The Secretary administered an oath of office to the Planning Commission members as instructed by the Township Solicitor.
There were no announcements.
Mr. Motel called for nominations for the position of Chairman of the Planning Commission for 2009. Mr. Allen nominated Andy Motel for Chairman and Mr. Churchill seconded. There being none further, Mr. Motel closed the nominations. He called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote, and all five members present were in favor.
Mr. Motel called for nominations for the position of Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission for 2009. Mr. Motel nominated Mike Allen for Vice Chairman and Mrs. Gorman seconded. There being none further, Mr. Motel closed the nominations. He called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote, and all five members present were in favor.
Mr. Motel moved to appoint Gary Bender, Esq. as counsel to the Planning Commission for 2009, and Mr. Allen seconded. Mr. Motel called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote, and all five members present were in favor.
The meeting schedule for 2009 was set for the second Tuesday of the month, with the fourth Tuesday in reserve to be scheduled as needed, to be held at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154, at 7:30 P.M. An exception was made for September, where the first meeting of the month will be held on September 15th instead of September 8th due to a conflict with the Board of Supervisors’ schedule.
Mr. Allen indicated he had a few minor changes that he’ll provide to the Secretary. Mr. Reis moved to approve the Dec. 9, 2008 minutes with these changes and Mrs. Gorman seconded. Mr. Motel called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote and all five members present were in favor.
Andrew Defonzo, P.E. of D.L. Howell and Megan King, Esq. were present to discuss a proposed lot line change to the Zantzinger property on Pikeland Road. (Ms. Peck arrived at this time.)
Mr. Motel asked how many parcels are owned by the Zantzinger estate, and Mr. Defonzo said four. The proposed plan only involves two of those lots.
Ms. King said the plan was basically for a lot line change to take .2 acres from Lot 1 and add them to Lot 2 in order to reduce the size of Lot 1 to just under two acres. Both lots are under Act 319, and only 2 acres can be transferred out of Act 319 per year or the transfer will trigger the rollback of all taxes and here that tax would be substantial. The applicant wants to be able to sell Lot 1 as a single building lot to raise funds for the management of the estate.
Mr. Kohli said that the net-out calculations for Lot 1 were not provided. Mr. Allen confirmed this will have to be done. Mr. Defonzo said there will be 86,000 square feet in Lot 1 after netting out the existing right of way. Mr. Motel asked if there are any steep slopes, and Mr. Defonzo said he’s fairly confident there are not. He distributed a copy of a USGS contour map that shows this. Mr. Motel said the contour lines must be shown on the plans, and Mr. Kohli added this must be done by survey, not by using the USGS maps. The Township has to be certain the lot will meet the 80,000 square foot lot size minimum after all applicable net-outs; otherwise it would create a non-conforming lot.
Mr. Motel referenced Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 1/6/09, item #4, which requires a tabulation of slopes and wetlands on the plans. He said the Township won’t waive this as requested by the applicant.
Mr. Motel asked if the abutting neighbors were notified of the meeting as required by the SLDO. Ms. King said they’re all aware of the plan but weren’t notified by letter.
Mr. Reis asked what will happen with Lot #2. Ms. King said it remains under easement with the Natural Lands Trust. It can be subdivided into two lots, but no new structures can be added. There are already two houses on the parcel. She indicated that the easement was donated, and that no Township funds were used to acquire it. Mr. Motel said the easement is unrelated to the present application. Mr. Reis asked about the other Zantzinger parcels, and Ms. King responded that they are all subject to the easement.
Mr. Motel asked Mr. Defonzo if the next revision can show an outline of the existing houses and all the Zantzinger parcels and he agreed. Mr. Allen asked if the right of way on Lot #1 was to access the interior lot behind it and Ms. King said yes.
Mr. Motel said he didn’t have a problem with the waiver requests listed in Mr. Kohli’s letter as 9.a and 9.d through 9.n, only with 9.b and 9.c as indicated previously. (Mr. Comitta arrived at this time.)
Mr. Motel referenced Mr. Theurkauf’s review memorandum dated 12/30/08 and indicated that note #2 regarding the lot shape is no longer an issue. Ms. King said Mr. Theurkauf wasn’t aware of the rationale for the line change rated to Act 319.
