TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES – NOVEMBER 14, 2005

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on November 14, 2005.  Chairman Friedman called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:   Karen Friedman, Chairman

                                                Cynthia Harrison, Vice Chairman

                                                William Taylor, Secretary

                                                John Pazdera, Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                Jennifer McGrath, Township Solicitor

                                                James Majewski, Township Engineer

                                                Frank Fazzalore, Supervisor Liaison

 

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

Mr. Pazdera moved and Mr. Taylor seconded to approve the Minutes of 9/12/05 as corrected.  Motion carried with Ms. Harrison abstained.

 

Mr. Taylor moved and Ms. Harrison seconded to approve the Minutes of 9/26/05 as corrected.  Motion carried with Mr. Pazdera abstained.

 

 

#569 – SCAMMEL’S CORNER – INFORMAL SKETCH PLAN DISCUSSION

 

Mr. Michael Macaninch, Counsel for Hovnanian, was present with Mr. Michael

Stadulis.  Mr. Macaninch stated the Pennoni Plan dated 8/05 was put together after

discussions with Township staff.  He stated the staff indicated they were in favor of this

Plan versus some of the earlier Plans.  The staff indicated that they should meet with the

Planning Commission to get input and then go before the Board of Supervisors. 

Mr. Macaninch stated deforestation was a big issue for the Township and the neighbors

and this was done by their predecessors.  He noted there are two outstanding lawsuits one

which was won by the landowner which is on Appeal by the Township, and one which

was lost by the landowner which is also on Appeal.  He stated they hope to resolve the

outstanding litigation with a Plan that meets the needs of the Township, the neighbors,

and the developer.  Mr. Macaninch stated they are planning to make the historic home the

focal point of the community.  He stated some of the prior Plans submitted which did

keep the home also had a road directly behind it and did not do justice to the house itself. 

November 24, 2005                                                       Planning Commission – page 2 of 9

 

 

Mr. Stadulis stated they have with them this evening two Plans, one which was submitted

to the Township staff showing an interconnection road between University Drive parallel

to Yardley-Langhorne Road that connects to Yale Drive.  There is a cul-de-sac in the

northern part of the project and detention basins proposed at various locations shown.  He

stated the Scammel House would be preserved along with the existing tenant cottage on a

large lot.  He stated on this Plan they have seventeen new lots and retention of the

existing home.  He stated they understand that the Township was interested in

preservation of the house.  The developer wanted to make sure that they could get

someone to purchase the house and invest the money necessary to improve it.  He stated

their idea was to give the property a very significant frontage and a real presence on the

roadway and not detract from that by having any homes near it.  He added that while the

Plan shown was not their favorite approach, they felt it needed the least amount of relief. 

 

Mr. Macaninch stated they calculated the yield of the property pre-deforestation.  He

stated they felt this was seventeen plus the Scammel House versus the twenty-five if they

took the site as it exists today.  Mr. Stadulis stated they feel this Plan is consistent with

the density everyone had felt was reasonable considering the site before the trees had

been cut down.  Mr. Stadulis stated the existing cottage house and the main house would

be kept on one parcel.

 

Mr. Stadulis showed a second Plan which is their preferred approach.  In this Plan they

tried to further enhance the Estate-like appearance of the Scammel House.  They no

longer show the through road that went from University Drive to Yale Drive and instead

terminated it with a cul-de-sac.  The through road that extended to Yale Drive was

eliminated entirely and they have provided a common driveway to serve one new home

and the Scammel House.  Some of the lot lines have also been changed.  He stated this

Revised Plan results in a larger lot for the Scammel House and preserves more of the

trees.  This is their preferred Plan which they feel is more sensitive to the site.  This also

gives them an opportunity to focus on getting a buyer who will put a lot of money into

the Scammel House.   Mr. Macaninch stated this also reduces the impervious surface if

they eliminate the through road.

