TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2009 - draft 11/11/09


Andy Motel, Chairman, Mike Allen, Vice Chairman, June Gorman, Rick Reis, Michael Churchill, Sarah Peck (arrived later), Wendy Leland (arrived later), Surender Kohli, P.E., Tom Comitta, Ed Theurkauf, Linda Csete, and those on the attached list.

Call to Order:

7:30 P.M..


Mrs. Csete announced that the official township website went live yesterday and can be accessed at

Citizens Forum

No matters were brought forward at this time.

Approval of Minutes

October 27, 2009 Minutes

Mr. Allen moved to approve the October 27, 2009 minutes and Mrs. Gorman seconded. Mr. Allen said he had a slight change to p. 7 that he’ll email to the Secretary. With this change, Mr. Motel called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. Five were in favor.


Holy Ascension Antiochian Orthodox Church Final Land Development Plan

Mr. Motel recused himself from this application. Wendy McLean, Esq., Dave Porter, E.I.T. of Rettew Associates, and Father Joseph Butts of the Holy Ascension Church were present to discuss the final land development plan dated 9/22/09 for the construction of a church on the north side of Phoenixville Pike.

Ms. McLean said all the landscaping issues have been resolved, although they are requesting waivers from the Board of Supervisors on tree replacement and species selection and location as noted on Mr. Theurkauf’s review letter dated 10/19/09. She said some adjustments were made due to a change in the building size, although the stormwater management calculations remain essentially the same. The architectural changes don’t affect anything from a planning standpoint.

Mr. Allen asked to confirm that the drawing dated 9/22/09 is the latest revision, and Ms. McLean said yes.

Mr. Allen asked Ms. McLean to address comments on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated November 3, 2009. She said all issues have been resolved, including review of the abbreviated EIA report, which was deferred to Mr. Comitta. Other notes are as follows:

Mr. Allen asked the Planning Commission members to address the landscape waivers requested. Mr. Theurkauf said he believes they met the intent if not the letter of the ordinance and no issues were raised.

(Mrs. Leland arrived at this time.)

Mrs. Gorman asked about the Chester County Planning Commission comment #9 on their review letter dated 10/28/09 recommending oil/water separators at the catch basins leading to the stormwater management facilities. Mr. Porter said they do have a separator to keep oil out of the seepage bed, and Mr. Kohli agreed this is standard procedure.

Mr. Churchill asked if there would be a steeple on the church, and Mrs. McLean said there would be a dome.

Mrs. Gorman asked if there was any signage proposed for review, and Mrs. McLean said no, signage hasn’t been designed yet.

Mr. Allen asked if the Fire Marshal had any response to item #12 on the County Planning Commission review letter regarding verification of the proposed design and location of fire fighting facilities, and Mrs. Csete responded nothing had been received from Mr. Alston.

Mr. Churchill moved to recommend final approval to the Holy Ascension Antiochian Orthodox Church for the plan last revised 9/22/09 to construct a new church on Phoenixville Pike, subject to the comments in Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 11/3/09 and Mr. Theurkauf’s letter dated 10/19/09. Mr. Reis seconded. Mr. Motel called for further discussion, and there being none, called the vote. Five were in favor; Mr. Motel did not vote.

Ms. McLean said they plan to put the project out to bid in the near future.

Phoenixville Regional Planning Commission Consistency Review Report

Mr. Reis explained that the final Consistency Review Report submitted for the Phoenixville Regional Planning Commission (PRPC) by their planners at Kise, Straw & Kolodner includes consistency recommendations for the individual municipalities and proposes two amendments to the Regional Comprehensive Plan. A recommendation is needed from the Planning Commission before the Supervisors’ hearing to adopt the report at their 12/7/09 meeting.

Mr. Motel said Mr. Comitta circulated a review memorandum on the report dated 11/6/09. Mr. Reis said the memo noted that the Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) in Charlestown wasn’t included in the Regional Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Reis said this was due to timing issues. Mr. Motel asked Mr. Reis if this is significant, and he said no. Mr. Allen added that the PRPC has reviewed the TND since this draft was prepared. Mr. Motel said item #3 on Mr. Comitta’s letter indicates the PRPC wanted higher density in the NC-2 District, but noted this is now included in TND Area 3. He said he’d clarify this comment with Mr. Comitta later.

