TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

ZONING HEARING BOARD

MINUTES – JULY 13, 2005

 

 

A special meeting of the Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on July 13, 2005.  Chairman Kirk called the meeting to order at 7:08 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Zoning Hearing Board:  Barbara Kirk, Chairman

                                                David Malinowski, Secretary

                                                Paul Bamburak, Member

                                                Darwin Dobson, Member

                                                Greg Caiola, Alternate Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                Robert Habgood, Code Enforcement Officer

                                                John Koopman, Township Solicitor

                                                Allen Toadvine, Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor

                                                Steve Santarsiero, Supervisor Liaison

 

Absent:                         Rudolph Mayrhofer, Zoning Hearing Board Vice Chair

 

 

APPEAL #05-1311, APPEAL #05-1312, APPEAL #05-1313 – ALLEGHENY VALLEY SCHOOL

 

Mr. Regis Champ was present with Bernard Schneider, attorney.  Ms. Kirk stated the

matter was first heard on June 21, 2005; and while she was not present at that meeting,

she had the opportunity to review the Minutes from that Hearing.  She asked if there was

any concern with her continuing to hear the testimony, and Mr. Schneider stated they did

not have any concern.  Ms. Kirk stated based on notes she reviewed, it appears that there

were two issues brought to the attention of the Board one of which being the Board’s

jurisdiction over a denial of a Building Permit by the Zoning Officer.  She understands

that it was the Board’s position at that time that they had no jurisdiction over that issue

and the Board was going to hear the rest of the Appeal.  Mr. Schneider agreed.  Ms. Kirk

stated the Board also accepted Mr. Champ as an expert witness with respect to residential

care for mentally-retarded and other physically-disabled persons, and Mr. Schneider

agreed.

 

Ms. Kirk noted the presence of Christopher DeGrezia, Esquire, present on behalf of

several residents.  Mr. DeGrezia stated when they scheduled the meeting for this evening,

he raised an objection to the date as their experts were unable to be present.  As part of

that request, they would ask that a transcript of the proceedings tonight be supplied to

July 13, 2005                                                              Zoning Hearing Board – page 2 of 27

 

 

them at the Applicant’s cost.  Mr. Schneider stated they have no cause to bear the cost for

his transcript.  He stated the Hearing date was suggested among the parties and while

Mr. DeGrezia did raise an objection, the Chairman made a decision that the meeting

would be held this evening.  Ms. Kirk stated if Mr. DeGrezia wants a copy of the

transcript, he may order one from the Court Reporter as his own expense.  Mr. DeGrezia

stated tonight was not the next scheduled meeting and it was actually July 5.  Ms. Kirk 

noted because of inclement weather, Mr. Schneider was unable to fly out of Pittsburg to

be present that evening and the matter was continued.  There was a written request

submitted by Mr. Schneider’s associate that the Board read into the record on July 5 and

accepted as Exhibit E-5.

 

Ms. Kirk asked if it is Allegheny Valley School’s position that the requested use of the

three properties does not qualify as a nursing home or that they do qualify as a nursing

home in which a Special Exception would be permitted and that Variances would be

needed for dimensional requirements for a nursing home.  Mr. Schneider was unable to

locate a copy of his submissions but felt their position is that they are not a nursing home

under the definition in the Township Ordinance.  He stated they are also not an

intermediate-care facility as defined in the Ordinance.  He stated their residents are not

convalescing and are not ill.  Section 200-68(26) was noted.  He stated they are not a

skilled facility or an intermediate-care facility.  He stated his argument is that the

Township Ordinance in effect incorporates the definition and regulations under which the

State operates because in order to be a nursing home they have to be a skilled or an

intermediate-care facility licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  He stated

there is a difference between an intermediate-care facility and an intermediate-care

facility for the mentally retarded.  He stated they are neither a skilled facility nor an

intermediate-care facility.  He stated they do not provide convalescent care and they do

not provide it by reason of age, chronic illness, or infirmity.  Mr. Schneider stated there is

no infirmity in mental retardation.  Ms. Kirk asked if it is their position that the proposed

use is a matter of right under the Fair Housing Act.  Mr. Schneider asked for and was

provided a copy of their Application.  He stated they have a single-family detached

dwelling and they believe that under the Fair Housing Act and under the Township

Ordinance with a reasonable accommodation that they can have it; alternatively, if they

do fall under the definition of nursing home, they are a nursing home and they need either

a reasonable accommodation or a Variance. 

 

Ms. Kirk stated it appears that their first argument is that this proposed use is a use as a

matter of right under the Fair Housing Act.  Mr. Schneider disagreed, and stated it is a

matter of reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act which is not entirely a

matter of right although it is close to a matter of right.

 

Mr. Champ was asked if Allegheny Valley School owns the property at 1203 Yardley

Road, and Mr. Champ stated they do.  He stated they also own 2100 N. Crescent

Boulevard and 1110 Big Oak Road.  Mr. Champ was shown a copy of the deed for 1110

July 13, 2005                                                              Zoning Hearing Board – page 3 of 27

 

 

Big Oak Road, and Mr. Champ agreed that this was the deed which was marked as

Exhibit A-26.  Mr. Schneider asked if Bucks County has sent back the deed for either

2100 N. Crescent Boulevard or 1203 Yardley Road, and Mr. Champ stated they have not. 

Exhibit A-27 was marked which is the copy of the Settlement Sheet at which Allegheny

Valley School purchased 2100 N. Crescent Boulevard.  Exhibit A-28 was marked which

is the copy of the Settlement Sheet at which Allegheny Valley School purchased 1203

Yardley Road.  These were introduced into evidence and these were shown to

Mr. Koopman and Mr. DeGrezia.

 

Mr. Koopman stated while he has  not had an opportunity to review these documents, he

has no objection that they be introduced to show that Allegheny Valley School currently

holds title and that the purchase price is as shown in the documents.  Mr. Schneider stated

he is not offering them for any other purpose.  Mr. DeGrezia had no objection to these

being introduced into evidence.

 

Mr. Champ was asked to describe the clients who Allegheny Valley School plans to have

reside at 1110 Big Oak Road.  Mr. Champ stated there will be six male individuals with

varying degrees of mental retardation.  He stated one individual is moderately-retarded

and five are profoundly-retarded.  They also have some additional medical complications

including cerebral palsy, seizure conditions, and may have an inability to feed

themselves.  They would need total care with regard to dressing, feeding, and activities of

daily living.  Mr. Schneider asked if any of the residents are ambulatory, and Mr. Champ

stated five of them need a wheelchair, and one is ambulatory. 

 

At the 2100 N. Crescent Boulevard address, Mr. Champ stated there will be six females. 

One is moderately-retarded, one has severe mental retardation, and the remaining have

profound mental retardation.  Some have cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, and all would

need continual assistance with activities of daily living.   Five of the women are non-

ambulatory and use a wheelchair.  One is ambulatory.

 

At 1203 Yardley Road, there will be six female residents, one of which has severe mental

retardation, one is moderately-retarded, and four have profound mental retardation.  All 

of them are ambulatory.  Some do have seizure disorder and some other minor medical

issues.  He stated this group functions a little bit higher but still needs supervision or

some assistance with dressing and feeding.

 

There was discussion on activities of daily living.  Mr. Champ stated this includes

bathing, eating, dressing, getting prepared to go to work/school, and going out on trips,

etc.  He stated the residents at these homes would need help with all of these activities.

 

Mr. Schneider asked if any of the residents have any known dangerous propensities, and

Mr. Champ stated they do not.  He stated they have never been convicted of a crime and

do not have any behaviors problems. 

July 13, 2005                                                              Zoning Hearing Board – page 4 of 27

 

 

Mr. Champ was asked what kind of information Allegheny Valley School uses to

determine if a client is suitable for residential living in a typical neighborhood. 

Mr. Champ stated the analysis is done by an inter-disciplinary team which includes

medical staff, physical-therapy staff, occupational-therapy, social service, program staff,

the families, the clients themselves, and an outside advocate if they have one.   The

criteria is derived from the type of house, the neighborhood, what is available, and how

much care these people need.  He stated these are not people who are critically or

chronically ill, and they do not require constant hospitalization.  He stated they then

consider which people could live together in this type of home.

