TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES – JUNE 26, 2006

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on June 26, 2006.  Chairman Pazdera called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:   John Pazdera, Chairman

                                                Tony Bush, Secretary

                                                Richard Cylinder, Member

                                                Karen Friedman, Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                John Donaghy, Township Solicitor

                                                James Majewski, Township Engineer

                                                Ron Smith, Supervisor Liaison

 

Absent:                         Dean Dickson, Planning Commission Vice Chair

 

 

DISCUSSION AND MOTION TO TABLE PROPOSED ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 200, ARTICLE VII GENERAL BUSINESS/INDUSTRIAL (C-3) REGARDING ZONING REGULATIONS RELATED TO THE SALE AND STORAGE OF FIREWORKS AND PERMITTING SUCH USES IN THE C-3 INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT

 

Mr. Donaghy stated a few years ago the Commonwealth amended its Statute regarding

fireworks to permit the retail sale of certain kinds of consumer and display fireworks, but

only to out-of-State customers.  He stated there are currently some such facilities in

Morrisville, Falls Township, and other communities along the Delaware River.  The Board felt they needed to regulate this use, and there is a proposed Ordinance which incorporates some of the definitions from the Statute.  The proposal is to permit retail and wholesale sale and storage of consumer fireworks and display fireworks but to limit that sale and storage including where they can be located, distances from certain type of uses, and some limits on the amount of certain types of fireworks which can be stored on site.  It also requires that the facilities be operated by people who are experienced and competent in that area, and to provide bonding for the facility.  In order to obtain such a usage, it will require a Conditional Use which will require that any Application be submitted to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

 

 

 

June 26, 2006                                                              Planning Commission – page 2 of 15

 

 

Ms. Friedman noted the third page regarding “competent operators,” and asked how they

are judging who is “competent.”  Mr. Donaghy stated this was one of the issues

questioned initially by the Bucks County Planning Commission; and now included in the

proposed Ordinance is a requirement that they have to establish certain “business

practices and financial stability” so that the Board of Supervisors, or its designee, will

indicate that the person operating this facility is experienced in doing so in a

responsible and safe manner.  Mr. Donaghy stated the Planning Commission may want to

recommend that they tighten this up as to the type of information required.  Mr. Donaghy

noted on the last page under H, paragraph 47 it also shows that they have to provide

certain things including a bond.  Ms. Friedman suggested that they include in this area

something defining the type of proof the Township would require, and Mr. Donaghy

stated he feels it would be appropriate for the Planning Commission to recommend that

the Township adopt a specific Application Form with specific criteria.  Ms. Friedman

stated she is also concerned that the individual coming in for the Application may then

permit someone else to run the operation who may not be as competent.  Mr. Donaghy

stated to a certain extent this can always happen and this is one of the reasons why the

bonding is required. 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked about the $1 million bond and asked how it is collected. 

Mr. Donaghy stated it is not $1 million – it is bonding.  He stated the criteria would be if

any damages occur as a result of this operation, there is security that they will be able to

compensate.  Mr. Donaghy stated the Statute does permit the requirement of a bond. 

Mr. Cylinder asked if anyone is challenging the Statute, and Mr. Donaghy stated he is not

aware of anyone challenging this although he knows that the New Jersey Attorney General is not happy about this situation and filed a lawsuit.

 

Mr. Smith noted Section H after the word “bond” and asked if it is understood that the

Township would be named as the insured.  Mr. Donaghy stated he does have a note that

this must be clarified, and the Bond must be issued on behalf of the Township. Mr. Smith

stated it does not indicate who the Application would be submitted to, and he assumes it

would be Ms. Frick’s Department.  Mr. Donaghy stated it is set up so that the Board of

Supervisors can designate who would be responsible to review this.  Mr. Smith asked if

“business practices” encompasses both past and present and asked how far they can go

back.  Mr. Donaghy stated this would have to be part of the criteria to be established. 

Mr. Donaghy stated the Applicants will have to go to the Board of Supervisors because

they will have to apply for a Conditional Use.  He stated Item 47 will be the criteria for

Conditional Use.  Mr. Smith asked if it should go to the Zoning Hearing Board, and

Ms. Frick stated it would have to go as a Special Exception; but this would take the

control away from the Board of Supervisors.