Mr. Reis said the two changes proposed in the plan relate to impervious surface coverage and buffering from natural resources. Both changes were made so all member municipalities fall within the range stated and are now generally consistent.

Mr. Motel moved to recommend adoption of the final Consistency Review Report of the Phoenixville Regional Planning Commission Comprehensive Plan and to modify the Plan as specified, subject to his clarification of Mr. Comitta’s comment #3, and Mr. Reis seconded. Mr. Motel called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

(Ms. Peck arrived at this time.)

Supervisor Mike Rodgers asked for an update on East Vincent Township’s withdrawal from the PRPC, and Mr. Reis said this would be discussed at the December 9th PRPC meeting.

Stormwater Management Ordinance Amendment

Mr. Motel said he’s impressed with the work done by subcommittee members Michael Churchill and Sarah Peck, who worked on amendments to the Stormwater Management Ordinance with Mr. Theurkauf.

Mr. Theurkauf said they revised sections 302.E. 1 through 6 to address land use compatibility and long term maintenance needs. It removes the requirement that all stormwater systems be underground and would allow the Township and applicant to choose the best basin design for the application. Mr. Churchill said they felt if the Township demanded enough quality from whatever type basin is selected, the ordinance didn’t need to specify the type, rather the applicant would be allowed some choice, presuming conditions warrant it. The new language calls for the applicant to demonstrate optimization of the water discharge quality as well as quantity of recharge, calls for efficient land use and addresses environmental and visual compatibility. Ms. Peck said efficient land use relates to making additional uses on or within the facility available, and this could include use as an animal habitat. She thought this should be more explicit in the language. The Planning Commission agreed to add the following sentence to 302.E.1.c.: “A natural habitat or passive recreation would be considered acceptable uses.”

Mr. Churchill explained the amendments to 302.E. 3 & 4, with item #3 requiring surface basins to be designed in accordance with a design manual and #4 specifying slope restrictions. Mr. Theurkauf said relocating the language in #4 was done to give it more prominence within the ordinance. Mrs. Gorman asked about 4.a, which says a 4:1 slope is the maximum but 6.g. allows for lattice blocks when slopes exceed this. Mr. Churchill said they didn’t examine #6.g. but left that to the engineers. Mr. Theurkauf said 6.g. refers to spillways, which can be designed differently than basins. Mr. Kohli confirmed it’s not inconsistent with #4.a.

Mr. Churchill indicates E.5 includes the requirement for a narrative statement to address compliance with 302.E.1, which Mr. Motel said was a good addition.

Mr. Kohli said clarification is needed in 302.E.6.h regarding measuring the minimum distance between a building or structure and a basin. The language was changed from “…30 feet measured from the outside face of the building or structure to the elevation center point of the top of the berm of the basin” to “…”30 feet measured from the outside face of the building or structure to the outermost elevation from the top of the berm of the basin.”

Ms. Peck suggested adding a picture to the design manual depicting an example of a veneer for end wall facing, such as fieldstone. Mr. Theurkauf said he’d see what he could come up with. Mr. Motel referred to a design at the Ashwood subdivision as a good example of this.

(Mr. Comitta arrived at this time.)

Mr. Allen asked why 302.E.6.i was changed from 50 to 20 feet for the minimum distance between any grading or structure relating to a basin and the property line or street ROW. Mr. Theurkauf said the Zoning Ordinance requires a 20-foot setback for accessory structures and wanted to make this consistent. No aspect of grading for the basin may be within that 20 feet. Mr. Allen was concerned about minimizing the visual impact of the basin. Mr. Churchill said the 50 foot distance was measured from the middle of the basin, whereas the 20 feet is measured from the edge, so it’s not necessarily a smaller setback.

