TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES – MARCH 22, 2004

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on March 22, 2004.  Chairman Pazdera called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:   John Pazdera, Chairman

                                                Andrew Strauss, Vice Chairman (left meeting in progress)

                                                Karen Friedman, Secretary (joined meeting in progress)

                                                Fred Allan, Member

                                                Cynthia Harrison, Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                John Koopman, Township Solicitor

                                                James Majewski, Township Engineer

                                                Drew Wagner, Township Engineer

                                                Steve Santarsiero, Supervisor Liaison

 

 

HISTORICAL COMMISSION – PRESENTATION BY CARTER VAN DYKE

 

Mr. Carter VanDyke was present with Ms. Helen Heinz, Historic Commission.

Mr. VanDyke stated a number of years ago he began developing historic guidelines.  This

evening he is presenting proposed amendments to the Subdivision and Land

Development Ordinance, amendments to the Zoning Ordinance, and amendments to the

Zoning Ordinance which pertain to the Historic District.  He stated as they developed the

Design Guidelines they noticed that there were conflicts with the Ordinances in place

which needed to be addressed.  They anticipate that, in the not too distant future, there

will be sewers in Edgewood Village; and when that happens, they feel there will be a lot

of opportunity for infill development.

 

Mr. VanDyke reviewed the proposed amendments to the Subdivision and Land

Development Ordinance including changes to street widths, reduction of radius for

collector roads, and access driveway setback amendments.  He has also proposed a new

Section C requiring street lights which meet the Design Guidelines and a new Section D

with reference to lighting.  Recommendations are also made for off-street parking as well

as new buffer standards for the Historic District.   With regard to stormwater

management, because of problems experienced in the past in other Historic Districts, they

have recommended that there not be detention basins but that all stormwater detention be

addressed underneath the parking areas.

 

March 22, 2004                                                           Planning Commission – page 2 of 10

 

 

With regard to changes needed to the Zoning Ordinance, they have modified definitions

of structures to comply with the recommendations of the State Historic Museum

Commission.  They have also developed additional standards for the

Historic/Commercial District which are in keeping with the Historic Neighborhood

Design Guidelines.  Buffer requirements are similar to what was described in the

Subdivision Land Development regulations.  Mr. VanDyke also noted the parking

requirements on Page 5 and stated they are recommending joint parking within the

Historic/Commercial District. This would allow two or more uses to make use of a

common parking lot.  Parking would also be permitted off premises of a parcel provided

it is within 500’ of the use.  This would be reviewed annually by the Township.  No

directly illuminated signs will be permitted.

 

A number of changes are also recommended for the Historic District and need to be

incorporated into the Zoning Ordinance.  A new series of definitions has been proposed. 

On Page 2, they define all the parcels which are within the Historic District.

Mr. VanDyke stated this took a significant amount of time because there were a number

of conflicting maps.

 

Mr. Koopman stated there was an Ordinance adopted by the Township many years ago

that created the Historic District and that Ordinance did identify parcels. He asked if they

are adding to his, and Mr. VanDyke stated they are.  Ms. Frick asked if any parcels have

been taken away, and Mr. VanDyke stated they have not.  Ms. Frick asked the number of

parcels they are adding, and Mr. VanDyke stated he feels it is three to four.  He stated

they are not extending the District, but there were holes within the District which they

have addressed. 

 

On Page 4 they amended the duties of the Building Inspector which is more procedural. 

They have also upgraded the Checklist so the Code Enforcement Officer has an

appropriate Checklist for reviewing these properties.  They also outline the considerations

and determination that the Historic Architectural Review Board makes when they

consider an Application.  Mr. VanDyke stated HARB has developed a library of resource

information which is a good source of information for people trying to redevelop these

properties.

 

Mr. VanDyke asked that the Planning Commission digest this information so that

hopefully they will be able to make a recommendation the next time they come before the

Commission.

 

Ms. Harrison asked if there is a map depicting the parcels, and Mr. VanDyke noted the

map that was included although it does not specifically list the parcels.  Mr. VanDyke

agreed to make something more definitive available to the Commission.  Ms. Frick

provided this evening the Guidelines Booklet to the new members of the Planning

Commission.  

March 22, 2004                                               Planning Commission – page 3 of 10

 

 

Mr. Koopman stated the Historic District encompasses four Zoning Districts. 