 

Mr. Champ was asked the ages of the people they plan to have live in these residences,

and Mr. Champ stated they are from the early 20s to the mid or late 40s. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked for an explanation of the circumstances which led to Allegheny

Valley School planning to open these group homes.  Mr. Champ stated in March of 2004,

he was asked to attend a meeting with board members from a non-profit organization

called Greenwich Services, Inc. which is a provider of services for those with mental

retardation.  He stated they had a transition in their management staff and had some

additional financial difficulties and had consulted with the State and County about getting

help for their organization.  He gave them some suggestions as to what they could do, and

they came back shortly thereafter and asked if Allegheny Valley School would take over

their organization.  He noted Allegheny had done this in the past taking over

organizations that were either failing financially or had lost their license.  Mr. Champ

stated because the financial condition of their facility was so poor, Allegheny did not

merge, but agreed to enter into a consulting arrangement to try to get their program,

policies, and procedures in order, and look into their financial condition to see if there

was some way to work out a solution to their financial problems.  He stated they took

over in June 3, 2004 and began assessing the entire organization including the clients,

financial condition, condition of the program, and the condition of the physical plants. 

He stated they had an eighty-four bed facility and thirteen small group homes.  They also

have life-sharing programs which is similar to a foster placement where a family would

take one of the clients into their home.  They had approximately thirteen of that type of

placement.  He stated the problem they had was with the eighty-four bed facility which

was an ICF MR facility (Intermediate-Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded) which is

funded through Title 19 Medicaid Program.  He stated this funding is 55% Federal, and

45% State.  He stated the physical plant was an old converted building that had been run

by the Diocese as a care facility which had been abandoned many years ago.  He stated

Greenwich had taken this over in 1987.  He stated the building was in serious disrepair

and the funds to renovate it made it clear that it was not worthwhile to repair it.  He stated

the other issue was that under the new policies in the State of Pennsylvania and the

Federal Government, they really do not support large facilities; and they would prefer

that those beds be converted into small community environments such as the ones they

purchased in Lower Makefield.

July 13, 2005                                                              Zoning Hearing Board – page 5 of 27

 

 

Mr. Champ was asked if the State asked Allegheny to come up with a plan to deal with

the clients at Greenwich; and Mr. Champs stated they did and they worked closely with

the State as they do the licensing, and they knew the problems with the existing facility. 

They also hold the purse strings for the program.  Mr. Champ stated they considered

keeping the facility including the cost of repairs, and the State indicated they would not

support this type of expense.  Mr. Champ stated after they looked at the building, they did

not feel it was safe to stay in the building.  They then submitted a plan for community

dispersal.  They were told that whatever plan was submitted it needed to be Budget

neutral.  He stated Budgets are done one year in advance and they knew how much was

available each year for these programs  Greenwich  had a certain amount of money that

had been approved for the eighty-four beds, and the State wanted them to submit a

proposal that fit into that number.  The policy of the State is that any new facilities that

are developed through ICF MR or other types of funding would be no more than four

beds, and they tried to keep it within that policy.  He stated this is not a regulation – it is a

policy guideline.  Mr. Champ stated in this case to go from eighty-four beds to four-bed

facilities for that same amount of money, it would not work out financially. 

 

Mr. Koopman objected noting that this is a financial conclusion, and Mr. Champ is not an

accountant.

 

Ms. Kirk overruled.

 

Ms. Kirk stated she recalls that prior testimony indicated that there was a facility closed

in Philadelphia, the residents had to be relocated, and Allegheny Valley School looked at

these three properties as a way to relocate these residents.

 

A copy of the proposal that was submitted to the State dated 10/5/04 was marked as

Exhibit A-29.  Mr. Toadvine noted this is a five-page document. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked of the proposals submitted to the State – the four-bed homes, five-

bed homes, and six-bed homes, which proposal did the State accept.  Mr. Champ stated

the State accepted the six-bed home proposal.    Exhibit A-30 was marked, and

Mr. Champ stated this is the Agreement that they enter into with the State dated 11/15/04.

 

Mr. Schneider asked how many clients will be housed at the three homes, and Mr. Champ

stated six will reside at each home since this is what the State required them to do under

the Agreement.  Mr. Schneider asked if the State would have funded the project if they

did not have six residents in each home, and Mr. Champ stated they would not. 

 

Mr. Koopman objected, and Ms. Kirk overruled.

 

Mr. Schneider asked how long six residents will be residing in these homes.

 

July 13, 2005                                                              Zoning Hearing Board – page 6 of 27

 

 

Mr. Koopman objected unless there is foundation as this would involve something that is

supposed to happen in the future.   He stated his objection is based on whether there is

any basis on this witness’s knowledge as to this.  Ms. Kirk stated she will allow the

testimony.

 

Mr. Schneider asked how long there will be six people in each of the homes.  Mr. Champ

stated under their Agreement with the State effective July 1, 2006, they may begin to take

two people out of  two homes each year for seven years.  This will then reduce them to

four beds and they will open one more four bed home.  Therefore over a seven year

period unless the State gets additional funds to allow them to do it quicker, all the homes

under this Agreement will be reduced to four beds.  Mr. Schneider asked how many

homes Allegheny Valley School will open under the Agreement with the State, and
Mr. Champ stated they will open fourteen.  They have located some of these in other

Municipalities other than Lower Makefield.  Mr. Schneider asked if they have any

agreement with the State when particular homes in particular Municipalities will be

reduced  from four to six, and Mr. Champ stated they have one agreement with one

Municipality as they made an agreement with the neighbors in one Municipality who

were not objecting to the homes as much as they were to the number of clients, and they

agreed with that neighborhood that the first home that would be reduced would be that

location.  Mr. Schneider asked if any of the other houses have been specifically identified

to be reduced at a particular time, and Mr. Champ stated they have not.

 

Mr. Schneider stated in the proposal through the State they had a purchase price for the

houses listed at $585,000 and he asked how they arrived at this number.   Mr. Champ

stated they had a projected Budget and they called a number of Real Estate companies to

determine the average cost for a house with a certain square footage.  He stated they need

space for the six clients as well as for the house parents.  Based on what they were told,

they prepared a projection and put in so much money for a house.  Each of the fourteen

homes did cost a different amount of money.  He stated they also have to consider the

cost of renovations.  He stated they need to meet a number of Codes – Life Safety Code

from the State,  a UCC Code locally, install sprinklers, heat and smoke detecting systems

that are electronically interconnected and monitored to a Fire or Police State, adaptive

bathrooms, adaptive hallways, adaptive doorways, etc. to meet the needs of the clients. 

Mr. Champ stated the renovations at the Big Oak Road property will cost approximately

$194,000, at N. Crescent they will be approximately $119,000, and at the Yardley Road

property they will be approximately $40,000. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked if they have determined the cost of a building in Lower Makefield

Township which has five acres of land.

 

Mr. Koopman objected to the testimony as this is testimony as to Real Estate values in

Lower Makefield based on what he was told by a Real Estate broker, and this is not

within Mr. Champ’s area that he has been qualified as an expert.

July 13, 2005                                                              Zoning Hearing Board – page 7 of 27

 

 

Mr. Schneider asked if Mr. Champ asked the Real Estate broker to find all open listings

in Lower Makefield Township in residential districts that had five acres or more, and

Mr. Champ stated he did.  He was provided with print-outs of all of the properties in

Lower Makefield Township that were five acres or more.  Mr. Schneider marked Exhibits

A-31, A-32, A-33, and A-34.   Ms. Kirk asked if Mr. Schneider is submitting all of the

listings that were given to Allegheny Valley School of the homes with five acres or more

available in Lower Makefield, and Mr. Schneider stated he is.  He stated there are only

four of them.  Mr. Koopman objected.  Ms. Kirk asked why they are being submitted. 

Mr. Schneider stated as part of their request for a reasonable accommodation, they are

entitled to a reasonable accommodation under one or two basis – one is that it is not

financially feasible for them to meet the requirements.   He stated the Township’s

requirement for a nursing home is a property of at least five acres, and the prices shown

on the listings will show that this not financially feasible for them  Mr. Koopman stated

he objects to the admission of what is apparently items from multiple listings or some

other source that were given to him by a Real Estate broker, as this would be at least

double hearsay.  Mr. DeGrezia joined in this objection since they have no ability to cross

examine a Realtor.  Mr. Schneider stated he plans to have the Realtor present at a later

meeting and was putting these Exhibits in as part of Mr. Champs’ testimony to explain

their need for a reasonable accommodation.  Ms. Kirk suggested that he have Mr. Champ

testify as to the number of homes that were available and the Realtor can testify as to the

listings.  Mr. Schneider asked Mr. Champ asked how many homes were available that

met the five acre requirement, and Mr. Champ stated there were four.  Mr. Schneider

asked the price ranges on these homes.  Mr. Koopman objected again subject to the

representation that the Broker will be in to testify.  Ms. Kirk allowed testimony as to what

Mr. Champ understood, and Mr. Champ stated he understood them to be between

$700,000 to $900,00 homes and the State would not finance these.  Mr. Koopman

objected, and Ms. Kirk overruled. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked Mr. Champ to explain to the Board what the benefits are to

Allegheny Valley School’s clients of living in a residential neighborhood.  Mr. Champ

stated the benefit would be the difference between living in an eighty-four bed institution

that is falling down and living in a beautiful home.  He stated in addition in the small

homes, the living areas are totally different than a large institution and the care is much

more consistent with staffing patterns considerably higher.  He stated in a typical

institution the staffing pattern for direct care is one to eight.  The staffing patterns in the

home setting would never be less than two staff people at all times so that it would be one

to three at the homes.  He stated when they reduce it to four beds, the staffing pattern

would be two people to four.  Mr. Champ added that they have the ability in the homes to

integrate people into community activities such as getting everyone out to Church each

Sunday.  He stated each of the homes have their own transportation; and while they do

this in the larger facilities, they cannot do so to the extent that they can at the group

homes.  He stated the trend is now to downsize facilities to group homes. 

