TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES – JUNE 28, 2004

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on June 28, 2004.  Chairman Pazdera called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

 

Those present:                          John Pazdera, Chairman

                                                Andrew Strauss, Vice Chairman

                                                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 Liaison

 

 

EDGEWOOD VILLAGE VISION PLAN

 

Ms. Helen Heinz, Historic Commission, and Mr. Carter VanDyke were present.

Ms. Heinz stated the March Associates Plan gave a mandate to create a Village, and the

Board of Supervisors accepted that Plan.  The proposed changes needed have been

presented to the Planning Commission, and Mr. VanDyke is present to discuss these.

Ms. Heinz stated once public sewers are available, they expect rapid development to

follow.

 

Mr. VanDyke stated a Grant was received and one part was to create Design Guidelines

which have been completed.  The second part was to approve Zoning consistent with the

guidelines.  Mr. VanDyke stated he has prepared the recommended amendments to the

Zoning Ordinance, the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance and to the Historic

District Regulations. 

 

Mr. VanDyke reviewed the Zoning Ordinance regulations which need to be changed. 

He noted the Definition section and revisions needed.  Some renumbering will also need

to be done.  Changes to Section #3 deal with the Authority of the Board.  They amended

Section #4 and added Section #5 which addresses the duties of the Building Inspection

and the Historic Architectural Review Board.  Item #6 was added and is “boilerplate”

from the State.  This area also discusses working with the HARB on renovations of

properties.  He stated this area also notes that a Certificate of Appropriateness is not

necessary if the renovations are limited to interior renovations.  You would still need a

permit from the Township for interior work. 

 

June 28, 2004                                                                Planning Commission – page 2 of 9

 

 

The second area has to do with amendments to the Zoning Districts.  They have

suggested modification of some of the uses which would be in keeping with a Historic

District and tried to work within the confines of the existing Zoning Ordinance  

 

They have suggested a change to the definition of “structure.  Ms. Frick stated this would

create a problem if they are changing the definition of “structure” for the entire

Ordinance.  Mr. Koopman stated the Zoning Department will have to review this. 

Mr. VanDyke stated he does not feel it is appropriate to have one definition for the

HARB District.  Mr. VanDyke stated the reason they are suggesting the revision is so that

they include all types of structures.  Ms. Frick stated she feels the way it is written

currently would cover all of these types of structures. Mr. VanDyke agreed to work with

Ms. Frick on this.   Ms. Friedman stated she feels the term “without limitation” gives the

feeling that they are getting carte blanche to do whatever they want on their property. 

Mr. VanDyke stated they wanted to broaden the definition of “structure.” 

 

Mr. VanDyke noted the Historic/Commercial District and stated they would like to

amend the permitted uses.  He stated they would like to see a mixture of uses including

apartments above a commercial use in the same building, and they are recommending

that they be required to provide at least a 200 square foot rear yard.  This would provide

some minimal outdoor space for the residents.  Mr. Santarsiero stated he feels it is

unlikely that they could make much significant use of this space.   Mr. VanDyke stated it

could be a second-story porch.  Mrs. Godshalk stated this would also prevent someone

from blacktopping it over.  Mr. VanDyke stated the intention was to provide some

outdoor space for people to use.  It was agreed that this amount of space would be

acceptable at a minimum. 

 

Mr. VanDyke stated the next Section deals with amendments to lot area design standards. 

He stated the Edgewood Village area has a number of non-conforming situations.  They

would prefer not to have mini-detention basins, and would like to require that there be

underground storm water detention systems.   This would recharge the groundwater. 

Mr. Majewski stated for this area, he feels this is appropriate.  Mr. VanDyke stated 80%

impervious surface is permitted.  Mr. Majewski stated he feels they must insure that

people do not pave over everything on their property.  He stated in other areas where he

has worked they do allow for porous paving, and Ms. Frick stated this is in an area that

the Township is just getting into.  Mr. VanDyke discussed a system which is used

elsewhere that uses all porous paving and results in zero run off.  The water percolates

into the groundwater and recharges in the ground.  Mr. Majewski stated this works if the

soil is okay; and if it is not, they use a process involving large stones.   Ms. Harrison

asked what would happen if there was clay underneath.  Mr. Majewski stated they could

put pipes in to store the water and have an outlet.  They would have to do soil testing to

verify the soil type.  Mr. Majewski stated he feels the soils in this area are good for

groundwater water recharge, but they would have to be tested. 