Mr. Allen asked if the subcommittee considered Mrs. Csete’s suggestion for a design review group to review stormwater designs other than underground systems. Ms. Peck said they discussed it but determined it would add another layer of bureaucracy and cost the applicant more in terms of time and money. Mr. Motel asked what the procedure for review will be. Ms. Peck said it would be the same as for any other land planning review, which goes through the Planning Commission, Planner and Engineer for recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for approval. Mr. Motel asked if they didn’t think a committee would help this process, and Ms. Peck said they didn’t feel it would be effective or productive. Bill Davison asked if this would mean the development of a single lot would trigger a requirement to go to the Planning Commission. As it stands, only Mr. Kohli reviews this type of application. Mr. Kohli said that under the current system, land disturbance under a certain size doesn’t go to the Planning Commission, but with these revisions, he’ll have to refer the applicant to the Planning Commission and possibly the Planner if he sees there are issues.

Mr. Motel asked Mr. Kohli for his comments on the proposed amendment, and he said it gives the Township a little more control in getting the design they want, but he noted he still has to review the details. He said providing the applicant with choices other than underground systems will have them turning to the alternative designs.

Mr. Motel said he’s happy with the work done by the subcommittee on this ordinance.

Mr. Churchill moved to recommend the proposed amendment to the Stormwater Management Ordinance to the Board of Supervisors subject to the two changes made this evening and to Mr. Kohli’s review. Further, if that review brings up substantive issues, the Planning Commission will withdraw this recommendation and revisit the matter at their December 8th meeting. Mrs. Leland seconded. Mr. Motel called for further discussion, and their being none, called the vote. Six were in favor; Mr. Allen was opposed.

Mr. Allen said the amendment takes an interesting approach but he thinks it’s extremely soft and vague without objective standards, allowing the applicant to basically do whatever they want. He said this could be self-defeating and he has a problem with the ordinance in general. Mr. Motel said the amendment provides enough interpretation for the Board of Supervisors so they can make the final determination. He confirmed with Mr. Kohli that this is a stand-alone ordinance and is also an appendix item in the SLDO.

Ms. Peck said the ordinance has enough teeth, noting that the requirement of a maximum basin slope of 4:1 is already a huge improvement, and there will be an entire appendix of visual examples. Mr. Motel noted this is a similar approach as that taken by the TND. Mr. Allen said some of the examples of above ground basins in the TND are uninspiring in shape and contour, and he’s concerned this ordinance is structured similarly and won’t provide for the change the Planning Commission wants. Mr. Churchill said Section 302.E. states best management practices are required and that a Charlestown design manual must be followed. He said he’s willing to tighten the language more but asked for suggestions. Mr. Motel said the vote has been taken and that the matter has been discussed enough.

Wind and Solar Energy Ordinance

Mr. Comitta introduced guest speaker Max Frable, to whom he sent the chart prepared by Ms. Peck on wind and solar energy standards along with copies of ordinances from East Whiteland and Edgemont Townships.

Wind Energy

Mr. Frable said he is an architect with Penn Real Estate, which became interested in renewable energy options about six years ago and has installed solar and wind farms both in the U.S. and internationally. He noted his experience is primarily with larger scale operations, but he offered to field questions this evening and get back to the Planning Commission on those he would need to research.

Mr. Motel asked if wind energy systems are viable in the Philadelphia suburbs. Mr. Frable said wind systems are very different from the more predictable solar energy systems, requiring a long-term detailed study to determine their effect with any accuracy. Generally, a wind system will not be a money saver, considering that trees are often in the way. However, some sites are more feasible, and tax credits are presently available. He noted that an individual property owner interested in this type of system might have priorities other than just cost savings.

Mr. Frable said it’s difficult to predict the amount of power a wind energy system will produce and therefore, when the break-even point and payoff will be. Height is critical to this type of system, and going higher is the single largest determinant of how much power can be generated.

Mr. Motel asked if there is any legislation pending or likely to be proposed that will create a federal mandate. Mr. Frable said his understanding is that at most, this would be a decision at the state level, not federal. He said in New Jersey, the state has allowed wind systems as a by-right use in all industrial zoning districts.