 

Mr. Pazdera stated they have indicated that they have been in discussions with staff, and

he asked who this included.  Mr. Macaninch stated they met with representatives of PCS

and Begley Carlin.  He stated this was also discussed in Executive Session by the

Township Solicitor since it is a legal item.  Mr. Macaninch stated he was provided a

summary as to what the Board of Supervisors discussed.  Mr. Pazdera stated they

indicated that this Plan was based on the site before the deforestation, and he asked if

they took into account where the trees were with this design.  Mr. Stadulis stated in the

Plan before the Planning Commission there is a note in the lower right corner which

discusses the natural resource protection land, and there is a line indicating the extent of

the existing woodlands on the property.   Mr. Pazdera stated he is referring to the

woodlands that were on the site in 1995 before the deforestation.  Mr. Macaninch

November 14, 2005                                                       Planning Commission – page 3 of 9

 

 

stated the property owner at the time felt he had the right to remove the woodlands.  He

stated this was litigated, and the Court found in the property owner’s favor.  Ms. McGrath

stated this is incorrect and the Court found in favor of the Township in all three cases,

and there is a Preliminary Injunction in place that prevented them from removing any

more trees as he had removed them without a Permit.  Mr. Macaninch stated his

understanding was that the property owner was upheld with regard to the initial litigation. 

Ms. McGrath disagreed. 

 

Mr. Pazdera stated he was present in 1998 at the time the deforestation occurred and he

and his colleagues vowed that when this matter came back, they wanted it based on the

way the property looked in 1995; and this is his position.  He stated he feels they need to

design the Plan based on where the trees were in 1995. 

 

Mr. Stadulis stated he feels that this was done at some point by the predecessors, meaning

they looked at the site and determined where the woodlands were before they were

cleared; and a Sketch Plan was developed that showed between sixteen and eighteen lots. 

 

 

Ms. Harrison asked who told them what it looked like at that point in time.  Mr. Stadulis

stated he understands that Bouche and James developed a plan that showed the current

woodlands and an evaluation was done which indicated what the extent of woodlands

would have been before they were cleared.

 

Mr. Pazdera stated the calculations on the Bouche and James Plan show total Resource

Protection land of 7.69 acres, and this Applicant is showing 5.2 acres.  Mr. Macaninch

stated they were not taking into account making the Scammel House a focal point.  He

stated the lot yield they have discussed with the Township has been the range they are

showing on the Plans being presented. 

 

Mr. Majewski stated one of the flaws in the calculations is that here are not accounting

for the Resource Protection lands and setbacks from the Resource Protected lands.  He

stated that to state that the new Plan is based on the woods from 1995 is not correct.  He

stated he does agree that in theory one of the calculations at some point in time indicated

they could get sixteen lots, but it did not account for the roads or detention basins which

typically brings down the lot yield. 

 

Mr. Pazdera stated he is also concerned with the location of Detention Basin B where

there are severe steep slopes.  Mr. Stadulis stated they have not done the final

engineering.  Mr. Pazdera stated he feels they should have presented a more realistic

Plan.  Mr. Pazdera asked if they have looked at a survey of the site with a topo map, and

Mr. Stadulis stated he has.  Mt. Pazdera stated he is looking at a topo and does not feel

what they are showing is realistic.  Mr. Stadulis stated they are coming before the

Planning Commission with an understanding that there was an expectation that with

November 14, 2005                                                       Planning Commission – page 4 of 9

 

 

around sixteen to eighteen lots, there was a way to make the pending litigation go away. 

Their primary idea was to indicate that if they had a Sketch Plan that had the general

arrangement being shown, showcasing the house, if this was something they could build

on and then consider the final details. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked if the litigation does not go in the favor of the Township, how would

this effect what they are looking at this evening.  Ms. McGrath stated there is already a

Preliminary Injunction that indicates that they cannot remove any more trees. 

Ms. Friedman asked if they were planning to remove any more trees, and

Mr. Macaninch stated some trees would have to be removed.  Ms. Friedman stated she is

concerned that they may be spending a lot of time on this and the Plan may not be viable

once the litigation is decided.  Mr. Macaninch stated they have been in discussions with

the Township staff about the outstanding litigation.  He stated they are not litigants in that

case, although they agree the property is.  He stated the purpose was to see if they could

resolve the litigation amicably and the Township indicated that they could and directed

them to go to the Planning Commission to get feedback.  Ms. Friedman stated heavy

deforestation has taken place and she is opposed to removing any more trees unless they

are going to replace numerous trees so that they do not have problems with flooding. 