 

June 28, 2004                                                                Planning Commission – page 3 of 9

 

 

Mr. Strauss asked how old the oldest system is for this type of procedure, and

Mr. Majewski stated it would estimate it to be 1986.  Mr. Koopman stated usually there

are not bond provisions that go out for a significant length of time to guarantee that the

system would be maintained.  Mr. Majewski stated the Township Solicitor would have to

write out some kind of maintenance agreement to insure that it is being maintained. 

Mr. VanDyke stated in Doylestown they are required to have on-site systems  

He discussed the system which has been on his property since l978.

 

Mrs. Godshalk asked if it would be feasible to hook in the drain pipes as well. 

Mr. Majewski stated typically this is done with underground systems.  Mr. VanDyke

stated the other Townships they work with require that the drain pipes hook in along with

a clean-out device to maintain it.

 

Ms. Susanne Curran noted Yardleyville Square which has an underground drainage

system which is over twenty years old, and they have not had any problems. 

 

Ms. Harrison asked if this would be for new construction only.  Mr. VanDyke stated it

could be retrofit or new construction.  Mrs. Godshalk stated it would include restoration.

 

Mr. VanDyke noted the changes to setbacks for accessory structures. He stated this is

needed because they have very small lots.   Ms. Frick asked what they are considering to

be the front setback.  Mr. VanDyke stated he feels they could add building setback line or

front of the building whichever is greater.

 

Amendments to the Supplementary Regulations were discussed to clarify wording.

 

Section #34 was noted on General Regulations applicable to all uses.  With regard to

setback amendments, Ms. Frick stated this is a significant change because Edgewood

Road goes through the District and it currently has a large setback.  She stated this

change will make prior unbuildable lots to be buildable.  Mr. VanDyke stated in working

with the Historic Commission, they felt 20’ was a reasonable setback to preserve the

character of the Village.  Ms. Frick suggested that they take out the reference to “as

determined by deed.”  And that it state “existing legal right-of-way.”  Mr. Koopman

asked what Zoning Districts this would apply to.  It was noted that the Masonic Hall is

zoned R-2 but in the Historic District, and these regulations would apply to that property. 

Mr. Koopman stated this would also involve R-4.  He stated he can see this change in the

Historic/Commercial Zoning District, but when you apply it to other Zoning Districts,

they many not want these relaxed regulations to apply.   Mrs. Godshalk stated they must

look at the fact that there is a lot of open area in the Historic District, and if it is

developed, those will be Township roads.  Ms. Frick noted that Edgewood Road is

currently a Township road through the Village.  Mrs. Godshalk asked if they are going to

vary the setbacks between State roads and Township roads, and Mr. Koopman stated he

 

June 28, 2004                                                                Planning Commission – page 4 of 9

 

 

feels it would apply to all roads within these Districts.  Mr. Koopman stated he feels they

need to look at this further.  Mr. VanDyke stated they wanted to maintain the continuity

of the frontages if there is infill development.  Mr. Koopman stated they need to look at

this carefully.  He stated there are Zoning Districts and there is an overlay of the Zoning

District and the concept was that when they were identified, even if they were in a

different Zoning District, they still need to meet certain requirements because of the

proximity of the Historic District.  He stated he does not feel they can make distinctions

within the Zoning District.  Ms. Heinz stated she does not want to spot zone anything. 

She stated they do want to encourage building toward the front of the lot rather than

having the parking in the front. 

 

There was discussion on the Masonic Temple and plans which have recently come before

the Township for that property.  Mr. VanDyke stated he would prefer that they move the

existing building on that lot closer to the road and have the parking in the rear. 

Mr. Koopman stated he is concerned that once they relax the standards, they may be

opening the door for certain possibilities they may be concerned with.

 

Mrs. Godshalk asked if they could legally give a maximum size of the building in the

Historic District to something like 2,000 to 3,000 square feet.  Mrs. Godshalk stated they

would like to be able to plan a streetscape and the size of the buildings.  Mr. Koopman

stated he feels they may be able to do this.  Mr. VanDyke stated under the Section under

HARB, they did discuss this but they could add something to specifically address infill.