 

July 13, 2005                                                              Zoning Hearing Board – page 8 of 27

 

 

Mr. Malinowski asked if this could not also be said for every nursing home and it would

be better for all the people to live in a four to six bed facility in a residential

neighborhood.  Mr. Champ agreed.  Mr. Malinowski asked why this is a specific hardship

to Allegheny as opposed to any other nursing home.  Mr. Schneider stated this is not

offered for hardship but is offered for reasonable accommodation to show that there is a

benefit to the client by living in these residences.  Mr. Malinowski stated the Application

indicated that they wanted to be described as and use the property as a nursing home and

the dimensional requirements among other things inflict unnecessary hardship on

Allegheny Valley School.  He stated he is trying to see how this specifically relates to

Allegheny as opposed to any other nursing care facility.  Mr. Schneider stated this would

go to a dimensional Variance that he has asked for and he will offer future testimony on

this through the Realtor showing a lack of ability to have it.  He is currently directing

testimony to the reasonable accommodation.  Mr. Malinowski stated the reason they are

present is for the Variance.  He stated the purview of the Board is to grant a Variance or

not grant a Variance and not be involved in the reasonable accommodation as it is not

within their purview.  Mr. Schneider stated it is within their purview or they are in

violation of the Fair Housing Act.  Mr. Schneider stated the Township has a duty to

provide a procedure under which they can request reasonable accommodation, and the

procedure is a validity challenge.  If they cannot get a reasonable accommodation, then

the Ordinance is invalid.  He stated they have a duty, if they can prove a need for a

reasonable accommodation, under the Fair Housing Act to give it to them.  He stated it is

very similar to a Conditional Use or a Special Exception.  He stated they would have to

meet the standards which are very minimal – one being a financial hardship to Allegheny

Valley School or a therapeutic benefit to the residents.  If they meet either of these, the

Township has a duty to give them reasonable accommodation.  Under the MPC, this does

fall within the purview of the Zoning Hearing Board. 

 

Ms. Kirk asked if Mr. Schneider has submitted into evidence any portions of the Fair

Housing Act dealing with the reasonable accommodation for such a facility. 

Mr. Schneider stated he has not but he could get it before them.  He stated he was

expecting to have to write a brief and has written briefs at other localities and could get

this information for the Board.  He stated he could also send in a copy with the brief.

Ms. Kirk stated he did submit copies of all Sections of the Zoning Ordinance and she

feels it would be beneficial to the Board if they had the Section of the Fair Housing Act

dealing with reasonable accommodation request.  Mr. Schneider stated he submitted the

Sections of the Ordinance since if he does not get reasonable accommodation at this

level, he will have to go to Federal District Court and has to make his record at this level. 

The Ordinance Sections are evidence that will be relevant in Federal District Court as in

order to prove an Ordinance, he must put it into evidence.  He stated he would agree to

provide the Sections of the Fair Housing Act to the Board. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked if the clients have more opportunities to make decisions for

themselves in a group home as opposed to a large institution such as the eighty-four bed

July 13, 2005                                                              Zoning Hearing Board – page 9 of 27

 

 

Greenwich facility.  Mr. Champ stated by regulation of the State the clients are to be

involved in every decision.  He stated in large institutions choices are severely limited in

terms of what is available and how often they can experience community activities. 

Mr. Schneider asked if residents ever get a choice as to what will be served for dinner at a

large institution.  Mr. Champ stated other than a specific medically required situation that

would be determined by a physician, it is possible, but much less likely in a large

institution.  In a small facility, they would be able to be involved much more easily.  He

stated typically the family and the client get involved in selecting the menu and make

sure items they like are on the menu.  He stated they do try to do this in larger facilities,

but it is not done with the same regularity. 

 

Ms. Kirk asked if the six people living in these facilities, other than not being related by

blood, will operate as a family unit in all other respects; and Mr. Champ agreed.

Mr. Champ stated this is the whole concept.  He stated they will move into the house and

this will be their permanent home.  He stated because of the way this is designed, two of

the six will eventually leave that home and move into a different permanent home.  The

remainder will stay at this home.  He stated they currently have one hundred group homes

that they operate, and they have some people who have been living in the same home

since the 1970s.  He stated if they at some point experience terminal illness, they stay

there and bring in hospice.  He stated the groups become very attached.  He stated they

also have house parents who live there.  House parents can be a single person, a married

couple, or a married couple with children; and this depends on the size of the house and

what they have available for them.  Ms. Kirk asked if the individuals who are proposed to

reside in each of these homes have lived together in the past.  Mr. Champ stated they did

make it a priority to keep people together who are already living together and who are

good friends.  He stated this is also good because the client’s families also know each

other as well. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked the duties of the house manager/house parents, and Mr. Champ

stated it is their duty to be the surrogate parents and have responsibility to ensure that the

residents are clothed, fed, and have a safe, secure, healthy environment.  They are also

responsible for making sure that the direct care staff is properly scheduled, and that the

trips to the community are scheduled and carried out properly.  They also do the contacts

with the family and community groups.  The house parents live in the home in separate

quarters.  He stated this is why they purchase relatively large houses as they want them to

have their own separate bedrooms and living room areas.  They eat with the residents as

this is a requirement of the job.  Mr. Schneider asked who prepares the meals, and

Mr. Champ stated the direct care staff and the house parents help prepare the meals along

with help from the residents as much as possible.  He stated the residents will be in the

kitchen area and there is generally something they can find for everyone to do. 

Mr. Schneider asked the benefit of having house parents to the residents.  Mr. Camp

stated the main thing is consistency and the fact that they know there is one person

always there.  He stated it also ensures a connection between the shifts.  Mr. Champ

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 10 of 27

 

 

stated if a client were ill and could not go to their day program, the house parent would

stay with them at the house as the rest of the staff would be going off during the day to

the adult training facility with the other residents. 

 

Ms. Kirk asked if the house parents have any other independent employment positions. 

Mr. Champ stated if they are a married couple, either the husband or the wife would be

the house manager employed by Allegheny.   The other individual could be employed

either by Allegheny or have some other job.  Ms. Kirk asked what the situation would be

if there was only one house parent, and Mr. Champ stated that person would be the

employee of Allegheny Valley School.  He stated they do prefer to have married couple

with children and the vast majority of their homes have married couples with one or two

children.  If they have a very large house, they could have three children.  Ms. Kirk asked

if Allegheny Valley School only has married couples as house parents, and Mr. Champ

stated this is incorrect as they do have single people that are house parents.  In this case,

that individual would be employed only by Allegheny Valley School as the house parent

and could have no other employment.    They are on twenty-four hour call; and if they are

away shopping, etc., they would have a beeper and cell phone.

 

Mr. Champ stated the other benefits of the house parents is that it provides on-site

management.  He stated they spend a lot of time finding qualified people.  He stated the

other benefit is that the house parent is part of the neighborhood.  He stated when there

are house parents, they are on site and have responsibility for the shift if the direct care

staff does not come to work.  He stated the neighbors would know the house parents and

could contact them if they have any concerns.    He stated they prefer that their house

parents they have children and they look for communities with very good School

Districts as they try to attract a certain type of person and usually these are people who

have children and are very interested in having their children attend a good School

District.  He stated they have found that they will typically stay with them until their

children are out of the local School District.  He stated many of their house parents are

therefore with them for a long period of time because they have grown roots in the

community.  He stated the children also have a tremendously-positive effect on the

clients, and the house parents have indicated that their children also benefit from this

experience as well.  Mr. Schneider asked the benefit to having a house parent with a

spouse.  Mr. Champ stated they have found that married couples stay with them longer. 