Mr. Macaninch stated they would have a storm water management plan which would be

to the satisfaction of the Township engineer.  He stated they recognize that they will have

to engineer this including the location of the basins.  Ms. Friedman stated this could

change the lay out of the development and it may also result in less lots. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked what contingency plan they have in place if they do not find a buyer

for the large home.   Mr. Macaninch stated they have already had discussions with

several people about the house.  He stated they also plan to protect the home from further

deterioration.   He stated they recognize there will be a great amount of cost in the

restoration of the manor house, and it will not be priced the same as the new homes they

are building.  Mr. Stadulis stated they are looking for someone who would restore and

live in the house and bring it up to a condition that would not detract from their

marketing of the new homes. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked if the house has any historic protective easements, and Mr. Stadulis

stated he has had a historic preservation consultant look at the house and he indicated

there is nothing that is written down that gives it any special standing.  He has been told

that in the event that someone makes a very focused effort, it could have a National

Historic Registry.

 

Mr. Taylor stated he is concerned with the common driveway property on the second

Plan shown this evening.  Mr. Stadulis stated they could make revisions to this. 

Ms. Friedman stated the Planning Commission is not in favor of common driveways.  

 

 

November 14, 2005                                                       Planning Commission – page 5 of 9

 

 

Ms. Harrison noted Lots #16 and #17 which appears to be in a protected area, and

Mr. Macaninch stated this is a special setback.  Mr. Majewski stated there are special

setbacks along Yardley-Langhorne Road and they would need Variances for Lots #16

and #17 for the  setbacks from the resource protected areas. 

 

Ms. Friedman stated they have also requested a Variance for impervious surface going

from 27% to 33%.  Mr. Stadulis stated they are trying to look at the lot area they have

and the historic area they are trying to protect and see how they could make it work with

the type of house they want to build and then backing into the calculations. 

Ms. Friedman asked if the lots are already 6% over, what impact would this have on what

the homeowners would be able to do.  Ms. Frick stated they always give an extra 3% to

the homeowners so they would have to design a Plan for 36%.  Mr. Pazdera stated the

homeowners are not going to be able to do anything additional because they would be in

the protected area.  Mr. Majewski stated they would have 40’ from the back door which

they could use.  Ms. Frick stated a pool would have to be 10’ from the house. 

 

Mr. Pazdera stated he does not feel what has been proposed is realistic.  He asked the

location of the natural resource protection line.  Mr. Stadulis noted the first plan and

showed the area which could be protected, but noted on certain lots they would have

minimal lot sizes.  Mr. Pazdera stated he feels those lots would be unbuildable. 

 

Mr. Macaninch stated he has a letter from the Township Solicitor indicating that the

Board of Supervisors felt that this Plan was much better than what they had seen in the

past and advised them that they should go to the Planning Commission.  He stated he is

now hearing from the Planning Commission that they would like them to go back to what

the site was in 1995 and build it in accordance with the Ordinance.  Mr. Macaninch stated

if they are indicating that the proper lot yield is five, then the litigation will probably go

forward.  Mr. Pazdera stated he is in favor of saving the house, but to destroy the ground

even more than it has been already is wrong; and he will not support it. 

 

Ms. Friedman stated the Plan before them speculates that they will have a 700’ cul-de-sac

driveway as opposed to what is permitted.  She asked how this will affect lots #7, #8, and

#9.  Mr. Majewski stated if there was an accident on the road at the same time there was a

fire, they would have problems with emergency vehicle access.  He stated if they could

provide some emergency access to this area, this would be helpful.  He stated the length

proposed is not really prohibitive.  Mr. Stadulis stated there was a plan at one point

showing a road going through, but it would have impacted the historic home.   He stated

they could consider an emergency access that would be grass covered, and they could

look into this further.

 

Ms. Harrison asked if there was a way that they could develop the property but have few

lots.  She suggested that they eliminate Lots #9, #10, and #11.  Mr. Majewski stated they

could reduce the number of lots.  He stated currently the road is going through from Yale

November 14, 2005                                                       Planning Commission – page 6 of 9

 

 

Drive to University Drive and this is a lot of roadway and woodland disturbance to serve

three houses.  He stated the alternative plan with a shared driveway does save a

significant amount of woods.  He stated they wanted to put the historic house on a much

larger lot rather than shoehorn it on a 1/3 acres lot as was done previously.  Mr. Majewski

stated the plan shows they have five acres of resource protection land, but the Sketch Plan

would preserve less than that.  Mr. Stadulis agreed that there is still impact. 