Mr. VanDyke stated the way they have written this is that it only applies to that portion of

the Districts which overlay the Historic District.  Mr. Koopman asked if any of the R-4 is

open, and it was noted R-4 in this area is already developed.  It was noted the Zoning will

not change.  Only those areas within the Historic District will be affected.

 

Ms. Harrison stated she feels they should also know which parcels could still be

developed so that they can compare how it would look if it were developed under these

new requirements.   Mr. VanDyke stated a study was done prior to this work which was

called the March Study, and they did some vision planning showing how infill

development could take place.  They also looked beyond the Historic District if the

Township was interested in having the Historic District expand.  Ms. Ann Langtry stated

they can make additional copies of the March Study available.   Ms. Harrison stated she

would like to review these items adding that she would be in favor of the Village concept,

but does not want there to be the potential for abuse by a developer.

 

 

#538 – BOXWOOD FARMS – PRELIMINARY PLAN APPROVAL

 

Mr. Murphy, attorney, and Mr. Joe Marrazzo, were present.  Mr. Murphy stated in

November they presented a revised set of Subdivision Plans.  The parcel is located on

Oxford Valley Road and is slightly less than six acres.  There is currently one single-

family home on the parcel.  They are proposing the relocation of this home and the

construction of seven new homes.  Following the November meeting, they revised the

Plans and a new PCS letter dated 2/17/04 was received.  Mr. Murphy stated they will

comply with all items in this PCS letter.

 

Item #1 was noted which identifies the three waivers requested.  These were discussed

previously, and the Planning Commission indicated they would be in support of these

items.  Mr. Murphy stated they are recommending Fee-In-Lieu of active recreation. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked if the barn is historic, and Mr. Murphy stated it is not.  He stated it is

in ruins.

 

Mr. Murphy stated the existing home will be re-located and will face Oxford Valley

Road.  The house is from the late 1800’s.  The home will be moved forward 70 feet.

 

Ms. Harrison asked about the problems of seepage into the basements on Lots #5 and #6. 

Mr. Murphy stated there was some question about the adequacy of the inlets, and PCS

was going to look into this.  Mr. Majewski stated he did do a field investigation and

looked at the site in conjunction with the calculations for water coming through the

emergency spillway.  He is confident there will not be any problems.

 

March 22, 2004                                               Planning Commission – page 4 of 10

 

 

Mr. Allan noted the entrance to Lot #1 and asked if the house could be “flip-flopped” so

that the entrance is away from the intersection.  Mr. Marrazzo stated he would not have a

problem with doing a reverse on this lot.

 

Ms. Helen Heinz asked that they not move the house because the value of the house is

its existing location on Oxford Valley Road.   She does not feel it should be turned

sideways as it is the siting of the house which is what makes it important.  Ms. Heinz

stated the property slopes up and from the road currently, and you can see the house and

the barn as it was in 1856.  She noted some of the original boxwoods are still in place.

Mr. Murphy stated the foundation of the home is crumbling and the plate of the home is

rotted.  He added there is very little of the historic landscaping surviving.  There is a

clump of older boxwoods, and Mr. Marrazzo will re-create some of the landscaping

materials in front of the home when it its relocated so you can see it from the road. 

He stated he feels moving it a short distance and turning it so people traveling on Oxford

Valley Road can see it will enable travelers to be reminded how the property looked in

the past. 

 

Mr. Allan stated he feels if they have to jack the house up anyway, they could rehab the

house at its current location. He stated it does make a nice presentation at the current time

at its existing location.  Mr. Murphy stated they will have to relocate the driveway as

well.  The home will still face Oxford Valley Road once it is relocated.  He stated if they

leave the home where it is located now, a new home would be built in front of it and you

would not be able to see the older home from the road.  Mr. Majewski stated they would

also need to get additional Variances if the lots were pushed back because of the impact

on the woods.  Ms. Heinz stated this area was more agricultural in the 1800s, and the

woods are not on the map.  Mr. Murphy stated they are trying to make an effort to

preserve the property.

 

Ms. Ann Langtry stated Mr. Murphy is familiar with projects that have been done by

Mr. DeLuca who has been very willing to change lot sizes and plans in order to retain

historic structures.  She stated they are asking that the Planning Commission recommend

leaving the house where it is and work with the lot configuration to make this possible.