Mr. Churchill said the Planning Commission is familiar with the visual impact of a wind system, but asked about other impacts such as noise and turbulence. Mr. Frable said this is very subjective. He said the blades on the wind systems work by lift, similar to an airplane wing, noting that people are often surprised that they don’t need to spin fast to be effective. He added that the smaller scale systems have a greater variety of turbine design options available.

Mr. Churchill asked about noise. Mr. Frable said they all produce some noise and the decibel levels will be in the manufacturer specifications. The transformer itself, along with the wind, produce the noise, and that distance, rather than a buffer of any sort, is the best barrier to noise. Ms. Peck said East Whiteland’s ordinance specified a dB level of 55 at the property line and 50 from any structure. She noted conversational speech is generally at 60 dB. Mr. Frable said that wind turbines have advanced since the early 1980’s in California where there were many problems. He said those systems were more like egg beaters and were known to kill birds. Many people are under the impression this is still true today, not taking improvements into consideration. He said overseas there have been the greatest advances, noting that in Germany, for example, solar panels are required on all new buildings. He recommended that a proposed ordinance should set the noise limit at the property line, and suggested asking manufacturers for the wind speed of their equipment versus sound output.

Mr. Comitta asked if anything in Ms. Peck’s chart stands out. Mr. Frable said there are references to “wind mills” that technically should be called wind turbines, wind power generators (wpg) or wind energy facilities. Also, standards for power capacity should be more flexible. As technology advances, efficiency increases for the same size machine. He recommended limiting the machine by height, using the overall hub height plus ½ of the rotor diameter. He encouraged the Planning Commission to allow as high a structure as they’re comfortable with, noting that he thinks 45 feet is much too low and wouldn’t generate enough power.

Mr. Motel asked about wind farms, and Mr. Frable said they could provide a steady income to property owners, still keeping the land available for farming because they use only 3% of the land. Mr. Churchill asked if they are compatible with grazing animals, and Mr. Frable said yes.

Mr. Motel asked what size pad a 45-foot tower would need, and Mr. Frable said it depends on whether the structure is a lattice or monopole. A lattice would need a pad similar to that for a small radio tower. A monopole may need nothing other than guy wires. Mr. Motel asked if there’s any danger to the public because of the electricity generation. Mr. Frable said they’re more of a climbing hazard, and he recommends a height of at least 12 feet before a permanent ladder can be accessed.

Mr. Allen asked if a single turbine system is practical, and Mr. Frable said undergoing a long term study of at least one year would be the only way to be sure.

Solar Energy

Mr. Frable said solar energy systems could be either rooftop mounted or pole mounted in the yard, with an unobstructed path to the sun being most critical. He said his firm’s German based solar panel manufacturer has indicated that even if the only obstruction to the sun is a chain-link fence, 25% of the solar power is lost.

Mr. Motel asked what the roof mounted systems look like from a distance, and Mr. Reis, who has a system, said it’s not that noticeable. For ground mounted systems, Mr. Frable said a typical panel is 4 x 5 feet, with an array containing a set number of panels, most with a reflective surface. The panels are angled to a degree perpendicular to the sun’s rays for maximum benefit. Typically in this area, they’re mounted at 25-30 degrees. Mr. Motel asked how this translates on a 12-pitch roof, and Mr. Frable said it would be about 45 degrees and would probably be mounted at that angle to remain close to the structure. Ms. Peck asked if this is something the ordinance should require, and Mr. Frable said it depends on the Township’s goals

Mr. Frable said some considerations for a roof mounted system involve the age and integrity of the roof, as people have to consider the cost of dismantling the system for a roof replacement and the fact that the system is offline while this work is done. An advantage of a roof mounted system is usually there is a direct path to the sun’s rays. For ground mounted systems, an advantage is that the panel angle can be adjusted. Some more advanced systems have a tracking capability, and he’s seen an artistic design that rotates and angles itself and closes at night like a flower.