 

Mr. Taylor asked about the basins on the Revised Plan.  Mr. Stadulis stated the original

Plan had three basins, but on the alternative plan they were able to eliminate one of the

basins because there was less roadway.    Mr. Stadulis stated based on the guidance they

got from a number of people, they felt that this was a Plan they could bring before the

Planning Commission.

 

Mr. Paul Krupp asked who owns the property, and Mr. Macaninch stated they are under

Agreement with Quaker but do not yet own the property.  Mr. Krupp asked if this

property needs to be re-zoned, and Mr. Macaninch stated it does not as it is Zoned R-2. 

Mr. Macaninch stated they are proposing single-family homes.  Mr. Krupp asked if they

will have each house on a half acre lot, and Mr. Macaninch stated they will be

approximately one half acre each on average.  Mr. Stadulis stated the Zoning requires a

minimum lot size of 16,000 square feet.  He stated they also have other lots on the site

which are larger than that.  Mr. Stadulis stated the Zoning for this property requires a

minimum lot size of 16,000 which is less than a half acre, but there are other lots which

are larger, and the average is one half acre. 

 

Mr. Tracy Henslip, 1075 Princeton Drive stated they never had any water problems until

the trees were cut down, and they now get significant water.  She stated when this first

happened, someone came out to do an environmental impact study as part of the litigation

and they never heard anything more.  She stated she is concerned with the impact once

the property is developed.  She stated trees are also falling down on the property which is

also making the situation worse.  She stated the trees are falling onto the adjacent

properties.  She stated they heard that the developer had also cut some of the trees so that

they would die.  Mr. Stadulis stated run off is one of the easiest issues that they address;

and by putting in the roadway, they can intercept water that may be running to these

properties.   Ms. Henslip stated she would prefer that the trees be replaced.

Ms. Friedman stated the developer is responsible for storm water management, and the

situation should improve since they will intercept the water from flowing onto the

neighbors’ properties. 

 

Ms. Diane Audett, Lafayette Drive, asked how many Variances are being requested, and

Ms. Friedman stated they are requesting four.   Ms. Audett asked if they considered the

property before the deforestation took place, how many Variances would they need; and

Mr. Majewski stated they would need at least six to seven.  Ms. Audett stated there was

also an issue with the entrance off of Princeton and the concern with getting fire trucks up

November 14, 2005                                                       Planning Commission – page 7 of 9

 

the steep grade and asked if this has been addressed.  Mr. Stadulis stated they recognize

that the area will have to be graded and this is reflected in the disturbance of steep slopes. 

Ms. Audett stated there is a house up on top of the hill.  Mr. Stadulis agreed it will

involve earth moving.  He stated they will do the grading on the developer’s property. 

Ms. Audett stated she also has a problem with drainage, and her back yard becomes a

creek since the deforestation. 

 

Mr. Mike Tuturo, Lafayette Drive, noted there are ruins toward the front of the site and

asked their plans for this area.  Mr. Stadulis noted the location of the ruins and stated the

ruins will need to be removed in order to construct a new home at that location.  He

stated they will maintain the large tenant cottage as part of the parcel which includes the

main house.  Mr. Tuturo stated he agrees with the planning Commission that the Plan

shown does not take into account the natural resources and feels that they should not go

in with the idea of having the maximum lots and suggested that they consider five homes

which would be more in keeping with the historic home.  Mr. Stadulis stated this relates

to way the property is being marketed by the current owner who believes that there is a

right to develop it in a certain way.  Mr. Stadulis stated they are trying to find a meeting

point between his expectations and what the Township is comfortable with.  Mr. Stadulis

stated they feel they can develop a fine neighborhood which will have the historic home

as the centerpiece. 

 

Ms. Wendy Kukoski, Afton Avenue, asked the impact to Afton Avenue.  She noted they

have wells and asked whether there will be an impact on their wells.  She also asked

about sidewalks.  Mr. Stadulis stated they have not considered sidewalks at this time.