Mr. VanDyke agreed to look at this further. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked who would address the safety concerns if a building is permitted to

be close to the road on the corner which could create an unsafe situation.   Mr. Majewski

stated there are sight distance requirements.  Mr. Koopman stated he does feel they need

to look at the impact these revisions will have on specific properties.  He stated they must

consider the potential impact on the R-2, R-4, and the Commercial District. 

Ms. Friedman stated they must give particular attention to busy corners.  Mr. VanDyke

stated the Traditional Neighborhood Design does require that they adhere to sight

triangles.  Mr. Majewski stated there are situations where you can meet the sight triangle

but it still creates a safety concern.  Mr. Koopman stated sight triangle and sight distance

are not the same thing.  Mrs. Godshalk stated they are also hoping to drop the speed limit

quite a bit in this area.  Currently it is 35 to 40 miles per hour.

 

Mr. VanDyke stated currently the Ordinance requires reverse frontage for infill

development, and they are suggesting that this not be applicable for the infill

development.  He stated they are also suggesting that new development have the same

setbacks as existing development.  Mr. VanDyke stated they felt 20’ is established and

this is why they recommended this.  He stated in Traditional Neighborhood

Development, access is through the interior streets, alleys, etc.  He stated fences and

hedges can be located in the existing right-of-way line provided they do not interfere

June 28, 2004                                                                Planning Commission – page 5 of 9

 

 

since this is where they are currently.  Ms. Frick stated this does make it difficult for the

snowplows.  Mr. Majewski stated they must also consider Township liability if there is a

fence in the right-of-way line.  It was suggested that this be changed to 6” outside the

right-of-way line. 

 

Ms. Friedman stated she still feels that her concerns have not been addressed. 

Mr. Koopman stated he does not feel that they are prepared tonight to come up with the

modifications for this, and they should look and see what impact this will have on the

development outside of the Historic/Commercial District particularly in the Commercial

District, in the R-4, and R-2 where the Masonic Hall and other properties are located. 

They must also insure that the sight distances and sight triangles requirements are strong

enough and forceful enough. 

 

 

Mr. Majewski stated other Township do limit the size of the building or expansion to a

certain percentage larger than the existing buildings on either side of the property.

Mr. VanDyke stated he is working in another Township where they have indicated that

infill cannot exceed the average square footage.  They are about 3,000 square feet and it

matches the scale of the neighborhood. This would be two-story construction. 

 

Mr. Allan asked the size of the largest parcel which could be developed.  Ms. Heinz

stated there is a ten acre parcel in the R-2 zone.  Ms. Heinz stated the Masonic Temple

parcel is the next largest.  Mr. VanDyke stated if you look at the Historic Guidelines, they

do address the scale issue.  He stated if there are multiple structures, you state that the

average of multiple structures would be no more than 2,500 to 3,000 square feet.  He

stated they can look into this further.  This would make the facades have a similar scale. 

Mr. VanDyke stated he will prepare something that addresses the issue of scale.

 

There was discussion on buffers.  Mr. VanDyke stated he took the same standards

currently in the Ordinance that deal with type of buffers – Types I through IV.  He stated

the difference is in the buffer width which are much less that what they currently have. 

He stated there are also requirements for fencing.  He provided a book this evening which

shows an example of these buffer requirements.  He stated they would not be able to get

the infill they need if they required large buffers.  He stated they have also provided

guidelines on the buffer requirements if they abut farmland.  Ms. Frick stated currently

they require the developers to put in a Type II PennDOT fence if they about farmland. 

Mr. VanDyke stated he felt the land owned by the Township was Farmland Preservation

land.    Mr. Koopman stated the land involved is not owned by the Farmland Preservation

Corporation, it is owned by the Township. Mr. VanDyke stated they wanted to make

provisions for the land abutting the Patterson Farm.  It was suggested that they take out

the words “Farmland Preservation” and just state “farmland.”  Mr. Koopman stated this is

why they need to look at these properties specifically to see what they are getting into. 

 

June 28, 2004                                                                Planning Commission – page 6 of 9

 

 

Mrs. Godshalk stated the Patterson Farm is wooded area at this location – not farmland.  

It was suggested that they change the wording to “preserved open space.”   Mr. Koopman

stated they may have to define this better so that they do not have to put a buffer adjacent

to all the detention basins as well.  Mr. VanDyke agreed to work further on this. 