Mr. Motel referred to item #3, which asks for permission to re-establish the Horseshoe Trail along the Turnpike on the Zantzinger property. Ms. King said the executor of the estate has no authority to grant this request, as he is limited to fiduciary responsibilities. She offered to introduce the Planning Commission to family members to start a dialog regarding the trail. Mr. Motel asked who the executor is and his relationship to the family. Ms. King said the executor is attorney Herbert Riband, and she doesn’t know the relationship. Mr. Motel passed along to her a book on the Horseshoe Trail for the family, along with a copy of a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in Stanton v. Lackawanna Energy, Ltd., that addresses liability, and specifically discusses the immunity landowners enjoy from negligence lawsuits by individuals who use unimproved land for recreational purposes under the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act, and a copy of the recent Township Use Ordinance regulating use of the Horseshoe Trail. Mr. Motel said he spoke to the late Mr. Zantzinger many years before and understood he had privacy concerns. Those concerns were part of what prompted the Planning Commission to propose the Use Ordinance that the Township ultimately adopted. He said at the next meeting, neighbors may be in attendance, including the Seiberts, who had similar concerns. He hopes to assure them there’s a way to keep the trail open without it being a burden on the property or to the property owner.
Ms. Peck asked if the family might consider allowing permission for the trail to be open without a permanent easement. Mr. Churchill suggested all the Township was really seeking was permission for the public use of the Trail under the terms specified in the Use Ordinance, and, as a license, it could be revoked at any time.
Mr. Motel said there have been discussions about creating an “adopt a trail” program, where volunteer groups such as the scouting organizations could adopt a section of the trail to provide maintenance, including clearing and trash removal.
Ms. King asked where they would want to locate the trail. Mr. Motel said that could be determined, subject to the agreement by the Family or representatives, during the mandatory site visit by the Planning Commission.
Mr. Motel asked the applicant to return to the Planning Commission after the plan has been revised to include the contours and natural features and an inset showing the neighboring parcels and structures, and following notification of the abutting property owners.
Jason Honesty of the Exeter Group and Neal Camens, P.E. of Chester Valley Engineers were present to discuss proposed additional parking to accommodate the flex space at the former Decision One building at 3222 Phoenixville Pike.
Mr. Honesty showed a color rendition of the plan for additional parking on the 45 acre parcel. Mr. Townes indicated this was the first building of the Commons @ Great Valley subdivision undertaken by J. Loew and Associates. Mr. Honesty said the two current tenants are Aegeon and Accutone. The middle section of the building is vacant. The building is approximately 200,000 square feet, of which half is under long term lease. He wants to increase the number of parking spaces to accommodate any type of tenant, and since office use requires more parking spaces than warehouse use, he wants approval of a plan to expand the parking as if the new use was 100% office. There are currently 500 parking spaces, and he wants to increase this to 1,000.
Mr. Churchill was concerned with truck traffic in the same area as parking. Mr. Honesty said there will still be sufficient room for trucks to maneuver. Mr. Camens said the trucks for Aegeon are able to turn around in the Aegeon area only. Mr. Allen said there won’t be a lot of control over truck traffic if they get a tenant that requires heavy truck service.
Mr. Allen said they’ll have to comply with the ordinance requirements for either 10 x 20 foot parking spaces, or with the engineer’s acceptance, 9 x 20 foot spaces. He said it’s difficult for the Planning Commission to make recommendations when they don’t know what the use will be. Mr. Honesty said there are no plans to build it all at this time, they just want it approved and ready. He said that with 9 x 20 foot spaces, they could eliminate the need for parking stalls along the main driveway. Mr. Motel asked Mr. Kohli if he had any objection to this size space, and Mr. Kohli said no.
Mr. Honesty said the proposed new spaces could be constructed per the ordinance, but they are looking for relief from striping and landscaping requirements in the existing areas. He said that even with the expansion, the property will only have 40% impervious surface coverage, where 60% is permitted. Mr. Motel said the ordinance requires a landscaped island every 10 spaces, and he realizes this can be very challenging. He suggested there may be some room for compromise here. Mr. Churchill suggested they obtain complete compliance on the new paving areas without requiring it for the existing pavement. He added that in theory, the parking areas should be able to revert to the lesser parking needs, as the use is designed to be flex.
Mr. Motel said the 9 x 20’ spaces are acceptable to him, and Ms. Peck agreed. Mr. Motel said they might benefit from a site meeting with Mr. Kohli and 2 or 3 Planning Commission members.