 

Mr. Pazdera stated if they left the house where it is located, it would still be 30’ off the

new Penny Lane even if they lost a lot.  He stated the developer is not required to save

the house.  Ms. Heinz stated if you move the house it loses its historic value.  She stated

she would prefer they knock it down rather than move it.  Mr. Pazdera stated he would

prefer that they move the house slightly rather than lose it.

 

Mr. Marrazzo stated he has seen pictures of the previous landscaping and would be

willing to work with the Historic Commission to try to reinvent this provided it makes

sense on the property. He stated economically it is less expensive to tear the house down

than it is to move it.

March 22, 2004                                               Planning Commission – page 5 of 10

 

 

Ms.  Harrison asked if it was a condition of approval that they preserve this house, and it

was noted it is not a requirement that the house be preserved. 

 

Ms. Heinz asked if this recreated landscaping would be dedicated to the Township since

the new property owner could take it out.  It was noted it would be deeded to the lot. 

 

Ms. Harrison stated if they are restoring the house rather than tearing it down, she feels it

adds value to the Township.

 

Ms. Friedman asked if there was a way to protect the house from being torn down by a future owner.  Mr. Koopman stated here are facade easements and other sorts of easements that could be attached to the house.  A facade easement would require that the facade fronting the street could not be changed.  Mr. Marrazzo stated he would be willing to agree to this.

 

Ms. Friedman noted the house is currently sitting on a hill and asked if there is any way

to restore this.  Mr. Marrazzo stated it will not sit exactly at the same elevation as it does

currently.  Ms. Friedman asked if they could come close to that elevation with grading

provided it does not impact stormwater management. Mr. Marrazzo stated currently it is

10’ from curb height and it is proposed to be 8’ once relocated.  He stated they will have

an elevation change because of the new foundation; and provided it does not impact

stormwater calculations, he would be willing to work on this. 

 

Mr. Ed Cotterell stated his home backs up to Lot #5 and feels a nice development of

single family homes is the best option for the property if they must have something other

than open space. 

 

Mr. Majewski stated he does not feel there is anything of major substance on the

engineer’s review letter that would prohibit making a recommendation at this time.                                                    

 

Ms. Friedman asked how far back they could push the home on the building lot without

creating a problem for the use of the lot.  Ms. Frick stated if they push it back, it will not

give the property owner the opportunity to have anything in their rear yard. 

 

Ms. Harrison moved, Mr. Strauss seconded and it was unanimously carried to recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of the Preliminary Plan subject to:

 

            1.  Compliance with PCS letter dated 2/17/04;

 

            2.  Compliance with CKS letter dated 2/12/04;

 

 

 

March 22, 2004                                               Planning Commission – page 6 of 10

 

 

            3.  Developer agrees to work with the Township to preserve a Facade

                  Easement on the historic house which will be acceptable in terms

                  to the developer and the Township, and that the developer

                  landscape the front of the house as close as possible to the original

                  landscaping design and trying to keep the elevation as close as

                  possible to the existing elevation taking into consideration drainage

                  requirements.

 

Mr. Strauss left the meeting at this time.

 

 

#548 – THOMAS GOUGH PRELIMINARY/FINAL MINOR SUBDIVISION APPROVAL

 

Mr. Murphy was present with Mr. Thomas Gough.  Mr. Murphy stated the property has

frontage on Houston Road and University Drive.  It is a six acre property.  They propose

to retain the existing home and pond on 4 ½ acres which will be Lot #1.  Lot #2 will be

1 ¼ acres and will be purchased by Mr. Gough upon which he will build a new home. 

Lot #3 will be added to the adjacent parcel –Tax Parcel #20-22-141.

 

The PCS review letter dated 3/16/04 was noted.  Mr. Murphy noted the Waivers being

requested.  Mr. Majewski stated they did discuss with the Applicant ways to reduce the

stormwater run off.  They are recommending that they plant a meadow in between the

house and where the water would cross into the pond.  The water that goes into the pond

will not increase by any measurable amount after construction.  They feel the Waivers

requested are appropriate.