They have acknowledged the fact that the water is running downhill and there are no

storm sewers immediately adjacent to the property.  They feel some off-site storm sewer

extension will be needed to get to the Yardley storm sewers. This will impact how they

design their storm sewer system.  Ms. Kukoski asked if they can put additional houses on

the lot where the historic home is located; and Mr. Stadulis stated if required, they could

deed restrict the lot.

 

Ms. Grace McDade, Yale Drive, asked the size of home they are proposing, and

Mr. Stadulis stated they will be 60’ to 75’ wide with side entry garages.  They would

average 4,800 square feet.  He stated the homes can be seen on their Website and would

be similar to the Villages of Northampton.  Ms. McDade stated their home is on one lot

and they have a 2,800 square foot home.  One gentleman stated he feels the homes they

are proposing will overwhelm the lot.

 

Ms. Christy Lazerino, Lafayette Drive, asked how close the new homes will be to the

existing homes, and asked if there will be a buffer.  Mr. Stadulis stated no buffer is

proposed except for the area of the detention basin.  The rear yard setback will be 40’. 

Ms. Lazerino asked if trees will be left, and Mr. Stadulis showed the alternative Sketch

Plan which shows where trees will be proposed.  He stated they are trying to save as

many trees as they can. 

November 14, 2005                                                       Planning Commission – page 8 of 9

 

 

Mr. Larry Lazerino asked how many acres will be provided for the Scammel’s house, and

Mr. Stadulis stated on the Alternative Plan they shows approximately two acres.

 

Ms. Wassum, Princeton Drive, asked who owns the property, and it was noted it is owned

by the Quaker Group.  Ms. Wassum stated she has bills that need to be reimbursed and

would like to send them to the owner.   Ms. Wassum asked the status of the litigation.

Mr. Macaninch stated while he is not a Party, he understands that the litigation is in

hiatus at this time as they were hoping that there be some kind of resolution.  If this is not

possible either the Township or the Quaker Group would push the litigation to go

forward.  Ms. Frick asked how long they have had the property under Agreement of Sale,

and Mr. Macaninch stated it is approximately two years. 

 

Ms. Tracy Henslip asked the location of the detention basins on the alternative Plan. 

Mr. Stadulis stated they know they need detention basins although they are not sure that

they will ultimately be at the location shown on this Plan.  Ms. Henslip asked where the

detention basins drain to, and Mr. Stadulis stated a system of pipes will be put in the road

and they will discharge down University and Lehigh and go down Afton and get into a

system off site.  Mr. Stadulis stated he expects that the Township engineer will

recommend storm sewer inlets.  Ms. Henslip asked how this will impact the homes on

Princeton Drive.  Ms. Friedman stated stormwater management will be taken up in much

greater detail if they proceed with the Plans.  She stated this will have to be engineered

and water will be moved away from the existing properties to areas where it will not

impact existing homes.  She stated this will come up again once a more detailed Plan is

presented.

 

Ms. McDade stated she understands that they can bring in sketches but eventually they do

not necessarily follow what the Sketch shows.  Mr. Macaninch stated assuming they can

resolve the litigation, there would be a Stipulation which would have certain

requirements.  They would then go through the Land Development process and the

developer would be required to build what is approved by the Township.  He stated at

this point, they are only at the Sketch Plan stage.

 

Ms. Friedman stated no vote will be taken and she is hesitant to go any further until they

have a better idea as to the legal issues.  Mr. Macaninch stated he feels the next step is for

the developer to go before the Board of Supervisors.  Ms. Harrison stated she would like

them to reduce the density of the property and stay away as much as possible from the

sensitive areas and to address run off and drainage.  Mr. Taylor stated he would support

Mr. Pazdera’s position about reforestation. 

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2005                                                       Planning Commission – page 9 of 9

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Ms. Friedman stated the Environmental Advisory Council discussed their fall lecture series.  She stated a lecture was held on October 16 regarding flooding, and there were

approximately sixty people in attendance.  She stated the next lecture is to be held on

November 30 on hybrid automobiles and other efficiency topics.

 

 

There being no further business, Mr. Taylor moved, Ms. Harrison seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 8:50 p.m.

 

                                                            Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                            William Taylor, Secretary