Mr. Motel asked where the Planning Commission might go to see these systems. Eric Schrock of Dewey Homes said they have models in Limerick and Coatesville, and Mr. Motel asked if he could provide the addresses. Supervisor Kevin Kuhn said there’s a small system at the Community Supported Agriculture farm on Charlestown Road.

Mr. Churchill asked if the Township should regulate the storage systems. Mr. Frable said the wind turbines use an Alternating Current generator, but solar uses Direct Current that must be converted. This conversion causes a loss of power of 10-15%, so wind power is more storable. Mr. Churchill asked if storage can cause safety problems, and Mr. Frable said yes. All these systems use batteries, which are most likely regulated by the National Electric Code (NEC). He noted that if an individual is selling power back to the grid, the utility, for example PECO in this area, would have its own specifications.

Mr. Motel asked Mr. Frable if he’s aware of any ordinances on alternative power that seem fair, and Mr. Frable offered to do research and get back to the Planning Commission. Mr. Motel said that with the wind systems, they’re mainly concerned with height, visibility, safety, off-site impacts, and most appropriate locations. With regard to solar power, they’re concerned with the safety of power storage and the question of how to regulate both roof and yard structures. Mr. Engelhardt of Langan Engineers offered to provide some information on wind turbines to the Planning Commission.

Mr. Motel thanked Mr. Frable for attending the meeting and providing his expertise.

Spring Oak Conditional Use Application

John Mosteller and Eric Schrock from Dewey Homes and Jason Engelhardt, P.E., from Langan Engineers were present to review the conditional use approvals being sought for the Spring Oak Preliminary Subdivision Plan.

With regard to the proposed changes to the TND ordinance relating to Spring Oak, Mr. Allen said that in the future the DRC will keep a running list and track the changes to be made.

Mr. Motel said he attended the 11/2/09 DRC meeting, which was 4 hours long for Spring Oak alone. Previous to that meeting, 2 hours were spent on Tyler Griffin. He said there’s a tremendous amount of discussion that takes place and that the DRC would have a difficult time summarizing these lengthy meetings to the Planning Commission. That group was set up so it could take this extra time to deal with the details, informing the Planning Commission as needed. He encouraged the PC members to attend the DRC meetings, if not all, then at least from time to time or at a minimum to read the minutes of the meetings generated by Tom Comitta’s office.

Mrs. Leland asked when DRC meetings are scheduled, and Mr. Allen said the first Monday of the month. He added that the PC members receive all the minutes from those meetings. He said he reports all issues brought up at the DRC meetings to the PC and highlights the changes to be requested in the TND ordinance that result from the discussions.

Mr. Allen said that for the Spring Oak review, ½ size plan sheets were distributed. For the next revision, the Dewey group would like to know which size everyone wants, noting he requested a ¾ size plan and prefers it. Ms. Peck said she likes the ½ size.

Mr. Allen asked the applicant to address the conditional use approvals needed for Spring Oak, which include approval for construction in steep slopes and in high ground water areas. Mr. Engelhardt began with the high ground water areas, noting that he met with Mr. Kohli and covered some of the issues. He read a portion of the definition of high ground water area from the Zoning Ordinance and said the Ordinance relies on soil mapping, which sometimes varies from actual conditions. Therefore, there are areas shown on the plans that are included in the conditional use approval request that may not actually be in high ground water areas but must be included to comply with the ordinance.

Mr. Engelhardt showed the high ground water areas, primarily nearest Whitehorse Road. He displayed Existing Condition Plan #03.00 and Conditional Use Plan G-1. G-1 shows the location of various test pits, with elevation numbers listed for where evidence of soil mottling was found. The mottling represents the highest elevation for seasonal high ground water. This could be the highest elevation water reached over many years. The number in parenthesis shows the elevation actual water was found.