 

Mr. Schneider noted the prior Exhibits he had marked as A-31 through A-34 and stated

since he will wait for the Realtor to testify, he will not enter these at this time.  He

therefore marked a different document Exhibit A-31 which is the job description for the

House Manager/House Parent which describes the duties of the House Manager. 

Mr. Champ stated their Human Resources Director prepared this document. 

 

Mr. Caiola stated he would prefer that in the future each Board member be provided a

separate copy of the Exhibits.

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 11 of 27

 

 

Exhibit A-32 was marked, and Mr. Champ stated this is the job description and definition

for the House Manager Aide/Direct Care Staff.  Mr. Champ stated this individual carries

out and supervises all activities of daily living.  They also have some maintenance/

housekeeping responsibilities, and help prepare the meals, and go to social events and

Church services with the residents.  Mr. Champ stated there are three shifts over a

twenty-four hour period which are 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and

11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.  On the first shift there would be one House Manager Aide and

the House Manager, two House Manager Aides on the second shifts, and two House

Manager Aides on the third shift.  Ms. Kirk asked if the House Manager Aides are

individuals who come in from the outside to the residence, and Mr. Champ agreed.  He

stated they are specifically assigned to a specific house.  These individuals are in addition

to the House Parents.  They do not reside at the house. 

Mr. Schneider asked if, prior to hiring, do the House Managers and House Manager

 

Aides undergo a criminal history check, and Mr. Champ stated they do; and this is

required by law.  Mr. Champ stated they also have a Drug and Alcohol policy for all of 

their employees which applies to both on duty and off duty use of drugs and alcohol. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked for further discussion on benefits of community living to the clients. 

Mr. Champ stated this also helps with personal growth and very quickly they see that the

residents are much better with activities of daily living when they are in a group setting. 

 

A short recess was called.  The Board reconvened at 8:36 p.m.

 

Ms. Kirk stated they will terminate testimony at 10:00 p.m. and continue the Hearing to

the next meeting scheduled for July 19, 2005.  Mr. Koopman stated he will not be

available that evening.  Ms. Kirk suggested he send someone else from his office.

Mr. Schneider stated one of his expert witnesses will also not be available that evening

although he does have other witnesses who could attend.  Ms. Kirk stated she feels the

meeting will again be continued after July 19, and she would prefer to keep this going

forward consecutively. 

 

Mr. Schneider noted the property at 1110 Big Oak Road and asked if they will have a

house parent with a family at that location.  Mr. Champ stated they do not know who they

will have at that location at this time.  They did have a family in mind but because of the

length of this process, they were moved to another house.  Mr. Champ stated they do  not

have house parents selected for 2100 N. Crescent at this time.  At 1203 Yardley Road

they do have a single individual who has been on their staff a number of years.  At this

location there will only be a single woman as it is a smaller living area for the house

parents and not an area large enough for a family.  There is room in the other two homes

for a married couple and their children.  Mr. Schneider asked the limit on the number of

children, and Mr. Champ stated they allow two children as this is normally what the

space for the house parents would allow as they typically have two bedrooms for the

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 12 of 27

 

 

house parents.  It could therefore be a married couple with two children of the same sex. 

If  they have three bedrooms,  they could have two children of the opposite sex.  Ms. Kirk

asked what would happen if one of their house parents who had two children find that

they now have three.  Mr. Champ stated that they are told up front that if they have three

children, they cannot continue in the program unless they have a house available large

enough to which they could transfer. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked who is interviewed when they interview for the house parent

position.  Mr. Champ stated they do try to get existing staff and advertise within the

Allegheny Valley School system.  They also advertise in local newspapers and list

criteria.  They also use the Internet and professional organizations to advertise.  They

interview at least twice the spouse of the House Manager and interview the children at

least once.

 

Mr. Schneider asked the maximum number of parking spaces they would need at the

residences, and Mr. Champ stated they would need four as they would need one for the

house parents, one vehicle for the house itself, and a maximum of two people coming in

on the shift.  The residence is provided with a vehicle depending on whether the home is

for ambulatory or non-ambulatory clients.  Most of the homes have some non-ambulatory

people and they are provided with an adaptive van with a lift.  If they are ambulatory,

they would be provided with a Caravan or similar vehicle.  Mr. Schneider asked if any of

the clients drive or have driver’s licenses, and Mr. Champ stated they do not.

 

Mr. Schneider asked about maintenance of the house.  Mr. Champ stated Allegheny

Valley School views these homes as business assets.  He stated maintenance goes on all

day.  They also have a maintenance crew in the Greater Philadelphia area including

carpenters, electricians, people in the building trade, etc. A slip would be sent in for a

specific project and a crew would take care of the problem.  He stated some of the house

parents can do some small maintenance items themselves.  They typically have a contract

service cut the grass although there are some house parents who enjoy doing this and take

care of it themselves.  This is also the case with regard to maintenance of shrubbery.  He

stated in the summer they often hire local college students to do the lawn maintenance. 

With regard to snow and ice removal, they have maintenance service handle this and they

hire people in regions so that they are close to a number of homes.  If it is an area where

they cannot get one of their people to come out, they contract with a local company. 

Typically the staff will shovel the walks unless it is a very heavy snow where this would

be handled by a maintenance crew or local contractor.  Typically they paint the exteriors

every five to eight years. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked if the homes are inspected by regulatory agencies, and Mr. Champ

stated with regard to the program for the residents, the Department of Health does the

inspection.  This includes all activities of daily living which is called Active Treatment –

how they put a plan together and how they make sure the plan is carried out properly. 

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 13 of 27

 

 

The Operating Regulations, which are Federal Regulations, are contracted out to the State

Department of Health.  Mr. Schneider asked about physical plant inspections, and

Mr. Champ stated Life Safety comes in every year and looks for hazards in the exterior

and interior of the buildings.  This is a State Agency.

 

Ms. Kirk asked what type of Federal license is issued to Allegheny Valley School, and

Mr. Champ stated it is State license and the Federal Government has the State do the

monitoring.  The Department of Health does the survey and makes a determination

whether you can get a license or not and they send this to the Office of Mental

Retardation and the Officer of Mental Retardation actually gives them their Certificate of

Compliance.  Ms. Kirk asked if the license that is issued by the State for a long-term

residential facility, or is it considered a treatment facility.  Mr. Schneider stated it is for

an Intermediate Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded.  The State, by regulation, has

adopted by reference the Federal regulations.

 

Mr. Champ stated at any time you can have individuals from the Office Mental

Retardation come out for follow-up visits.  They can also have “Look Behind” surveys

where the Federal Government actually sends out teams to see that the License Surveyors

have done their job.  Mr. Schneider stated Mr. Champ has indicated that they have close

to one hundred group homes and he asked if they have ever received a complaint about

the physical condition of one of their properties, and Mr. Champ stated they have not. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked for a comparison of the traffic generated by one of their group

homes to a typical single-family residence.  Mr. Champ stated he has not done a traffic

pattern study in Yardley, but in his experience with the homes they operate, they have

never had a complaint about excessive traffic.  He stated the staff are trained to

courteously drive through the neighborhood.  He stated there will be two additional cars

coming in at most on a shift.  He stated a parent could also come in to visit their child or

take them out for a visit.  Mr. Schneider asked if the employees go through driver

training, and Mr. Champ stated they do. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked if the residents or staff use any more water than a non-disabled

person, and Mr. Champ stated they do not.  He also stated they do not generate any more

sewage or refuse or use an ambulance or rescue service any more than normal.  With

regard to Police response to the homes, Mr. Champ stated unless it is required that a

police vehicle accompany an ambulance, this has not occurred in the past.  They have

never had the Police visit one of their homes related to a complaint.  Mr. Schneider asked

if they ask any help from the Fire services in the community, and Mr. Champ stated they

do ask that the Fire Marshall come out once a year and attend a Fire Drill and check the

systems.  He stated there are regular Fire Drills as required by regulation.  He stated they

do them on each shift and they must have the facility evacuated within so many minutes. 

Mr. Schneider asked about mechanical devises related to fire, and Mr. Champ stated they

install a fully-operational sprinkler system in each of the homes, although it is not

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 14 of 27

 

 

obvious and does not detract from the residential nature of the home.  He stated  they also

have fully electrically-interconnected fire and smoke detection systems that are

monitored twenty-four hours and go directly into a monitoring station in the Fire

Department.

 

Mr. Schneider asked if any of the residents other than the children of the house parents

make use of the public school system, and Mr. Champ stated they do not as they are all

over school age.