 

There was discussion on the General Parking Requirements. Mr. VanDyke stated they are

suggesting that since some of the lots are so small that it be permitted to lease parking to

comply with the requirements.  He noted Lahaska where parking is not on the specific

property.  Mr. Majewski stated they have made it a requirement that parking be a minimum of five feet off the property line, and feels this could be a problem if people are sharing parking.  Mr. VanDyke stated he will have to address this. 

 

There was discussion on signs.  He stated signs would have to be externally lit. 

Mr. Koopman stated “directly illuminated” is the term they currently use, and

Mr. VanDyke stated his suggestion is consistent with this.

 

There was further discussion on the parking.  Mr. VanDyke stated they would have to

provide a parking space specifically for a use that is off site if they cannot provide for it

on site.  Mr. Strauss asked what would happen if that space were no longer available. 

Mr. VanDyke stated they provide language that requires this space or you lose your

rights.  Mr. Strauss stated he feels they need to discuss this further. 

 

Mr. VanDyke stated they are working with the Historic Commission to develop the

sidewalks, street lights, and trees, etc. and they will then go out for Grant money for these

items.  

 

Mr. VanDyke noted the revisions needed to the Subdivision and Land  Development

Ordinance.  He noted street standards which addresses cartways and right-of-ways.  He

stated 26’ for these streets should be fine since most of the parking will be accessed from

the back.  He stated a street width of this size also results in traffic calming. 

Mr. Majewski asked if they envision sidewalks, and Mr. VanDyke stated they do.  They

envision sidewalks on all the arterials and are going for Grant money for these.  He stated

street trees would be outside of the right-of-way. 

 

Mr. VanDyke noted the required curb radius.  They would recommend 20’ within the

Historic District.  This allows for more walkable sidewalks. 

 

Street access and driveways were noted.  Mr. VanDyke stated the minimum distance is

reduced to 2’ for the Historic District.  Ms. Frick stated they did have problems with

driveways in the past and this is why they required it to be 5’.  Mr. VanDyke stated they

want to encourage people to share driveway access so that there are minimal curb cuts. 

Mrs. Godshalk asked how the alleys are addressed, and Mr. VanDyke stated he does not

 

June 28, 2004                                                              Planning Commission – page 7 of 9

 

 

feel they have addressed these.  Ms. Harrison stated she would prefer that they access

from the rear rather than the front.  Mr. VanDyke agreed to work on language on this.

 

Mr. VanDyke stated they added a section on lighting which refers to the Design

Guidelines.  Mr. Koopman stated they could make the Design Guidelines an addendum.

 

Mr. VanDyke stated buffer yards are the same as in the Zoning Ordinance, and he will

add “C” as previously discussed with regard to the farmland property. 

 

With regard to stormwater management, they added a Sub-Section G on design criteria

and the fact that no retention or surface retention is acceptable.  Mr. Majewski agreed to

send Mr. VanDyke some minor technical wording changes.

 

Mr. VanDyke stated he will do some additional work on the documents.  He asked how

they should address the setbacks.  Mr. VanDyke was asked to come back with some

recommendations on this. 

 

Ms. Ann Langtry stated when the March Associates document came out it was

recommended that they not sit and wait for the right person to come along to develop the

Village, but that they pursue the type of developer they would like to have come in; and

she asked if there is any legal ramification to them doing this.  Mr. Koopman stated he

feels they are free to do so.  Ms. Langtry stated if the Planning Commission sees

anyone’s work they like or a development they like, she asked that they notify the

Historic Commission about this. 

 

Mr. Stephen Heinz stated if they are proactive they can enhance the area. He stated if

they have enough density, it will be a destination where people want to go.  He stated he

would also like to suggest a design competition sponsored through the local schools and

universities.  He stated the March Associates Guidelines could be given as a starting

point. 

 

Ms. Harrison stated Newtown Township is much more pedestrian-friendly than Yardley

Borough because it is easy to walk where there are not cut-throughs and driveways.  She

stated if they want it to be a destination point with shops, it will be different than if they

want it to be a residential area.  Mr. VanDyke stated there is a lot of traffic on these

roads; and as traffic increases, it makes it less conducive for people to want to live there. 