Mr. Kohli said the high ground water areas must be shown on the plans, and Mr. Camens said Del Val Soils did perform this mapping. Mr. Kohli said a conditional use approval would be required for construction in these areas.
Mr. Reis asked why they are going beyond the Township’s requirement of 5 spaces per thousand square feet. Mr. Honesty said it’s for marketing purposes, as that’s what the potential tenants want.
Mr. Comitta said crosswalks will be required from the new lot across the main drive, and a sidewalk must be extended from one of the crosswalks.
Mr. Allen asked about an area to the south of the building, which Mr. Camens identified as a stormwater management area. Mr. Townes said as the managers and owners in the Commons @ Great Valley, he wanted to communicate that J. Loew & Associates has had significant problems with sinkholes, and so they are concerned about any additional runoff. Mr. Camens said they’ll be able to infiltrate some of it under the new parking, and the remainder will go to the existing basin. Ms. Peck noted there are drainage problems on Phoenixville Pike in front of the site and Mr. Townes said PennDOT’s drainage pipe in front of Charlestown Paving is clogged. Mr. Townes said Glasgow Inc. also takes some of the stormwater at the northeast of the property and they recirculate it, causing some of the problems at the Commons.
Mr. Motel asked if there is high ground water along Phoenixville Pike at the northeastern edge of the property. Mr. Camens said it tapers off toward the Pike. Mr. Motel said the Planning Commission has been interested in providing for a bike/walking trail leading to Devault, and if the space could be provided it would be greatly appreciated. Mr. Honesty said he’d look at the land to see if it could be done.
Mr. Allen said he’s not inclined to waive the landscaping island requirements much and that they should best meet the requirements for office use. Mr. Kohli said the new parking will meet the ordinance, and there will be some islands added to the existing parking areas. Mr. Motel said he’s willing to compromise if the plan meets Mr. Kohli’s approval. He said again he’d like to meet on site.
Mr. Comitta said that recent parking studies have indicated that less than 5 spaces per 1,000 square feet of office use are actually needed, and suggested the applicants look at this again. Mr. Honesty said they’re not proposing to build it all on day one. Mr. Comitta said he agrees with Mr. Allen that the parking shown as overflow parking may not be needed. Mr. Honesty agrees this is the least desirable location, and if needed, it would be installed last. Mr. Churchill asked if there is any parking possible on the north side of the building, but Mr. Camens said it’s too steep.
Tim Townes of J. Loew & Associates presented a revised Sketch Plan referred to as Alternative #2 for the Tyler Griffin tract at the northeast corner of Phoenixville Pike and Charlestown Road to include a retail/commercial building and 80 townhomes. He indicated that the southwest corner at Charlestown Road and Phoenixville Pike would remain an open area reserved for PennDOT if they need an infiltration area. Mr. Reis asked if PennDOT would have to acquire a right of way, and Mr. Townes said yes. He said they may be able to work out an agreement with PennDOT to transfer the land to them in exchange for PennDOT spending more to dress it up.
Mr. Townes said there have been numerous sketches, including one by Perry Morgan last summer that didn’t quite conform to the ordinance and used some of the parameters from the retirement community sketch. This new sketch by E.B. Walsh provides more separation between the units, but maintains the same setback parameters and entrance design. Mr. Townes showed the location of the retail building on Alternative #2, and pointed out a difference in the use of the existing contours from the older plan. This sketch takes the building units and runs them along the contours to effectively use them in place of retaining walls. This allows for various unit types, including some with alleys, “English basements”, units with garages at basement level and others with garages at grade level. There is an uphill and a downhill type unit. He referenced Mr. Comitta’s review memo dated 1/7/09, item #3 which indicates there is no diversity of unit type. Mr. Townes said this would be changed. He said all units would have four parking spaces, including two garage spaces and two driveway spaces. The plan shows double the number of required guest spaces at 70 spaces. Pedestrian circulation is achieved by the sidewalks in front of all the units and the series of trails connecting to the open space areas. One trail leads down to Phoenixville Pike for a future connection to other parts of Devault.