 

Mr. Murphy noted items #2 and #4 and stated these discuss whether this Application

should be considered a Minor Subdivision.  Mr. Majewski stated if the Board of

Supervisors determine that road improvements are required in front of the lot, this would

then be considered a Major Subdivision.  He stated he does not feel road improvements

are necessary.  Mr. Murphy noted there were discussions some years ago about

improvements to the road on the opposite side of the street, and the property owners in

the area were very much opposed to this.  Mr. Murphy stated they would be willing to

restrict Lots #1 and #2 from further subdivision. 

 

Mr. Majewski stated there must also be a restriction regarding the meadow to be planted,

and he would recommend a separate document memorializing this.

 

Ms. Linda Buben stated her rear yard will back up to the new home.  She is concerned

with water on the property after construction.  She stated she has had a constant water

problem since the homes were built on the opposite side of the street.  Mr. Murphy stated

the water is running away from Ms. Buben’s property.  Ms. Buben stated she was told

March 22, 2004                                                           Planning Commission – page 7 of 10

 

 

this as well when Afton Crest was built, and she now has water which she never had in

the twelve years prior to Afton Crest’s construction.

 

Mr. Gene Harzinski stated some years ago Mr. Keats presented a development plan for

this property and there was concern that any building on the property would be in

jeopardy because of the way the water flows in this area.  Mr. Murphy stated at that time

they were proposing two lots as opposed to one. He noted the proposed lot size is three

times the minimum permitted. 

 

Ms. Buben stated they were told that the water table possibly changed when the new

development was constructed.  Ms. Harrison stated in looking at the diagram, it appears

everything is flowing away from Ms. Buben’s property.  Mr. Harzinski stated he does

have some additional water problems but not to the extent that Ms. Buben has.  He stated

he has a walk-out basement.  He stated water flows down from University Drive and right

onto the property under discussion.  Mr. Gough stated he is familiar with the water in the

area and recognizes that the pond is the low area.  Mr. Murphy stated Ms. Buben’s parcel

is above this property and noted water will not flow uphill. 

 

Mr. Ken Ross, 1078 Houston Road, stated his home is at the highest point and all the

water goes down like a river to DeLuca’s detention basin.  No water that hits the street

has ever gone onto the property they are discussing building on although there is a lot of

water that goes through the rear yards.  He stated he has had water problems with a small

sinkhole and feels there may be an underground stream.  He does not feel Afton Crest has

anything to do with any water problems people are experiencing.

 

Mr. Majewski stated possibly as a condition of approval, they could require that

Mr. Gough dig a test pit where the new house is to be sited. Mr. Gough stated he has

done six test pits and will submit this information to the Township.  He stated they found

only one pit had water at 14’ in a twenty-four hour period.  The basement will be 7’

deep.  Ms. Friedman asked if the existing property owner on this parcel has indicated that

they have had water problems, and Mr. Gough stated he has not heard of any problems

from the individual who is the seller.  Mr. Allan stated he feels they should request more

extensive test borings before approval.  Mr. Gough stated since he is building the home

for his family, he would prefer not to bear any more expense since he has already done

six tests.   Mr. Allan stated he is concerned about the potential sale of the property in the

future.  Mr. Gough noted his property will be 5’ below Ms. Buben’s basement floor. 

Mr. Majewski stated he is comfortable with the developer’s proposal. 

 

Mr. Allan suggested to Ms. Buben that she contact the Township and ask that they look

into whether there is a crack in the storm drain that is causing Ms. Buben to get this much

water.

 

 

March 22, 2004                                                           Planning Commission – page 8 of 10

 

 

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

to the Board of Supervisors approval of the Thomas Gough Preliminary/Final Minor

Subdivision Plan subject to compliance with the PCS letter dated 3/16/04 and the CKS

letter dated 2/16/04.

 

 

#532-A – FLOWERS-MADANY TRACT PRELIMINARY PLAN DISCUSSION ON REVISED LAYOUT

 

Ms. Friedman excused herself from this discussion as it is in close proximity to her property.

 

Mr. Joe Sotek was present and presented a revised sketch showing two separate

cul-de-sacs as opposed to the through road.  He stated they have also provided for an

emergency-access easement from Washington-Crossing Road to the development.  

The easement will be provided along Lot #1.  This was the direction they were given by

the Board of Supervisors. 