 

Mr. Bush asked if the Pennsylvania Statute sets an amount for the bond and asked if there

is a maximum amount or could it be more than $1 million.  Mr. Donaghy stated the

Pennsylvania Statute states “not less than $500.”  Mr. Smith stated he questions if it

June 26, 2006                                                              Planning Commission – page 3 of 15

 

 

would be possible to get a Bond for greater than $1 million and asked who would be able

to get such a Bond and would this be making it so prohibitive that the Township

Ordinance is then considered arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.  Mr. Bush asked if

there is a number that this could be increased to that would not make it prohibitive, so

that it would ensure that if damage were caused, it would be sufficient to take care of the

damage.  Mr. Donaghy stated he is not sure what that number would be.  Mr. Donaghy

stated because the Statute says it should be not less than $500, going much higher than

what is proposed you would have to justify why it is so much higher than the minimum. 

Mr. Smith stated besides the bonding, he feels they should also be required to come in

with evidence of insurance noting that it is possible someone could be killed. 

Mr. Donaghy stated there are no requirements in the Ordinance for insurance; although

he is aware that when the Township issues permits for blasting, the Township requires

insurance in that regard.  Mr. Bush asked if the State Statute requires that License holders

have insurance, and Mr. Donaghy stated it does not but that does not mean that they

could not legitimately include this requirement.  Mr. Smith stated most commercial

companies carry $1 million minimum insurance along with an umbrella policy of

substantially more.  Mr. Donaghy re-read the Statute and noted the Statute does require

that they have at least $2 million in public and product liability insurance.

 

Mr. Bush asked if this Ordinance was modeled after the Morrisville Ordinance, but

Mr. Donaghy was not sure.  Mr. Bush stated currently there are four to five tents in

Morrisville selling fireworks, and he asked if this Ordinance would protect the Township

from these types of facilities.  Mr. Donaghy stated the proposed Lower Makefield

Ordinance does not permit temporary facilities such as tents, travel trailers, etc. 

Mr. Smith asked that they be provided with a copy of the Morrisville Ordinance to

compare it to what Lower Makefield is proposing to see if there are loopholes which

permitted the “tent type” of facility that is currently in Morrisville.

 

Ms. Friedman stated she is still concerned that the Township is not protected enough and

asked if they could state that the operator will assume all responsibility in the event of

loss of property, life, etc.  Mr. Smith stated this may be part of the insurance criteria

where the Township may need to be named as an additional insured but also a duty of

indemnification, a hold harmless agreement to protect the Township, as well as duty to

defend where the insurance company will come in and take over defense of the Township

which would be a savings to the Township.  Mr. Donaghy stated he did not feel it would

be appropriate to put that in the Ordinance as this becomes a question of negligence and

liability and it may be controlled by the Statute or Common Law. 

 

Ms. Friedman stated she understands it is illegal to sell these to Pennsylvania residents. 

Mr. Donaghy stated this is correct and is included in the Statute.  Ms. Friedman asked

how this is overseen to insure that this is not taking place.  Mr. Donaghy stated the State

 

 

June 26, 2006                                                              Planning Commission – page 4 of 15

 

 

could enforce this; and if they are not acting in accordance with the provisions of the

Pennsylvania Act, it could be a violation of the Zoning Ordinance.  He feels the

enforcement will come from the State.

 

Mr. Smith asked if there is anything in the Statute that involves how much fireworks they

can store and sell; and if not, could this be put in the Ordinance.  Mr. Donaghy stated

there are some limitations as to the type of fireworks.  He stated the State Statute does

state that it can be a stand-alone building no larger than 12,000 square feet. 

Ms. Friedman asked if they could require that this be a smaller building.  Mr. Cylinder

asked if there could be a limitation as to how close they could be to each other since if

there were four of them in a row, it could be as dangerous as having one large facility. 

Mr. Donaghy stated the Ordinance provides that they must be 1,000 feet away from any

premises with flammable products which could be another fireworks location.  He stated

the Statute states that the facility shall be at least 250’ from any other facility licensed to

sell consumer fireworks.  Mr. Donaghy stated they will have to comply with the State

Statute as well as the Township Ordinance.  Mr. Cylinder asked if the Township can

exceed the 250’ requirement, and Mr. Donaghy stated there is no specific provision that

states that you can or cannot exceed this; and you could make it further away if there is a

legitimate reason, as long as it does not interfere with their ability to sell the fireworks. 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked to what extent would the provisions of the Municipalities Planning

Code apply to this.  He stated they are grafting an Ordinance into the Zoning Ordinance

that is based on a different set of legislation.  Mr. Donaghy stated if there is legitimate

use that is permitted under State law and the Township does not permit it anywhere in the

Municipality, a Court will then say that they can put that use anywhere in the

Municipality.