 

Mr. Schneider asked for an explanation of the Life Safety Department.  Mr. Champ stated

under the regulations for an ICF MR facility, they need to have approval from the

Division of Life Safety of their Building Plan and the architect sends them the Plans.

Life Safety is a State Bureau and they have the responsibility of reviewing ICF MR

facilities.  The meet all their Codes and receive approval from them.  They have received

Life Safety approval for all of the residences. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked if any of the residents have the tendency to make loud noises, and

Mr. Champ stated they will not.  He asked if they can have radios, stereos and

televisions; and Mr. Champ stated they can but they are supervised in their use as they

are supervised with everything they do.  Mr. Schneider asked how often has Allegheny

Valley School received a compliant about noise, and Mr. Champ stated they have not.

 

Mr. Champ was asked to describe a typical day at the group home.  Mr. Champ stated the

individuals are awakened between 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. as it is somewhat involved

getting everyone ready for the day.  They dress and have breakfast and then go out for

their day program/workshop.  He stated every client goes out for a day program at

8:00 a.m. and does not return until between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.  They go to an adult

training facility.  In the evening, they may help with the final preparations for dinner. 

After their meal, they would participate in activities around the home – watching TV,

board games, go to a local mall or a social event, etc.  On the weekends, they may sleep

in later and then do normal activities that people participate in at their home.  On Sunday

they normally have a brunch and clients enjoy going to Church. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked about the payment of taxes.  Mr. Champ stated they are a private,

non-profit, 501C3 organization.  They are exempt from property taxes; but in spite of this

they have across the board voluntarily paid taxes in all the communities they are in.  He

stated they feel since they are using the services of the community, they have always paid

taxes in the community.  Ms. Kirk asked if this would be all the property taxes or just

Township and County, and Mr. Champ stated they pay School and any property taxes and

they ask for exemption from nothing.  Mr. Schneider asked if there has ever been an

exception, and Mr. Champ stated the first exception was last month in a local Township

where they were put through a similar type of Hearing process that is taking place in

Lower Makefield which was very drawn out and was extremely expensive.  They stated

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 15 of 27

 

 

half way through the process because of the extraordinary expenses that they had not

anticipated in putting that home together, that they would ask for an exemption from

property taxes at that one community and not pay taxes until the extraordinary costs were

paid down.  He stated in that instance it involved $80,000 of additional costs and the

taxes were $10,000 a year.  He stated this was the first time in their history that they were

put through this kind of lengthy process.  The other Municipalities involved one or two

Hearings, or more typically none as they had the Zoning Ordinance that allowed group

homes in their community, and they did not even need to go through this process. 

 

Mr. Schneider asked if anything has happened in Lower Makefield Township that may

impact their decision to pay taxes.  Mr. Champ said it has.   He stated they first applied in

March and have been going back and forth and have had extraordinary architectural costs

at this point because there are some contentions about the Codes and interpretations.  He

stated they are now incurring substantial legal fees and they would take the same position

in Lower Makefield.  Mr. Champ stated in all the years with 100 group homes, they have

never not paid taxes but they have not had this kind of a situation.

 

Mr. Schneider asked if there has been a request to the Township to approve funding of

these programs.  Mr. Champ stated they are doing fourteen homes and financing it

through different tax-exempt funding methods.  This is how they have always done

financing either with bond issues or tax-free Municipals.  He stated they go through a

procedure similar to an Industrial Development Authority process and go into the local

areas.  They  have done this for the last twenty years.  This is presented before each

Municipality’s Board of Commissioners.  This is a formality where an attorney makes a

presentation and they sign off on it.  Mr. Champ stated all the Municipalities in the area

signed off on this except for Lower Makefield.  He stated this “killed” the financing and

has cost them over $600,000. 

 

Ms. Kirk asked how this testimony is relevant to what is before the Zoning Hearing

Board.  Mr. Schneider stated he has no further questions of this witness.  Ms. Kirk asked

why this testimony was offered.  Mr. Schneider stated it goes to the issue of paying taxes

as this is an issue that is always addressed during these meetings, and he wanted to put it

on the record.

 

Mr. Dobson asked if they would be willing to provide a list of other Allegheny Valley

School group homes in the area so that the residents could visit them to see if what they

are saying is actually taking place.  Mr. Champ stated he could not provide such a list. 

He stated there are recent obligations that all medical facilities must comply with

regarding privacy.  What they have done in the past is they have taken groups to the

homes, but they cannot just give out addresses and have people knocking on doors. 

Mr. Dobson asked if they would be willing to take a group of residents to a home, and

Mr. Dobson stated they have been doing this and would be more than happy to do so.

 

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 16 of 27

 

 

Mr. Schneider asked the closest locations they could take them to which are already in operation.  Mr. Champ stated they are in Bucks and Montgomery CountyCheltenham,

Abington, and Huntingdon Valley.  Mr. Dobson noted these are all in Montgomery

County.  Mr. Champ noted Upper Southhampton and Telford.  Mr. Schneider asked prior

to these homes opening where did they take groups.  Mr. Champ stated they have ten

homes in the City of Philadelphia that they have operated since the mid-80s.  They do not

have house parents and they do not own those homes.  These were Bond Project homes. 

He stated the City put together a project for people from Pennhurst and a few other large

institutions that were closed down.  They bought these homes which are in the City but

they could not get providers to operate them under ICF MR which is a relatively

complicated and demanding type of service to provide because the regulations are so

strict and some providers do not want to do this.  They were asked by the City and State

officials if they would run some of these Bond homes and they took ten of them.  He

stated they do not have facilities for house parents and are the only homes in their system

where they do not have house parents.  He stated they had questions similar to those

being asked now when they appeared before other Zoning Boards.  He stated they have a

fairly large number of homes in Hershey, Pennsylvania and those are the closest homes

with house parents living in the homes and they invited the concerned residents to go to

Hershey and meet the staff.  After they went to the homes, those people also, on their

own, went into the neighborhood and asked the neighbors their opinions and also

contacted the local Police and the Township Manager; and it was a very positive

experience. He stated the Hearings were quickly completed as a result of the neighbors

going into those homes.  He stated locally they have now opened some of the fourteen

homes and had they had them opened previously, they could have visited those rather

than go to Hershey.  He would therefore be more than willing to have a reasonable size

group at a time go see those homes.  Mr. Schneider stated they could therefore see new

homes which have just opened or go see the homes in Hershey which have been opened

for about ten to fifteen years.  Mr. Schneider stated they can call Mr. Champ at

412-299-7777 or Mr. Raymond Smith, the Regional Administrator in Philadelphia, at

215-677-9500.

 

Mr. Bamburak asked about the Bond Issue that was previously discussed that was

cancelled because Lower Makefield would not sign on.  Mr. Champ stated a local

attorney comes in and does a presentation on the program and what the financing will be

used for.  The local Municipalities that are involved in this funding group sign off on it;

and Lower Makefield would not sign off.  Mr. Bamburak asked how that group of

Municipalities was selected.  Mr. Champ stated it is similar to an Industrial Development

Authority and a number of Municipaliteis participate in it.  There are funds available and

you can go through that to get a lower rate.  This is typically the kind of funding they do,

and this was the first time a Municipality did not sign off.  He stated it does not have

anything to do with the current Zoning issue.  He stated the Township could have

approved that and the Zoning Hearing Board could still turn them down, so they were

surprised that this had occurred.

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 17 of 27

 

 

Mr. Toadvine had no questions of the witness.

 

 

Mr. Koopman stated Mr. Champ had indicated that Allegheny was a non-profit

corporation and a 501C3 under the IRS Code, and Mr. Champ agreed.  Mr. Koopman

asked if Allegheny is organized on a membership basis.  Mr. Champ stated they have a

voluntary Board of Directors.  Mr. Koopman asked if the Board is self perpetuating so

that when one member of the Board resigns, the Board would appoint a new Director, 

and Mr. Champ agreed.  Mr. Schneider stated he understands that the Board are the

members and the membership is limited to the Board of Directors.  Mr. Champ stated

there are ten members of the Board of Directors and there are officers.  Mr. Koopman

asked that they be provided with a list of the Officers of the Corporation and the members

of the Board of Directors, and Mr. Champ agreed to do so.  Mr. Koopman asked when

Allegheny Valley School was formed, and Mr. Champ stated it was 1960.  Mr. Koopman

asked the names of the incorporators and who appointed the initial Board of Directors. 

Mr. Champ stated he understands the original incorporator was Patricia Hillman Miller

who founded the organization, Bob Prince and Doug Hannah.  Mr. Koopman asked if any

of these individuals are still with the organization, and Mr. Champ stated those three are

deceased.  He stated there are one or two who were on the Board in 1960 and are still on

the Board and he can get this information to the Township.