Mr. Motel said the view from Phoenixville Pike is of the backs of the units. Mr. Townes said he wants to eliminate the long run of the alley there and turn the units to face the alley. Ms. Peck said she doesn’t feel a sense of community in the plan, although Mr. Churchill disagreed. Ms. Peck said she needs to think it through more and see more details. Mr. Motel asked if all the units are townhouses, and Mr. Townes said yes, that’s all that’s permitted in this TND Area 5 other than apartments. Mr. Churchill said he thinks there is real potential here and likes the circulation shown as it separates the private and public areas and provides the ability to get from place to place within the site. He said they got a lot out of the land. He asked if the major back alley will be relatively level, and Mr. Townes said yes. Since it runs with the contour, there’s only a four foot distance from one end to the other. Mr. Churchill asked about the distance between units facing each other from across the street, and Mr. Townes said it is 70 feet.
Mr. Motel asked for the rise in the other alleys, and Mr. Townes gave a range of 4 to 6 feet. Mr. Motel asked about the access road to Charlestown Road, and Mr. Townes said it’s out of steep slopes. Mr. Motel asked what type of retail shops are proposed, and Mr. Townes said they would be small shops, if built at all.
Mr. Motel asked if the access to Phoenixville Pike lines up with the proposed new boulevard between Whitehorse Road and Phoenixville Pike, and Mr. Townes said yes. Mr. Reis asked what the black line in the plan represents, and Mr. Townes indicated it’s a PECO easement that presently has a redundant line in use. He has been speaking with them about having it removed, which will be essential for the plan to move forward.
Ms. Peck asked if it would be possible to reverse the layouts of the top and bottom rows of the plan. Mr. Townes said he’d rather turn the lower units to the sides and dress up the sides. He said he’ll come back to address this area at a later meeting. Mr. Allen said he’d hate to look at the sides or backs of the units.
Mr. Reis asked if the access to Charlestown Road is right turn in and out only, and Mr. Townes said no, it is full function. He said the sight lines are good in that location, adding that it’s right next to the school bus yard.
Mr. Allen asked if there could be a cross section of the plan shown next time, and Mr. Townes agreed. Mr. Motel asked about the lot sizes, and Mr. Townes said it would probably be a condominium plan. Mr. Motel asked if the units would be similar in size to those in Spring Oaks, and Mr. Townes said these would be larger.
Mr. Comitta said the 70 foot distance between facing units may be too much. He said by bringing them closer, perhaps 50 feet, it creates more green space behind them. Otherwise, more landscaping is needed in the alleys.
Mr. Motel said this should proceed in a similar way as Spring Oaks, with the configuration of the buildings and the street layout settled first. Mr. Comitta said the lot lines for the green spaces should be shown. Mr. Townes agreed, and said they want to get comfortable with the street networks and unit types. Mr. Churchill said the principal problem is with the bottom road. He suggested reducing the building at bottom right from four to three units as he thinks it will be a little tight for cars to maneuver.
John Mosteller and Eric Schrock were present for further discussion on the sketch plan for the Spring Oaks TND. Mr. Allen said that this evening, they are showing the pre-final sketch plan that incorporates comments from the December meeting and some minor adjustments from the subsequent DRC meeting. They expect to present the final sketch plan at the February 10th meeting at which time they’ll be looking for a resolution of approval so they can begin the preliminary plan phase. He said he received no comments from the Planning Commission since the last meeting, and again asked that any comments or questions following this evening’s presentation be forwarded to him promptly. He said that after the engineering is done to prepare the preliminary plan, they’ll see some changes, but the fundamental site plan won’t change. Mr. Motel suggested that Dewey Homes notify the abutting landowners that the final sketch plan will be presented at the next meeting, and Mr. Mosteller said he would do so.
The revised sketch plan dated 1/13/09 was displayed for review and discussion. Mr. Allen said he wanted to address the comments from the December 9th meeting as follows.
Mr. Allen said the sketch is strictly a site plan, and landscaping elements will come later. He asked again that any comments be directed to him soon.
Ms. Peck asked if the roads will be dedicated to the township, and Mr. Kohli said only the main roads will be dedicated. They must comply with PennDOT standards to be eligible for liquid fuel funds.
Mr. Allen said a conditional use approval will be needed for construction in a high ground water area, and there will be a number of waiver requests. Mr. Schrock said they’ll need a waiver on the center line radius curvature. Mr. Kohli said it must still meet PennDOT requirements.
Mr. Churchill confirmed that the number of guest parking spaces is 216. Mr. Reis said that with a 20 foot road width, there will be problems when people park along the road in non-designated areas.
Mr. Motel said the applicants and the DRC did a fantastic job. Mr. Kuhn asked if the neighboring properties can be shown on the final sketch plan.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:07 P.M.