 

Mr. Smith stated he assumes this will come to the Zoning and Planning Department, but

Ms. Frick stated she is not sure as there are some licensing items she does not handle

such as the trash haulers.  She feels the Township will decide who will regulate this. 

Mr. Donaghy stated he feels most of these issues are Zoning issues; but for many of these

that have to do with the original approval process such as whether or not they are

competent and whether or not they meet the requirements, the Board of Supervisors may

designate that someone else would handle this such as the Fire Marshall.  He feels once

the Application is approved and the operation is up and running, it will be like any other

use and will be under the Zoning and Planning Office.

 

Mr. Smith asked if someone comes into the Township to do work and they have a history

of poor performance, etc. does the Zoning and Planning Office continue to issue them

Permits; and Ms. Frick stated as long as they build in accordance with the Codes, they do

have to issue them a Permit according to the Township Solicitor.  Ms. Frick stated she

can suggest that they contact the Better Business Bureau to check on the contractor, etc. 

 

June 26, 2006                                                              Planning Commission – page 5 of 15

 

 

Mr. Donaghy agreed that as long as they are staying within the applicable Ordinances, the

Township does have to issue the permits. 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if there is any provision in the Statute as to time limitations for the

permit or license, and Mr. Donaghy stated there is not.  Mr. Cylinder asked if they could

pass something that is outside the purview of the Zoning Ordinance which is a separate

piece of legislation which allows that permits be issued for six months or only certain

times during the year.  Ms. Frick questioned if they were not permitted in temporary

structures, how would they be able to lease a facility for only six months.  Ms. Friedman

stated since this is a dangerous substance, possibly something could be written in the

Ordinance that this is subject to review on an annual basis.  Mr. Smith stated once they

have come into the Township and qualified as a competent operator, he questions

whether they are then deemed competent forever, or should it be reviewed on an annual

basis which he feels would be appropriate.  Ms. Friedman stated the operator could

change the inventory and bring in something illegal if they knew they were not being

reviewed.  Mr. Donaghy stated this would be similar to a violation by any other use.

Mr. Donaghy stated the problem is that if the Township does not put something on the

books, they could then come in and put this in any location in the Township. 

 

Mr. Bush asked if the bond required by the Statute is renewable annually, and

Mr. Donaghy stated he feels it would have to be since most bonds are for a limited period

of time.  Ms. Frick stated the insurance would have to be updated as well.         Mr. Donaghy

stated they could look into whether the State has been checking up on the sales in

Morrisville.  He stated he feels that the State is checking on this since it is not a popular

situation. 

 

Ms. Frick noted this Ordinance also allows this use in the C-3 District only subject to

Conditional Use.  She noted as a formality for the Conditional Use, the Planning

Commission does have the opportunity to review it and they could provide input to the

Board of Supervisors.

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if Mr. Donaghy had the opportunity to review the memo that he

wrote, and Mr. Donaghy stated he did not see this.  Mr. Cylinder provided this to

Mr. Donaghy this evening.

 

Ms. Frick stated she understands that the Board of Supervisors will be acting on this on

July 19, 2006 so the Planning Commission should make a recommendation this evening

as they will not meet again until July 24, 2006. 

 

Mr. Donaghy noted a question raised in Mr. Cylinder’s letter regarding the minimum

distance, and stated this was an issue that the Bucks County Planning Commission did

raise in their initial review and this was discussed with the Police chief and they felt that

there were areas which would meet the criteria so this use was not being excluded.

June 26, 2006                                                              Planning Commission – page 6 of 15

 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if there would be a possibility that someone who already had a permit

for an operation could be excluded from using that location if a subsequent use came in

which would then make it illegal due to the distance requirements, and Mr. Donaghy

stated arguably it might; but since the change did not occur due to a change in the Zoning

Ordinance, he feels they could not interfere with the fireworks operation.  Mr. Cylinder

stated if they were non-conforming, it would limit their ability to expand.  Mr. Donaghy

stated normally if there is a non-conformity situation, it is because there has been a

change in the Zoning Ordinance itself which alters the validity of the use and not a

change in the circumstances in the neighborhood.