 

Mr. Koopman asked that they also provide copies of financial statements.  Ms. Kirk

asked how this is relevant to what is before the Board.  Mr. Koopman stated one of the

concerns that has been expressed is whether this entity will have the financial viability to

maintain these homes in a manner suitable to Lower Makefield Township.  Therefore, the

financial condition of the entity and financial history is relevant.  Ms. Kirk stated what is

before the Zoning Hearing Board is a question that relates to the Township Zoning

Ordinance and has nothing to do with whether they have the ability to maintain a home or

not and is no different than any other individual coming in to buy a home who might then

go bankrupt.  Mr. Koopman stated Mr. Schneider has conceded that Allegheny Valley

School does not meet the strict requirements of the Zoning Ordinance so he is before the

Board asking for Variances under the State MPC or accommodations under the Fair

Housing Act.  Mr. Toadvine stated he does not feel that this is true.  He stated part of the

Application was an Appeal of the determination of the Zoning Officer.  Mr. Koopman

agreed but stated he is also asking for either relief under State Zoning law or asking for

reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act.  He stated in order to be entitled

to that, Allegheny Valley School has a certain burden of proof to meet.  He stated the

standards he has to meet under State MPC requirements are the traditional Variance

standards that are dealt with at every Hearing.  Mr. Koopman stated what he is now

addressing may be relevant under State law provisions, but is clearly relevant under the

Fair Housing Act because the Applicant has a burden of establishing that the

accommodations are necessary but also even if he establishes that he is otherwise entitled

to reasonable accommodation, then the Zoning Hearing Board has to go through an

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 18 of 27

 

 

additional analysis to see whether the accommodation would have any hardship upon the

Township, provide any administrative burden on the Township and/or have any adverse

effect upon the overall Zoning scheme of the Township.  He agrees that Mr. Schneider

will probably state this is the burden that shifts to anyone who would be opposed to the

Application.  Therefore the Board will be addressing two questions on the Fair Housing

Act – have they met their burden of establishing entitlement to a reasonable

accommodation and secondly, even if they have, is there a showing being made by

anyone – the Township or the residents present, that the granting of the accommodation

would have some kind of hardship upon the Township or Township residents, an

administrative burden, and/or would be in violation of the essential Zoning policy and

scheme of the Township.  When they address this, they need to consider the typical issues

that are addressed with any Special Exception or accommodation case – will there be a

hardship or adverse effect upon the health, safety and welfare of the community, and this

is where the question arises as to how the houses will be maintained and the effect of the

houses on the neighbors and real estate values.  He stated questions having to do with real

estate values, and upkeep and maintenance of the homes are all issues relevant as to

whether they meet the burden for accommodation that there will not be an adverse effect.

 

Ms. Kirk agreed to allow Mr. Koopman limited leeway.  She stated she will now allow

them to go back over financial information for the last five to ten years.  Mr. Schneider

stated he has no objection to providing the financial statement for the last year.  He stated

he feels Mr. Koopman is going far a field on his defense to the request for a reasonable

accommodation. Mr. Schneider stated he will have testimony from the State that the State

provides the funds for maintaining these buildings.  He stated he recognizes that some

information that they are not required to give may go a long way to alleviating some

concerns of those present so they will provide this although he does not feel it is relevant. 

 

Mr. Koopman noted the Greenwich facility, and Mr. Champ stated it is currently

operating and is located in Germantown within the City of Philadelphia.  Mr. Koopman

noted Mr. Champ referred to a Waiver Program and he asked if what they are proposing

is part of the Waiver Program.  Mr. Champ stated it is not.  He stated theirs is ICF MR

which is actually a funding stream.  The other funding stream that is dominant is the

Waiver Funding Stream.  Both are from the Title 19 Medicaid Act.  The Waiver Program

is basically the ICF MR program and certain of those regulations are waived to make it a

little more flexible.  The Waiver Program pays for family living and life sharing

programs,  homes that are three beds or less, and provides some day services for families.

He stated while they do have some Waiver Programs, but these houses in Lower

Makefield are not part of that Program.

 

Mr. Koopman stated Mr. Champ testified that Allegheny provides care in a variety of

residential settings from small settings of one to two people.  He asked where those

settings would be, and Mr. Champ stated they would be within a single-family home in a

residential community.  Mr. Koopman asked how many of these Allegheny operates

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 19 of 27

 

 

where there are one or two individuals in a single-family home.  Mr. Champ stated they

have possibly three or four of these one to two bed facilities as this is a very unusual

program because they are very expensive and would be for an exceptional situation

where the State or Plan requires a one or two person placement because of the

complications the person may have.

 

Mr. Koopman stated the next group he discussed was three to six bed homes and this is

the type of facility they are proposing for Lower Makefield.  Mr. Champ stated ICFMR

must have at least four beds and can go up to any number in order to be funded by the

State.  With regard to a group home, Mr., Champ stated he feels the regulations state it

can be four to sixteen.  He stated even going to six beds was an exception since he does

not believe there has been anything above four beds developed for probably ten years. 

He stated someone from the State will be present to testify to this.  Mr. Champ stated it

was an exception to go to six beds, but it is allowed under the Regulations.    

 

Mr. Koopman asked the maximum number of clients they have in any group home in the

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Champ stated it is eight – one in Beaver

County in Western, PA, and another in Butler County.  Mr. Koopman asked if those are

the same type of facility where there are house parents, and Mr. Champ agreed. 

Mr. Champ stated the total number of people in those homes would depend on the

residence itself.  If they are complicated people, you might have one to two and if they

are not, you could have three staff people on at once.  Mr. Koopman asked how many

people would be living in the facility where there are eight clients.  Mr. Schneider

objected since they are not asking for an eight bed facility – they are asking for six. 

Objection was sustained.

 

Mr. Koopman asked if they would be prepared to stipulate and agree that with respect to

the N. Crescent and Big Oak properties that there would not be more than ten full-time

residents in those homes.  Mr. Schneider asked if this would include the house parents

and children as well as the clients, and Mr. Schneider stated they would be willing to

stipulate that there would be no more than ten people living in the house, and there would

be no more than six people with mental retardation.  Mr. Koopman asked about the

Yardley Road property, and Mr. Champ stated the maximum number of people they

would propose to live in that property would be eight people including the clients and the

house parents assuming it was a married couple as that property is not large enough for a

married couple and a child. 

 

Mr. Koopman stated Allegheny Valley School’s Website references various group

homes.  He stated Mr. Champ also discussed the group homes in Montgomery and Bucks

County that will take the place of the Greenwich facility.  He asked if they also operate

group home facilities in Philadelphia, and Mr. Champ stated these are the ten Bond

homes that he already discussed.  Mr. Koopman asked how many residents are in those

 

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 20 of 27

 

 

homes.  Mr. Champ stated he believes one has seven beds and the others are between four and six beds.  This only includes clients as there is no live-in staff at these facilities. 

Mr. Champ stated those are listed in the Website by street and they have been operating

those since the mide-80s.  Mr. Koopman asked if there would be an opportunity for

someone to visit those facilities, and Mr. Champ stated they could but they should

understand that they are owned by the City and there are no house parents at those

facilities.  He added there is a Staff Manager for the house, but the Staff Manager does

not live on the property.  Mr. Koopman asked if there are other differences between those

group homes in Philadelphia and those proposed for Lower Makefield; and Mr. Champ

stated the other difference would be that they are in the inner city and this is Yardley, PA

so it is a different environment.  He stated the homes in Philadelphia are very nice and the

clients are thriving in the small environments and they are proud of them. 

 

Mr. Koopman stated Mr. Champ indicated that there are regulations about disclosure of

the specific address, but as part of the Application to the Pennsylvania Department of

Economic and Community Development, the address of the homes are listed.  He stated

the first home listed is the Big Oak Road home.  Mr. Koopman marked Exhibit T-1,

which is entitled Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development

Single Application for Assistance.  Mr. Schneider stated while Mr. Koopman has not

offered this yet, he would like to object to this going in with the addresses on it.  He

stated there is a recent State Supreme Court case dealing with the DEC Grant

Applications that says that the Grant Applications are not public record.  He stated he has

no problem with Mr. Koopman keeping the roads on, but he would not want there to be

reference to the specific addresses.  He stated to the extent that these were given to

DCED, they were given to DCED in light of the Supreme Court decision that the

Applications themselves are not public documents.  Mr. Koopman stated this document

was provided to the Township by Counsel for the Telford Authority as part of the process

of seeking approval for their tax free bond issue so it is not something the Township went

out and sought.