Mr. Schrock said they wouldn’t be excavating in these areas except for basements. Plans for two of the basements need to be adjusted as a result of the testing. Mr. Engelhardt said the Zoning Ordinance requires that mottling be a minimum of two feet lower than any building or structure. This isn’t a problem for the construction of the roads in these high ground water areas, just the basements. Ms. Peck asked if sump pumps can be installed in the basements, and Mr. Engelhardt said most of the houses have them anyway, but Mr. Kohli said a sump pump can’t be used to continually recirculate water. Mr. Engelhardt said this wouldn’t happen, as the lowest elevation of the house would be two feet above the seasonal high ground watermark. He said he’d provide additional information to Mr. Kohli for further review.

Mr. Churchill asked what if the ground water level worsens in the future. Mr. Engelhardt referred him to Zoning Ordinance section 1103.B.2., which describes how the mottling is measured. That mark represents the highest ground water has ever been found. Mr. Motel asked how test pits #4 and #6, which are close to one another, have a difference of 4 feet in the elevation mark. Mr. Engelhardt said this is due to a change in the surface grade, not a marked change in the ground water level. Mr. Schrock stated there would be fill brought into this entire area. Mr. Motel asked where it would come from, and Mr. Engelhardt said it would be moved from other parts of the site, with no cuts & fill above 5 to 6 feet.

Mr. Churchill and Mrs. Leland questioned whether to permit houses in the high ground water areas at all. Mrs. Leland said she wanted to see Mr. Kohli’s review before considering it further. Mr. Schrock said a conditional use approval would still be needed to construct the road. Mr. Motel said this issue will be addressed at the November 30th meeting after Mr. Kohli has an opportunity to review it and provide comments.

Mr. Engelhardt then addressed the conditional use approvals being sought for four areas of steep slopes. Mr. Schrock distributed Slope Delineation Plan #03.01. He indicated there are no expansive areas of steep slopes, only small areas spread out over the site. Areas of very steep slopes are not being disturbed. Conditional Use approval is needed for grading and to construct stormwater facilities in the areas of steep slope ranging from 15-25%. The following 4 areas were reviewed and discussed:

Area 1:   Mr. Schrock said since trails are permitted in steep slopes, and this is the only proposed use here, no conditional use approval is needed for Area 1.

Area 2:   Mr. Schrock said they propose to disturb about 2,300 sq. ft. for road grading and to provide drainage from approximately 15 acres of an area across Rees Road that needs to go through the Spring Oak system. None of the road grade will be over 8%, and the ordinance permits 10%. Mr. Kohli asked for the slope of the stormwater basin, and Mr. Engelhardt said it would be 3:1, with permanent erosion control matting to be installed. This would be a requirement from the Chester County Conservation District. He noted they would be cutting into the wood line to a small degree. Mr. Kohli was concerned that the basin will be close to the back of several homes, and Mr. Schrock said it would be a distance of 25 feet. Mr. Kohli said a retaining wall might be needed to provide more backyard room. Mr. Allen said a retaining wall might be a good solution, noting that his primary concern was the severity of the grading. Mr. Schrock said the house footprints shown are the maximum size in the development and they may be smaller than that. Mr. Comitta said he’d like to avoid the situation where the homeowner puts in a retaining wall to expand the use of the backyard. Ms. Peck asked if more tree removal should be considered, which would allow for a gentler slope. Mr. Allen said that might be a compromise, as trees can be replaced. Some trees can be sacrificed for a better design. Mr. Comitta said that a condition of approval could be to require smaller houses in this area, although Ms. Peck said she’d rather have more tree removal. Mr. Schrock said he’d consider these as review comments and make a modification to the plan.

Area 3:   Mr. Kohli noted this is a small area and he sees no problem with the area of disturbance, which Mr. Schrock noted is about 450 sq. ft.

Area 4:   Mr. Schrock showed that about half this area will be disturbed in order to include the trail, which connects to the upper playing field. Ms. Peck asked if this area would have to be disturbed if not for the trail, and Mr. Engelhardt said it’s also needed for the secondary road connection and alignment to Blackstone Lane. Mr. Allen said the steepness of the trail shouldn’t be of too much concern, although Mr. Engelhard said they’d have to grade its sides regardless, and there would be an undesirable degree of cross-slope without some grading. Mr. Churchill asked for the elevation difference from the front to back of Unit 173, and Mr. Engelhardt said about 20 feet. Mr. Motel said he’d like to minimize the grading work being done just for the trail. Mr. Schrock said they could lower the elevations of units 174 & 175, which would help do this.