 

Mr. Donaghy stated he has noted the Planning Commissions concerns including the

standards for a competent operator and who would review this, the amount of the bond

and its renewal as well as insuring it is clearly in favor of the Township, clarify the

insurance that although it is required by the Statute it should also be submitted to the

Township, and consider whether or not they can look at issues on limitations as to size

and amount of storage.  He stated Mr. Cylinder has also raised questions about the issue

of Parks and whether this should also include Schools and places of worship, etc. 

 

Ms. Frick asked if the State actually issues a Permit and asked how the Township would

know who complies with the State Statutes.  Mr. Donaghy stated it requires that

“consumer fireworks shall be sold only from facilities that are licensed by the

Department of Agriculture and meet the following criteria….” 

 

Ms. Frick asked if she could have a copy of the Statute, and Mr. Donaghy agreed to

provide this.  Mr. Donaghy stated one of the conditions in the Ordinance should be that

they would have to submit evidence of State Licensure. 

 

Ms. Frick asked if other Townships in the area working on a similar Ordinance, and

Mr. Donaghy stated while he does not know, he feels only those along the River may be

doing so.

 

Ms. Friedman asked why they are rushing through this with the Supervisors voting on

this on July 19, yet the Planning Commission does not have a final copy in order to make

a recommendation.  Mr. Smith stated he feels they are asking the Township Solicitor to

come up with a modified Ordinance taking into effect the discussion this evening.  He

added that he feels as of July 4, the problem will go away for ten months.  He stated he

feels this matter should come back before the Planning Commission so that they can

review it again.  He stated the Board of Supervisors could table it when it comes before

them in July.  He stated he feels the problem will be solved by July 5.  Ms. Friedman

stated she understands there is no place at the current time where such an activity could

be set up since nothing is currently available in the C-3 Zone.  Mr. Donaghy stated he

feels the original concern was because of July 4. 

 

June 26, 2006                                                              Planning Commission – page 7 of 15

 

 

Mr. Bush stated if they do not do something tonight and the Board of Supervisors does

not act on July 19, someone could then come in and open something up over which the

Township would have no control.  Mr. Donaghy stated the Ordinance has been advertised

and is therefore a pending Ordinance provided nothing substantial is changed.  Mr. Smith

stated they could still modify the pending Ordinance provided it is a reasonable

modification.    Mr. Donaghy stated he feels the modifications suggested this evening

would not change the substance of the Ordinance.   

 

Ms. Friedman asked if a fireworks operation could be brought into the Township at any

location at the current time; and Mr. Donaghy stated if the Ordinance had not been

advertised, arguable you could bring in such an operation as they could take the position

that there is a de-facto exclusion of a legitimate use.  He stated since this is a pending

Ordinance, the Planning Commission does have time to review a more finalized copy

prior to making a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors provided it is not a major,

substitutive change. 

 

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

to the Board of Supervisors that they table this matter until their first meeting in August

to allow the Planning Commission the opportunity to review the matter at their meeting

on July 24 at which time they will make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

 

 

DISCUSS PROPOSED LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE

 

Mr. Bucky Closser was present with Mr. Jim Bray.  Mr. Bray stated on June 12 they had

their initial discussion with the Planning Commission on the Low Impact Development

Ordinance.  He stated that session was primarily informative and included the power

point presentation by Mr. Majewski summarizing the main features of the Ordinance. 

This evening they would like to get into more of the specifics of the Ordinance. 

 

Ms. Friedman stated she made her comments at the last meeting.  Mr. Bray stated both of

Ms. Friedman’s comments made at the last meeting will be incorporated into the

Ordinance.

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if the Environmental Advisory Council received his comments, and

Ms. Frick stated these comments were e-mailed to Mr. Pazdera, so she did not provide

them to anyone.  Mr. Bray was provided a copy of Mr. Cylinder’s comments this

evening. 

 

Mr. Cylinder stated he discussed this matter with Ms. Frick previously and asked if the

Planning Commission had a policy on this noting he had put out two memos and had

hoped that the Planning Commission and whoever else was involved would have had an

opportunity to read whatever anyone from the Planning Commission would write before

June 26, 2006                                                              Planning Commission – page 8 of 15

 

the meeting.  He stated there seemed to be some question as to whether this sort of thing

should be done.  He stated he does not feel it is fair to get something at a meeting and be

expected to read it and comment on it at the meeting when there was an opportunity to

see it beforehand.    Mr. Pazdera stated this would involve another layer of paper they

would have to put onto Ms. Frick which could become overwhelming.  Mr. Cylinder

stated he would be willing to send out information by e-mail, but the question was

whether or not they should send out their thoughts beforehand.  Mr. Pazdera stated he

feels this is fine but feels the e-mail route would be preferable if they wanted to send

something to the other Planning Commission members prior to the meeting. 