 

Ms. Kirk asked the relevance of the submission of this document.  Mr. Koopman stated it

is a listing of facilities, and he would like to ask the Applicant some questions about the

other facilities that are proposed to house the residents that currently reside in the

Greenwich homes.

 

A brief recess was taken.  The meeting reconvened at 9:33 p.m.

 

Ms. Kirk asked Mr. Koopman why he needs submission of T-1 to ask the Applicant’s

representative questions about the other facility.  Mr. Koopman stated he is not sure he

needs the submission of the document just for that issue, but there are some things in the

document that bear on how many people are going to be coming and going from these

facilities as well as other issues.  He stated they have indicated that they are closing the

Greenwich facility and replacing it with group homes in Bucks and Montgomery

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 21 of 27

 

 

Counties.  He stated he would like to ask about the other group homes, whether they are

in place so they can look at them, and how many clients are in these other group homes. 

He stated he understands that one of the group homes has only five residents at the outset

rather than six, and this Applicant has testified that he needed six.  He stated this is very

relevant because the Zoning Ordinance permits five unrelated people to live together and

not six. He stated the reason for the accommodation is because this Applicant is saying he

needs six to make this financially viable.  Ms. Kirk asked that Mr. Koopman ask the

question, but noted the document (T-1) will not be admitted. 

 

Mr. Koopman stated Exhibit T-1 identifies ten potential homes which he assumes are

group homes that are intended to replace the Greenwich facility.  Mr. Champ stated he is

not sure of the specific numeric addresses, but they are the correct roads.  Mr. Champ

noted the document was signed by the Corporate Secretary for Allegheny Valley School,

and Mr. Champ agreed.  Mr. Koopman stated also shown is the Director of Finance, and

Mr. Champ agreed.  Mr. Koopman stated they both signed this and verified its accuracy,

and Mr. Champ agreed it is signed.

 

Mr. Koopman stated Mr. Champ has already referred to the facility in Upper

Southampton Township and indicated it was up and running.  Mr. Champ stated it is not

yet.  He stated it is completed and the move-in date is by the end of this month.  It has

been certified and the clients are in the process of moving in.  Mr. Koopman stated he

was under the impression that this was one of the homes that they were offering to take

people to, and Mr. Champ stated he would be willing to do so.  Mr. Koopman stated it is

not yet occupied, and Mr. Champ stated it will be either next week or the week after.

Mr. Koopman stated the Bucks County facilities that are listed are the Upper

Southampton facility, the Telford facility, and two Lower Makefield facilities – Big Oak

and N. Crescent, and Mr. Champ agreed.  Mr. Koopman stated it appears that there are

only four group homes in Bucks County according to T-1, and Mr. Champ agreed. 

Mr. Koopman noted the facility proposed for Yardley Road, and Mr. Champ stated that

property probably closed after they prepared T-1. 

 

Mr. Koopman asked why three of the fours homes to be located in Bucks County are

located in Lower Makefield.  Mr. Champ stated the reason for this was because they

found three nice houses in Lower Makefield that fit the criteria.  Mr. Koopman asked

when they contacted Realtors, did they contact them in any particular area. 

Mr. Schneider questioned the relevance of the question.  Mr. Koopman withdrew the

question.

 

Mr. Koopman noted the other homes listed on T-1 are located in Montgomery County,

and Mr. Champ agreed.  Mr. Koopman asked if they looked for homes in Delaware or

Chester County or anywhere other than Bucks or Montgomery.  Mr. Schneider objected,

and Ms. Kirk sustained. 

 

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 22 of 27

 

 

Mr. Koopman noted the Upper Southhampton facility which he understands will have

only five clients rather than six even at the outset.  Mr. Champ stated from the outset

there will be five; but they are applying for a Variance for a sixth resident.  He stated this

was an oversight but not on the part of the Applicant.  He stated they submitted the

Application for the Building Permit which was approved.  After the facility was

completed and the Township walked through, there were six beds and the Township

representative advised that they felt there were only to be five.  He stated their Zoning

permits five plus live-in house staff and this was never discussed as all they did was

submit for the Building Permit.  The Zoning Officer contacted them and said they could

not move in with six.  Mr. Champ contacted the State and discussed the matter with their

attorney and they are going to move in with five and they will apply for a Variance for

the sixth.  They are licensed for six with the State.  Mr. Koopman asked if they have filed

their Application for Variance yet, and Mr. Champ stated they have not and they are

going to do it as soon as they move in.  Mr. Koopman asked if there is any reason why

they could not apply for it before they moved in.   Ms. Kirk questioned the validity of the

question and asked that Mr. Koopman proceed.

 

Mr. Koopman asked the status of the Telford home.  Mr. Champ stated the Telford home

is opening tomorrow with six mentally-retarded residents.  There will be house parents

and their child as well.  Mr. Koopman noted the property in Jenkintown, Abington

Township; and Mr. Champ stated they are opening next week with six mentally-retarded

residents, house parents, and their child.  Mr. Koopman asked if they have Zoning

approval for this, and Mr. Champ stated they approved it immediately and gave them

their Building Permit and welcomed them to the community.

 

Mr. Koopman noted the property in Huntingdon Valley, Lower Moreland Township, and

Mr. Champ stated it is under construction and will probably open in forty-five days.  It is

under renovation.  Mr. Koopman asked if they obtained Zoning/Occupancy approvals for

this.  Mr. Champ stated they had one meeting and presented information; and at the end

of the meeting, the Zoning Hearing Board voted to approve it.  This is for six residents.

 

Mr. Koopman noted the Wyncote, Cheltenham Township project.  Mr. Champ stated this

is proposed to open in three to four weeks with six residents.  Zoning approvals are in

place for this property.  

 

Mr. Koopman noted the property in Lansdale, Upper Gwyned Township, and Mr. Champ

stated this has been approved by the Zoning Hearing Board and scheduled for renovation.

Mr. Koopman asked if this is the Township where they are not going to pay the taxes,

and Mr. Champ stated it is not.  He noted it was a very short process.  Mr. Koopman

asked the Township where they are not going to be paying taxes, and Mr. Champ stated it

is the Wyncote, Cheltenham Township project.

 

 

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 23 of 27

 

 

Ms. Kirk asked if these properties are all being opened as a replacement for the facility in

Philadelphia which is closing, and Mr. Champ agreed. 

 

Mr. Koopman noted the Blue Bell, Whitpain Township project, and Mr. Champ stated

this facility is open and they would be willing to show people this home with six

residents and house parents with two children so there are ten permanent residents of that

facility.

 

Mr. Koopman noted the Fort Washington, Whitemarsh Township project, and

Mr. Champ stated it will open next week or at least by the end of July.  They will have

six residents, and there is a single house parent who will live in the property permanently.

 

Mr. Koopman noted the Application and stated at both the Big Oak Road site and the

N. Crescent Boulevard site, the Application says that at each of those sites, there will be

an estimated 7.8 direct care staff positions created as a result of the home opening as a

group home.  Mr. Champ stated he assumes this is accurate although he did not do the

staffing patterns.  Mr. Koopman stated in terms of how many people will be coming and

going to the homes, they would have six clients, potentially four people in addition to the

six clients permanently living in the home as there could be a husband and wife and two

children, and then 7.8 staff.  He stated therefore during the week there could be 17.8

people coming and going from the single-family home.  Ms. Kirk stated he testified that

there would be two aides coming during different shifts.  Mr. Koopman stated he agrees

but it appears to be inconsistent with the testimony that on one shift there would be a

house parent and one staff, and on the second and third shift there would be two staff. 

Mr. Champ stated there is also weekend staff which is different from the staff during the

week.  Mr. Koopman stated that over a period of a week, there would be 17.8 different

people coming and going from the facility which would be 7.8 staff people and ten

people who permanently reside there.  Mr. Champ agreed.  Mr. Koopman stated

Mr. Champ indicated that different staff people would come in on the weekend, and

Mr. Champ agreed.  He stated the staffing number during the weekend would be the same

as during the week and there would be no less than two people on per shift.

Mr. Koopman stated one of the staffing positions is the House Manager on the first shift

during the week, and Mr. Champ agreed.  On the second and third shift, they would have

two direct care people.  This would be the same number on the weekend as it is during

the week.  He stated there has to be two staff available at all times.  Mr. Koopman asked

if there will be more people there on the weekend.  Mr. Champ stated there will be two

people per shift on the weekend.  Mr. Koopman asked if one of these will be the house

parent, and Mr. Champ disagreed.  Mr. Koopman asked if there will be two direct care

staff people present during the first shift on the weekend, and Mr. Champ stated this is

correct.  During the week, the house parent would be one of the two people on the first

shift.  Ms. Kirk stated she assumes that this is so the house parent can take their children

out during the weekend, and Mr. Champ agreed and noted this is also the case in the

evening. 