He stated the Historic/Commercial makes this conducive to having it be developed as a

commercial area with restaurants, etc. once the public sewers come in.  He stated the

street lights will also enhance the area. This work is ongoing so that they can go out and

get Grant money.  He stated once you make these public improvements, the private sector

will follow. 

 

 

June 28, 2004                                                               Planning Commission – page 8 of 9

 

 

Mr. Santarsiero discussed the Bank which recently came in proposing development of a

property in this area.  He stated the Board of Supervisors advised them that the Township

wanted to move ahead with the planning for this area first.  He stated he sees this as a

community area which the Township does not currently have.  He feels Mr. Heinz’s idea

for a design competition is great, and they should proceed with this.  He stated he feels

they need to push the Zoning changes and get this done and move expeditiously on a

design plan and getting developers interested. 

 

Mrs. Godshalk stated she also feels strongly about the residential area since the shops

would need a certain number of people coming through.  She stated older people and

young families may want to live in a Village like this where they can walk to the bank

and to shops.  Mr. VanDyke stated typically the Villages do have retirees living in them. 

 

 

#544 – LIBERTY PROPERTY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP FINAL PLAN APPROVAL

 

Mr. Bruce Hartlein, Mr. John Hunt, and Mr. Erik Ostenchuck were present.  Mr. Hartlein

stated they did discuss traffic patterns with the Board of Supervisors and revised their

Plans to meet their concerns. 

 

Mr. Ostenchuck stated there was no way to line up the northern driveway with the

driveway across the street, but they did eliminate the Board’s concern through use of

goring which are paint markings on the roadway.  They have provided a structured left

turn lane at the entering driveway.  Currently there are no markings on the roadways.

He showed the location of the goring on the Plan.  This forces drivers to go into a drive

lane and not the center lane.   It acts as a deterrent if it is stripped to indicate it is not to be

driven on.  This will enable a driver to make a left turn out of the driveway, but you must

wait until it is clear to go into the left turn lane.  It was noted this is only painted in the

street.  Mr. Allan stated he is not sure how much of a deterrent this will be. 

Mr. Ostenchuck stated that do not feel a significant number of people will be making a

left turn out of the northern driveway during the peak time.  Mr. Allan asked about the

installation of a small median where the goring is shown.  Mr. Majewski stated the

median would be approximately two feet wide.  Mr. Allan noted other areas where they

could place these as well to provide for continuity along this roadway.  Mr. Majewski

stated he would be concerned with this because the Township plows this area.  He feels

the gore stripping will help the situation.  Mr. Ostenchuck stated barriers would also

present a maintenance issue. 

 

Mr. Koopman suggested that they initially have the goring but have some kind of

mechanism to require the property owner to change it in the future if there are problems. 

Mr. Allan stated he wants to make sure that the developer is responsible for these changes

if they need to be made in the future.  Mr. Hartlein stated with the current use there are

trucks coming out of the site, and there is no goring. 

June 28, 2004                                                               Planning Commission – page 9 of 9

 

 

Ms. Harrison asked if they are going to have sidewalks; and Mr. Hartlein stated the

sidewalks are on the opposite side, and they will pay Fee-In-Lieu.  The Board of

Supervisors did grant a Wavier for sidewalks.  The Board was also not in favor of a

crosswalk in this area. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked about impervious surface, and Mr. Hunt stated it is 57.5%. 

 

Mr. Pazdera stated the Police Department did review the Plans, and did not indicate they

had any concerns.

 

Mr. Hartlein stated they will comply with the items in the PCS letter dated 6/14/04.

 

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

to the Board of Supervisors approval of the Final Plans based on the information received

with the caveat that in the event there are traffic incidents or close incidents that the

Board of Supervisors is made aware of, that the developer will be responsible to create

some type of barrier that will help to lower the number of accidents via a raise or elevated

barrier. This would be for a period of five years from the date of full occupancy.  Also

subject to the PCS letter dated 6/14/04.

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

There was discussion on the recent opening of the Super Fresh Supermarket.  Ms. Frick

stated they did pass Final Inspection with some Conditions but they did not have a

Certificate of Occupancy. It was noted there were some items which were supposed to be

done as part of Land Development Approval which were not done.  Ms. Frick stated

when the TCO is issued, it will have all the conditions on it.

 

 

There being no further business, the meting as adjourned at 9:50 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                        Karen Friedman, Secretary