 

Ms. Frick stated in the past the Planning Commission would discuss items as a group and

pass on their recommendation; but if they wish to change this and individuals send out

information on their own, this would be up to the Planning Commission.

 

Mr. Donaghy stated he does not have a problem with individual comments being

provided to himself, Ms. Frick, the Township engineer, or other members of the Planning

Commission, but he does not feel comments by Mr. Cylinder should be forwarded to

another group as they may then be taken to be the comments of the entire Planning

Commission which may not be the case.   He added that once they have the meeting, the

Planning Commission as a whole may agree that Mr. Cylinder’s comments could be

provided to another group.

 

Mr. Bray stated he now has Mr. Cylinder’s comments and his group will be meeting this

week and consider everything they have heard and decide what should be included.  This

will then go back out as a finished copy to the Planning Commission on which they could

still comment.

 

Mr. Cylinder stated his main concern was with certain omissions in the Subdivision and

Land Development Ordinance and to a lesser extent – Zoning.   He stated he also feels as

much as possible, the control should be in the Subdivision and Land Development

Ordinance rather than Zoning since Zoning is a much more rigid approach.  He stated

they are discussing conditions for development more than for use, intensity, or

dimensional requirements which are more commonly found in the Zoning Ordinance than

in the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.  He stated he feels the interest is to

keep it under the control of the Supervisors ;and by putting in a lot of Zoning provisions

which may require Variances, it has two different bodies handling the same case and to

minimize this, he feels they should have as many of these kinds of controls within the

Subdivision Ordinance as opposed to Zoning so there is more flexibility involved.

 

Mr. Cylinder stated any Ordinance only guarantees you might get mediocre development. 

He stated it keeps out the very worse and often keeps out very well-designed kinds of

projects.  He stated by allowing flexibility and providing the proper guidance within the

Subdivision Ordinance, he feels they will have a better chance of getting higher quality

development than by controlling it through Zoning any more than is necessary.

June 26, 2006                                                              Planning Commission – page 9 of 15

 

 

Mr. Cylinder stated he feels they should require professional qualifications.  He stated

Subdivision Ordinances usually talk about a professional engineer but especially in the

two big developments that will be coming into the Township – Matrix and Edgewood,

they should have the services of landscape architects, urban planners, etc. and at each

stage the Township should have reference to their use. 

 

Mr. Cylinder stated with regard to the continuing operation of the facilities, if there is a

subdivision of 100 lots and there are a number of facilities all over the lots, it may be a

considerable problem in controlling over a long period of time these drainage facilities

where they are pervious surfaces swales, etc.; and they need to be under some kind of

deed restriction, liens being required, etc.  Mr. Cylinder stated he is not sure to what

extent the Township would want to get into this kind of control when there is multiple

ownership and they should give this a lot of consideration.

 

Mr. Bray noted with regard to the professional qualifications, they have addressed this,

but they will look into it again.  He stated the Native Plant Ordinance that will be

following this does require the use of registered landscape architects or Pennsylvania

Certified Horticulturists.  He noted while this does not always assure top-quality work, it

is a step in that direction.  Mr. Majewski stated the Subdivision and Land Development

Ordinance already has a requirement that all Plans must be signed by a PE surveyor or

geologist in accordance with the Registration Law; and if anyone else is involved in the

preparation of the Plan, they also need to sign the Plans.  He stated this requirement has

been in place for a number of years.  Mr. Cylinder stated when there is a development

that requires the kind of detailed study and examination that Matrix and Edgewood will,

it should be a requirement that landscape architects and architects be part of this and not

an option on the part of the developer.  Mr. Majewski stated he does not feel they are

authorized by the MPC to enforce this, and Mr. Donaghy agreed.

 

Mr. Cylinder stated the Sketch Plan itself is not part of the Pennsylvania MPC, and the

Township cannot require this either; however based on what they have included in the

Ordinance, it indicated it is a good idea to have a Sketch Plan to get a consensus as to

what direction you are going to go before real money is spent on engineering and

architecture. 

 

Mr. Bray again stated they will review Mr. Cylinder’s comments at their meeting this week, and he is sure many of them will be incorporated.