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 24 of 27

 

 

Mr. Koopman stated they were provided with Exhibit A-29 which was the 10/5/04

Allegheny Valley School proposal to the State.  Mr. Koopman stated attached to this was

a three-page project proposal.  Mr. Koopman asked if they submitted other documents to

the State prior to the Agreement being entered into other than Exhibit A-29.  Mr. Champ

stated they had submitted their first proposal to the State for a four-bed proposal; and the

State came back and stated it was not Budget neutral, and they would have to do better. 

A-29 was the second letter.  Mr. Koopman asked if Mr. Champ could provide them with

a copy of the first proposal made to the State.  Mr. Schneider objected noting that the first

proposal is not relevant.  Mr. Koopman stated he feels it is extremely relevant as it goes

to the cost issue.  Mr. Schneider stated it is also contained in the October letter. 

Mr. Koopman stated he feels he is entitled to see it, to see if it is accurate.  Mr. Schneider

stated Mr. Koopman is not entitled to Discovery.  Ms. Kirk sustained the objection.  She

stated the cost for the four-bed proposal is submitted as page 3 on A-29 which does a

comparison of costs submitted for four-bed, five-bed, and six-bed facility.

Mr. Koopman stated there was a separate four-bed proposal previously submitted which

he feels they are entitled to see.  Ms. Kirk stated she has noted his objection, but it is

sustained. 

 

Mr. Koopman asked if, other than the four-bed proposal, there was any other financial

documentation submitted in writing prior to the November 15, 2004 letter back from the

State.  Mr. Champ stated he does not believe so.  Mr. Koopman asked if there was no

other back-up submitted for the Budget, and Mr. Champ stated it was not required.

Ms. Kirk asked Mr. Champ who submitted this information; and Mr. Champ stated it was

done by their Chief Financial Officer, Gerry Parfitt.  Mr. Koopman stated he assumes he

would have used some background documents to prepare the Budget.  Ms. Kirk

suggested that they subpoena the CFO if Mr. Koopman has issues as to this. 

Mr. Koopman stated he was asking the Applicant to save time and move forward with the

proceeding, that if there was back-up documentation that supports this Budget, he would

like to see it.  Mr. Schneider stated he objects as Mr. Koopman is not entitled to

Discovery; and if he wants documents, he can subpoena them and they can make an

argument as to whether or not to quash that subpoena.  He stated whether or not there are

back-up documents, Mr. Champ has already testified that this is what was sent to the

State and what the State worked from so it is only this document that is relevant and not

the back-up.  He stated the State may have a right to question their back-up documents,

but this is what the State worked from and is the basis of the State funding. 

 

Mr. Koopman stated he would like to state on the record why he disagrees with this.

Ms. Kirk stated he has already indicated on the record why he disagrees with this, and she

is making a ruling on an objection.  Mr. Koopman asked to state on the record why he

disagrees with this; however, Ms. Kirk would not allow this and noted the objection is

sustained.

 

 

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 25 of 27

 

 

Mr. Koopman stated Mr. Champ has provided information on the clients.  He stated he

used the terms moderately, severely, and profoundly mentally retarded and asked what

these terms mean.  Mr. Champ stated they are levels of mental retardation that are used

generally in the field to define functioning based on IQ and actual ability.  He stated how

someone functions and their IQ can be two very different things.  Mr. Koopman stated he

assumes there are standards.  Mr. Champ stated they will have a medical Doctor testify as

to this.  Mr. Koopman asked if any of the clients suffer from accidents that resulted in

brain injury, and Mr. Champ stated this is likely, although he cannot comment on these

specific individuals. 

 

Mr. Koopman asked if Mr. Champ can tell them what area of Pennsylvania the clients are

from.  Mr. Schneider objected based on relevance.  Ms. Kirk asked Mr. Koopman the

relevance, and Mr. Koopman stated he is trying to find out general information about the

residents as some concerns have been addressed by the Township and certain residents.

Ms. Kirk stated she feels this is outside the purview of the Board.    Mr. Koopman stated

they have provided gender and ages of the proposed residents, and asked if they can be

more specific about the other disabilities or handicaps they may have.  Mr. Champ stated

at the Big Oak Road and N. Crescent property, they have some medical disabilities other

than mental retardation.  He stated the medical Doctor can testify to this.  Mr. Koopman

asked about Mr. Champ’s familiarity with these individuals, and Mr. Champ stated he has

become familiar with them over the past year.  He stated he has met each of the eighty-

four individuals.  Mr. Koopman stated the proposed residents of the Big Oak Road and

N. Crescent properties are non-ambulatory; and Mr. Champ stated that in each facility,

one is ambulatory and five are non-ambulatory.  At the Yardley Road home, they are all

ambulatory.  Mr. Koopman asked if any of the individuals go outside of the home

without supervision, and Mr. Champ stated they do not.  Mr. Koopman asked if the

clients who are ambulatory, including those at the Yardley Road facility, ever leave the

house without supervision, and Mr. Champ stated they would not.  Mr. Koopman asked if

they would normally leave the house in a motor vehicle going to locations, etc., and

Mr. Champ agreed.

 

Mr. Koopman stated Mr. Champ indicated that none of the residents have criminal

records and no dangerous propensities or behavior problems, and asked how he knows

this.  Mr. Champ stated he sat in on the staffing and reviewed their extensive records.  He

assumed this would be brought up at this time of Hearing, so he took particular interest in

this.  Mr. Koopman asked if his statement to this effect is therefore based on his review

of the records of these individuals.  Mr. Champ stated this is correct as well as

discussions with the staff at the Inter-Disciplinary staffings.  Mr. Koopman asked if this

would be the Greenwich staff that has had experience with these individuals, and

Mr. Champ agreed.  Mr. Koopman asked how long these residents have been in the

Greenwich facility and how long the staff would have knowledge about these individuals. 

Mr. Champ stated all of these clients have been with them over five years and some have

been there for twenty-five years.  Mr. Champ stated the records are substantial. 

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 26 of 27

 

 

Mr. Koopman asked if some of these individuals have been at the Greenwich facility as

children, and Mr. Champ agreed.

 

Mr. Koopman stated he has no more questions for this witness along this line, but he does

have more questions for this witness in the future.  Ms. Kirk suggested that they conclude

the meeting tonight at this point.

 

Mr. DeGrezia suggested that since the Township attorney cannot make the next meeting,

and he too has a conflict, as well as one of the Applicant’s experts who is not available,

would it be possible to consider continuing the matter to the following meeting rather

than the next regularly-scheduled meeting on July 19, or schedule another special

meeting.  Mr. Schneider stated that he has no objection to a special meeting but would

also ask that the regular Hearing go forward.  He suggested that possibly Mr. DeGrezia

can have someone else from his firm attend the next meeting if he is not available. 

Ms. Kirk stated she felt his issue was his expert was not available; and at the rate this is

proceeding, there will be several more Hearings.  She feels this should continue to the

next Hearing date as there are only two other matters on the Agenda for that meeting on

July 19, 2005.  Mr. Koopman stated while he does not have a problem with that

approach, he will not be available on July 19 and does not feel there will be a transcript

available by that meeting so whoever he has attend in his stead would not have had a

transcript to review.  Mr. Toadvine stated they can review the Minutes of the meeting. 

 

Ms. Kirk asked if Mr. Champ will be attending all subsequent meetings; and

Mr. Schneider stated Mr. Champ will be present for all meetings barring some

emergency.  Ms. Kirk suggested that to move forward, since Mr. Koopman will not be

available at the next meeting to continue his cross examination, that Mr. Champ be

recalled under cross, and Mr. Schneider agreed.  Mr. DeGrezia stated he does have a

meeting scheduled for July 19.  Ms. Kirk stated there are so many attorneys involved and

only two Hearings a month of the Board.  She noted there are only two other matters

scheduled for July 19, 2005 and she would like to keep this Appeal moving. 

 

 

A resident stated they would not then have representation at the meeting if Mr. DeGrezia

cannot attend.   Ms. Kirk asked that Mr. DeGrezia send someone else from his office. 

 

Ms. Kirk moved, Mr. Malinowski seconded and it was unanimously carried to continue

the matter until July 19, 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 13, 2005                                                            Zoning Hearing Board – page 27 of 27

 

 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                        David Malinowski, Secretary