 

Mr. Allan asked the proposed cost of the new homes, and Mr. Sotek stated they will be

approximately $600,000.  

 

Mr. Sotek stated they will need Waivers for the length of cul-de-sac. 

 

Mr. Allan suggested that they build the houses as far away from the easement as possible

on Lots #1 and #3.  Mr. Sotek stated Lot #1 is a flag lot.  He stated they could put the

emergency access between Lots #5 and #6.  Lot #2 will take access to Washington-

Crossing Road.

 

Mr. Majewski stated Lot #18 is shown as a building lot, and he noted they may want to

shift this someplace else on the plan possibly next to Lot #21 because of concern with the

wetlands and the ponds and the need for a Variance.

 

Ms. Frick asked that Lot #5 be given some additional land from Lot #2 so that Lot #5 will

have a more usable rear yard.  Mr. Majewski stated they should also look at Lots #3 and

#4 in this regard.  Mr. Allan suggested that they be made one acre each. 

 

Mr. Tom Ames, 61 Gaucks Lane Newtown Township, asked if the cul-de-sac that is off

Gaucks Lane will be dedicated to Lower Makefield Township, and it was noted that it

will.  Mr. Ames stated the portion of Gaucks Lane which is in Newtown Township is one

of the last streets to be plowed in Newtown Township, and the Lower Makefield plows

will have to go through this to get to their portion of Gaucks Lane.  Mr. Majewski stated

he feels Newtown and Lower Makefield should meet to discuss what they want to do

with Gaucks Lane. 

March 22, 2004                                                           Planning Commission – page 9 of 10

 

 

Mr. Allan noted Lot #29 and asked where access for this lot is proposed.  Mr. Sotek

stated he feels it might be off Gaucks Lane.  This lot is in Newtown Township. 

 

Mr. Koopman noted they will need relief for crossing the stream.  Mr. Sotek stated this

will be for the utilities.  Mr. Majewski stated Road B also crosses the stream.

 

Ms. Friedman noted the area parallel to Silverwood and asked the impact on the

woodlands.  Mr. Sotek stated they will look at this area; and if they need to remove

vegetation, they will look into replacing the buffer.

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Ms. Friedman reported on the discussions which took place at the Environmental

Advisory Council.  She provided information on the proposed clean-up at Macclesfield

Park.  Federal and State Grants are being applied for, but the Township will need to

discuss setting aside funds to pay for the balance if Grants do not pay for the full clean-up

cost.  Lower Makefield will work with the Yardley Borough EAC and the Friends of the

Canal on a Canal Clean-Up to be held the morning of April 3.  There were also

discussions about contacting the DCNR about the possibility of adopting sections of the

Canal for continual clean-up throughout the year.  The LMT EAC is also discussing ways

to be involved in Yardley’s Canal Day to be held on July 10.  There was discussion on a

Hazardous Materials Collection to be held in Lower Makefield.  They are still looking

into finding a location in the Township where this could be held.  The EAC also

discussed the Brock Creek corridor Master Plan.  This could impact Lower Makefield at

the north end of the trail.  The next meeting on this matter is Wednesday, May 17th at the

Old Library on Afton Lake where the final master plan will be presented.  The EAC also

discussed the possibility of presenting an Environmental Steward Award for those

preserving the environment.  They will draw up a mission statement, list criteria for

eligibility, decide how to evaluate the submissions, measurement standards, and how to

petition for nomination.  A decision will be made as to the type of award to be presented

and where the ceremony might take place.  Finally, the EAC discussed the new NPDES

requirements and where the Township stands with meeting these requirements. 

Mr. Majewski stated the Township just filled out the Annual Report to the DEP stated

that the Township now has a section on the Website discussing the program and links for

more information.  There also brochures on this available in the Township offices.  They

will also be putting this information on the Cable TV channel and in the Township

Newsletter.  Mr. Majewski stated he would be willing to give the EAC an update on this.

 

Mr. Allan invited the Planning Commission to the Friends of McCaffrey function to be

held on Sunday, March 28 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  The cost is $50 for family and includes

food.  They have already sold 226 out of 600 tickets.

 

March 22, 2004                                                         Planning Commission – page 10 of 10

 

 

There being no further business, Ms. Harrison moved, Ms. Friedman seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 10:05 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                        Karen Friedman, Secretary