 

Mr. Pazdera noted the Zoning Ordinance, under Section 11, 5(a), page 9 where they

classify steep slopes as 8% or more, but less than 15% but when they get to C (1) it is

written to include 15%.  He stated this is also true on Item (2) on Page 10 where they

show greater than 15% to 25% under Class II.  Mr. Pazdera also noted page 10 under the

Application procedure.  He stated in Zoning they are calling it an “ERSAP” but in the

SALDO, they are calling it an “ERSAM.”  Mr. Bray agreed to correct this.

June 25, 2006                                                            Planning Commission – page 10 of 15

 

 

Mr. Cylinder stated if someone comes in to develop a site, and they cannot develop any

part of it because of all these requirements possibly there should be some kind of relief so

that the person could not charge that the land was made totally useless.  Mr. Donaghy

stated this is why they would have the procedure for a Variance.  Mr. Cylinder stated if

they go for a Variance, this would have to go to the Zoning Hearing Board.  He stated

possibly something could be put in this to allow the Board of Supervisors to make the

judgment.  Mr. Donaghy stated he questions what they could put in unless they stated

notwithstanding any other limitations in the Ordinance, you could always build one

house.  Ms. Friedman stated this would be very specific to each development, and this is

why they would go to the Zoning Hearing Board for a Variance because it is site specific.    

Mr. Donaghy stated if there is a lot that is within the floodplain, there are provisions to

seek relief by Variance.  He stated the Municipality cannot deprive a person the use of his

or her land unless there is a legitimate reason such as it being all wetlands which would

adversely effect the community if the Township were to allow development.

Mr. Majewski stated for the steep slope portion of the Ordinance, since they increased the

scope of this, they provided relief by allowing a Conditional Use procedure; and this

would be controlled by the Board of Supervisors. 

 

Mr. Bush stated during the last meeting it was mentioned that these Ordinances were

modeled after similar Ordinances, and he asked if these Ordinance have been challenged. 

Mr. Closser stated he has just started researching this particularly those in Maryland and

in the State of Washington.  He stated this would be relevant to each State’s laws. 

Mr. Majewski stated he does not feel this Ordinance restricts development necessarily,

although they have tightened up some of the environmental pieces; but at the same time

they are providing extra flexibility as well.  Mr. Majewski stated utilizing the Best

Management Practices does not really take away land from development.  He stated in

some ways, they are helping the developers.  Mr. Bray stated he has discussed this with

some people in Maryland, and the general comments were that they were not having any

legal issues at this stage.

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if they have had problems in presenting the information to the public

in a way that the public can understand.  Mr. Cylinder suggested that they submit

information in a form that the people can understand such as in booklet form.  He asked

how other people have done this.  Mr. Bray stated they have several of these booklets

dealing with water quality issues that were put out by Maryland.  He stated they do

discuss some LIP techniques and what the public can do to make the water quality better. 

Mr. Cylinder stated what he was discussing was what was the developer was required to

submit as far as his property is concerned to show the public what he is doing.  He stated

if the developers come in with engineered blueprints with overlays, he questions whether

the public, Planning Commissions, and Supervisors will know what they are being asked

to approve.  Mr. Bray stated while the public may not understand everything, the

Township has retained some excellent people including environmental engineers and the

Township engineers; and it will be their function to review these and give advice. 

June 26, 2006                                                            Planning Commission – page 11 of 15

 

 

Mr. Majewski stated the structure of the Environmental Impact Assessment does allow

for a lot of language that the public could understand.  Mr. Cylinder stated he feels when

the developers submit plans that show the development, the public wants to know why

they are showing the piece of land being used the way it is being used.  Mr. Cylinder

stated he feels they should show the areas which are precluded from development and

why such as steep slopes, wooded, flooded, etc. and those could not be built upon.  He

stated the general public should be able to understand what a developer is proposing. 

Mr. Majewski stated they do have to submit it in a form that is acceptable to the

Township adding the Ordinance required both written information and maps showing the

resources.

 

Mr. Donaghy stated the pubic is permitted to attend meetings and ask questions.

Mr. Cylinder stated he feels it is very difficult for the general public to understand.

He feels people have the right to have a reasonable opportunity to understand what is

being proposed and not later when it is under construction seeing something they do not

like.  Mr. Majewski stated the Ordinance outlines what is required to be shown; and with

an adequate legend on the Plan, most people should be able to understand it.

