of Supervisors and

receive input and then come back to the Planning Commission.  Ms. Harrison stated the

Board of Supervisors should be advised that the Planning Commission is concerned with

the buffer so that they do not negatively impact the adjoining residents.  They also have

concerns with the emergency vehicle access, the length of cul-de-sac, and the impact to

the wetlands.  She stated because of the size of the project, she is hesitant to make a

formal recommendation until more of the Planning Commission members are present.

Mr. Allan stated he feels it would be good for the Applicant to get the Board of

Supervisors’ impressions before they proceed much more on this project.

 

Mr. Peter McGale stated Gauks Lane is a very difficult left; and if they are going to make

an entire neighborhood come out at this location, it will be very difficult. Mr. Shafkowitz

stated Gauks Lane is in Newtown Township and they are going to take the Plan to

Newtown as well.  Mr. Majewski stated whether they have a through-road or a

cul-de-sac, they will still have to make some improvements to Gauks Lane because of

sight problems and problems with the intersection. 

 

Mr. Allan asked if there is any way they could connect Graystone and run it up rather

than impacting those on Gauks Lane.  Mr. Focht stated they did look at this but there was

a problem with the distance between intersections.  Mr. Shafkowitz stated it might also

impact the wetlands in this area.  Mr. Allan asked about the possibility of having

February 23, 2004                                                         Planning Commission – page 7 of 8

 

 

discussions with those on Gauks Lane and asking them if they would have a problem

with closing Gauks at 532 and instead have those residents access the developer’s road. 

Mr. Majewski stated they would have to meet with Newtown Township to see what

would need to be done.  Ms. Frick noted there are only three homes on Gauks at this

location, and they were notified about this evening’s meeting.  Mr. Allan stated possibly

it would be a good idea to have a few members from Lower Makefield and Newtown’s

Planning Commission meet to discuss this matter.  Mr. Shafkowitz stated the Newtown

and Lower Makefield engineers and Managers may be able to meet to discuss these

issues.

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Ms. Harrison stated she attended the Environmental Advisory Council on February 11. 

They will be involved in a Canal Day clean up on April 3 which will be a joint project

between the Yardley Borough and Lower Makefield Environmental Advisory Councils. 

They will work on an area between Black Rock Road and Yardley proper between

9:00 a.m. and Noon, followed by a luncheon.  They are also considering alternatives to the prior year’s Earth Day Celebration including having an Environmental Steward of the

Year Award to be presented at a banquet.  There was also discussion about the I-95

corridor/Scudders Falls Bridge project.  They are also considering ways to participate in

Canal Day scheduled for July 10.  There was discussion about the Brock Creek corridor

project which is a walkway from the Yardley Inn and the Magnet site.  A separate

meeting was held on this which Ms. Harrison also attended.  She stated this could impact

Lower Makefield as at one point it does abut Lower Makefield and they may want to

have an extension to this area as well.  At the EAC meeting on 2/11 there was also

discussion about having a hazardous waste collection in Lower Makefield.  Mr. Fegley

was considering a site in Lower Makefield owned by DeLuca, but their insurance

company would not permit this.  Mr. Fegley is still looking into this matter. There was

also discussion on the Macclesfield Park clean up where dumping had been done by

Westinghouse twenty-five years ago.  Mr. Fedorchak has applied for a grant for

remediation of the site from the Department of Community and Economic Development. 

Total clean up cost could be $1 million. 

 

Mr. Santarsiero asked how they will publicize the April 3 Clean Up Day, and

Ms. Harrison stated the Friends of the Canal are in charge of this Event.  She stated in the

future she feels they could contact various groups such as the Girls Scouts and Boys

Scouts to be involved.  Mr. Majewski stated they could use the Cable Channel to

publicize this event.

 

 

 

 

February 23, 2004                                                         Planning Commission – page 8 of 8

 

 

Ms. Friedman stated zoning for Age-Restricted housing will be an up and coming issue,

and she would like the Planning Commission to have an opportunity to research this and

be prepared to discuss it in the future.  Ms. Harrison asked if there are parcels available in

Lower Makefield that could accommodate this use, and Ms. Frick stated they do have

information on this.  She and Mr. Majewski agreed to provide information on this matter

to the Planning Commission members. 

 

 

There being no further business, Mr. Allan moved, Ms. Harrison seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 9:00 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                        Karen Friedman, Secretary