A recommendation for approval was discussed. Mr. Churchill said he’d like to see what adjustments could be made to Area 2.

Mr. Motel moved to recommend conditional use approval for steep slope areas 1, 3 & 4 subject to a good faith effort to reduce the disturbance in Area 4 for construction of the trail, and with the understanding a decision on Area 2 will be deferred to the November 30th meeting when the applicant can show their proposed design improvements. Mr. Reis seconded the motion. Mr. Motel called for further discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

TND Ordinance Amendments

Mr. Allen said that only the sidewalk issue would be addressed this evening, continuing discussion on whether to recommend a waiver to allow a sidewalk width of 4’6” rather than the 5’ width required by the TND ordinance. Mr. Motel said that since the last discussion on October 27th, the commission members have made field trips to look at various sidewalks to better understand the impact of any change.

Mr. Schrock said one reason for the change came from discussions in the DRC where they wanted to work with an even footage number, and determined they wanted 6” additional for the grass strip. He said Mr. Frens calculated that the change would decrease the impervious coverage of the sidewalks by 10% and that the difference in walkability is miniscule. The additional 6” would be the equivalent of paving over an entire building lot in this development.

Ms. Peck agreed that two people can fit walking side by side on the 4’6” sidewalk, but it’s more comfortable to turn and talk on a 5’ sidewalk. Mr. Allen said he went to West Chester and Downingtown and felt that either width works. He said the 4’6” width was comfortable. He noted that earlier on a walking tour in West Chester, he, Mr. Philips and Mr. Frens were walking in the area and he didn’t note any problem with the smaller width. He feels the preference is highly subjective. Mrs. Gorman said she felt a huge difference between the two widths, and Mr. Reis agreed. Mr. Allen said he grew up in an area with 3 and 4 foot sidewalks and it didn’t restrict any of the typical activities expected on them. Mrs. Leland said she preferred the 4’6” width, saying it’s more intimate and perfectly fine for this size community. Mr. Churchill said it’s hard to determine, although he finds the smaller width acceptable for himself.

Ms. Peck said developers in the other TND areas will be looking for the same waiver approval. Mrs. Gorman asked for confirmation that all of the sidewalks in Spring Oak would be the same width if it were reduced, and Mr. Allen said yes.

Mr. Motel asked if the cost difference is very large, and Mr. Schrock said no.

Mr. Comitta said there were two reasons he proposed the reduced width. First, there are alternate walking areas including the alleys, streets and trails. Second, the wider width is needed more in areas such as TND Area 2 where people are strolling to and from the shops creating origin and destination points. Also, there’s higher usage in those settings. Ms. Peck asked if the smaller width would be considered for the Tyler Griffin tract, and Mr. Comitta responded it probably could be. Ms. Peck said the wider sidewalk would encourage more use psychologically. Mr. Schrock noted there’s also the 8-foot walking trail around the perimeter of the development.

Mr. Motel said he sees the merits in both widths and the reasoning behind the selections, but favors the smaller width in consideration of the fact that the DRC members and consultants Tom Comitta and Dale Frens are recommending it based upon very thorough discussion and analysis and noting their experience in these matters. Ms. Peck asked if the applicant hadn’t requested the waiver, would the committee have considered it? She didn’t think the change should be made simply as an engineering convenience for them. Mr. Allen said the change came up through the course of many conversations in the committee and that it wasn’t specifically requested by the applicant. Supervisor Mike Rodgers said he felt they should stay with the 5’ width now required in the ordinance.

Mr. Motel called for a vote on recommending the waiver to allow a sidewalk width of 4’6” at Spring Oak. Mr. Motel, Mr. Allen, Mrs. Leland, Mr. Churchill and Ms. Peck were in favor. Mrs. Gorman and Mr. Reis were opposed.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:15 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Planning Commission Secretary