Mr. Donaghy stated the engineer preparing the Plan must meet the requirements and

satisfy the Township engineer.

 

Ms. Frick stated if anyone has questions, they can put them in writing and their questions

are directed to the appropriate individual to respond to those questions.    Mr. Donaghy

stated if they are at a meeting and voice their concerns, they also ask the developer to

meet with the residents to try to resolve the issues.  Mr. Bray stated they are now

requesting an environmental  impact study on all major subdivisions, and this has a great

deal of detailed information and is open to public scrutiny.  He stated he feels most

people will be able to understand most of it.  Mr. Cylinder asked for a sample of this, and

Mr. Bray stated it is Exhibit 6 which has been provided and is ten to fifteen pages of

information which is required from the developer before construction takes place. 

 

Mr. Bush stated he feels what Mr. Cylinder is referring to is something that took place in

the law thirty years ago when there was an effort to have Statutes written in more plain

English than they had been previously. He noted particularly the first time the Matrix

project came through the Planning Commission, he does not feel the public was that well

informed as to what was taking place and whether the public really understood what was

happening until it was halfway through the process; and this created a problem.  He stated

the public was subsequently able to stop the project.   He stated it seems that what has

been put together will address that and hopefully the format as noted in Exhibit 6 will

require a builder to come in and do what Mr. Cylinder is looking for although there may

need to be more clarity on that issue. 

 

Mr. Smith asked if a developer or re-developer coming into the Township will be able to

work with these documents or have they made it so restrictive or overwhelming that they

June 26, 2006                                                            Planning Commission – page 12 of 15

 

 

will not put projects in Lower Makefield.  Mr. Bray stated he is not sure what the

developers will do, but their aim is not to preclude development but to invite responsible

development. 

 

Mr. Majewski stated they are also trying to increase the notification to surrounding

property owners and have more of the public involved before the project proceeds too far

along. 

 

Mr. Alan Dresser of the EAC noted page 11 of the Subdivision and Land Development

Ordinance regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment and asked why this was in

Article 8 which is for Minor Subdivisions and not Article 6 which is for Major

Developments.  Mr. Majewski agreed it should be under Article 6 and will make this

change.  Mr. Dresser also stated he is in favor of controlling development but questions

the requirement for doing the EIA for three to four lots.  He stated he feels they may get

complaints about this because of all the detail that is required, and he is concerned about

being too aggressive.  Mr. Majewski stated the Planning Commission  and the EAC could

decide this requirement should be increased to more than three lots; although he noted

that since it is in the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance, if anyone feels some

of the requirements are onerous, they could ask for a Waiver.  Ms. Friedman stated that

since there is a limited area left to build, it is possible that three homes could make a

significant impact in a development noting that there have been more problems with

stormwater management with the land that is left because of what has been developed

previously.  She suggested keeping it in as proposed, and if necessary, they could request

a Waiver.  Mr. Majewski stated they did discuss this and the result was to leave it as

shown recognizing that the developer could request a Waiver or modification as they can

for many other SALDO provisions which are considered on a case-by-case basis.

 

Mr. Joe Sundeen stated since there is very little land left to develop, he did make a

comment to Mr. Bray and Mr. Closser about including re-development since the

Township infrastructure is aging; and he feels there will be a lot of re-development of

sidewalks, driveways, etc.  He asked if it would be appropriate to either try to put

something into this Ordinance or some other Ordinance to address this in the future.  He

noted the possibility that a homeowner who needs to replace his asphalt driveway could

use some other pervious surface such as pavers which could help improve the situation,

and asked if there was some way they could encourage this.   Mr. Donaghy stated the

problem would be people would be applying for improvements to only one lot; and if

they have already been approved for a certain amount of impervious surface, it would be

difficult to tell them they have to reduce it.  He stated possibly they could give them some

benefit if they were to use certain type of pavers and permit them to have a larger

driveway, etc.

 

 

 

June 26, 2006                                                            Planning Commission – page 13 of 15

 

 

Mr. Cylinder stated a number of people come in for swimming pools who do not meet the

impervious surface requirements, and he asked if there could be a trade off. Mr. Donaghy

stated the Zoning Hearing Board does this all the time and Applicants are required to

remove a certain amount of impervious surface in order to get their Appeal approved. 

 

Mr. Sundeen stated his hope was whether there could be some incentive such as a tax

incentive, etc. for decreasing the impervious surface.  Ms. Friedman stated while this is a

valid point, she feels this starts with educating the public which Mr. Bray has begun with

the seminars he has been running.  She stated she is hopeful that the residents will

become more enthusiastic about this and be interested in participating in this voluntarily. 

Mr. Sundeen stated while some people may do this voluntarily, he feels at some point the

legislative bodies need to lead people into doing this.  Mr. Smith asked Mr. Sundeen

asked if he could prepare something to help educate the people so that if they went on-

line they could see recommended alternatives for what has traditionally been used in the

past. 

 

Ms. Frick stated while these alternatives are desirable, it must be know to subsequent

owners that they could  not then pave over the alternative material which had been used. 

She stated it must be maintained to remain pervious; and if it is not maintained properly,

it causes a number of other problems.  She stated keeping control of this on a house-by-

house basis is a monumental task. 

 

Ms. Friedman stated she feels it is easier to enforce this with developers as the Township

has control over the developers since they must go through a rigorous process through the

Township planning process.  She stated the way it should be done with individuals is to

bring it to the attention of the homeowners through education so that they can be excited

about it.  Ms. Frick stated she agrees that educating the people is the key.  She stated

when the public comes to the Township initially, they are very unhappy when they are

advised that they cannot proceed with a project because of impervious surface

requirements; but when the issue is explained to them, most of them understand the

problems associated with additional impervious surface.  Ms. Friedman stated she feels

they could prepare some literature about the benefits of pervious materials. 

 

Mr. Smith stated he feels it would be good for the EAC to prepare something for a future

Township Newsletter on what could be beneficial in this regard to the individual

homeowners and the Township as a whole.  Ms. Friedman stated they could also provide

such information for the Yardley News to publish. 

 

Mr. Cylinder stated he felt at the presentation at the last meeting, there was discussion

about narrowing down the cartways on public streets.  He stated the Township could do

this whenever they repave which would also save money for the Township in the future. 

He stated they could create a wider grass strip between the sidewalk and the cartway. 

Mr. Majewski stated the problem is the up-front costs of converting this. 

June 26, 2006                                                            Planning Commission – page 14 of 15

 

 

Mr. Bray stated the EAC is going to look at re-development in the future particularly with

respect to education and providing information for the Township Website and the Cable

Channel. 

 

Mr. Smith stated at the last Board of Supervisors meeting they indicated that there will be

the need for a Special Meeting on this matter.  He feels this will be in September and

asked if this is sufficient time for the group to have the information ready.  Mr. Bray

stated he does not feel they will need this much time.  Mr. Smith stated if they need to

push it, they could do it at an August meeting but noted there are many people who are

away at that time and they would like to present this to the widest possible audience. 

Mr. Bray stated they will do what the Board of Supervisors directs them to do.  He stated

the initial charge was to have a rough draft by the end of May and make their

presentation sometime in August or September so this would fit that timeframe. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked when the meetings will be televised, and Mr. Smith stated they hope

it will be by October, but this would then delay this matter even further if they waited

until that time.  He noted this is the kind of presentation they wanted to have televised as

it would then reach the most people.  Mr. Bray stated they wanted this in as quickly as

possible so that when new developments come in, they will fall under its purview;

however, they do not want to sacrifice quality for quickness.  Ms. Friedman stated she

feels with the power point presentation being televised, there would be a documented

piece of work that is on file.  Mr. Smith suggested that they get it ready for submission,

and the Board of Supervisors will decide when they want to hold the meeting.  Mr. Bray

stated they will revise this based on the discussions held to date and come back before the

Planning Commission at their next meeting on July 24.  Mr. Majewski stated in the

meantime, they could submit this to the Bucks County Planning Commission to get their

input.  Ms. Frick asked who will be submitting this, and Mr. Majewski stated it will be

the Township Solicitor.

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Mr. Smith stated Lower Makefield will be holding their Community Pride Day on Labor

Day and hopes the EAC and the Planning Commission will participate and put up an

informational table or kiosk at this event.    He stated this could be a time to set up the

power point slides on a placard.    Mr. Bray stated he does plan to discuss this with

Mr. Santarsiero, and they feel they have some innovative ideas for Community Day.

Mr. Pazdera asked that the Planning Commission give some thought as to what they

could put together as well.

 

 

 

 

June 26, 2006                                                            Planning Commission – page 15 of 15

 

 

There being no further business, Mr. Cylinder moved, Mr. Bush seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 9:30 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                        Tony Bush, Secretary