Changes were made to the minutes of March in relation to the Lighting Ordinance, Stormwater Basins and to further clarify development projects and locations. Mr. Allen moved to approve the March 12, 2013 minutes with approved changes and Mr. Churchill seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion, there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
John Mostoller was introduced to discuss updates to the Fillippo Residential Property in the TND, a.k.a. Spring Oak II. Last summer’s feedback by members was incorporated into a Plan for September 2012, (called the Concept Plan), and labeled with a “CP”. But following a winter tour by Supervisors and Planning Commission Members, the Township Engineer met with Mr. Mostoller regarding steep slope concerns. Now, after a meeting with the DRC, tonight’s packets contained updated pages labeled “CG” for Conceptual Grading Plan. Tonight’s packets contain pages from both CP and CG.
Item #1 on Mr. Mostoller’s stated agenda was depicted on the Aerial Site Plan (A-1) showing the Planning Commission that the Turnpike hugs the property closely at the bottom of the page. Two alleys were changed to avoid the prior Plan’s 7-7.5 % steep slope ending in a drop off near the Slip Ramp area. Also, a turnaround was added to lower the steep slope percentage.
Mr. Comitta’s response to Item 1 referenced Sec. 27- 22.03 O.1 stating that in a TND 1, the perimeter needs a 20 ft. setback, but can be as little as 5 feet if a street or alley is the perimeter. As he viewed CG-3 he thought lots #9 and #14 may be too snug to the property line and may need to be modified. He also requested more consideration of the Plan’s revisions labeling, for the ease of housekeeping.
A Hammerhead Turnaround was now depicted on CG-3 at the end of an alley, followed by a double wall. Interior slopes were lowered and the half circle on the older version (CP-2) was scaled back to lower the grading percentage now seen with the Hammerhead on CG-3.
On CP-2 an error was corrected, so the revision CG-3, depicts double walls with rails. Mr. Mostoller said the DRC felt it was more aesthetically pleasing and approved of the change. The highest wall planned is 25 ft. high (bottom of lowest wall to top of highest wall).
On the Viewshed page (referencing Sections A-A and B-B) in relation to the page labeled EX-1, Mr. Mostoller pointed out a relatively flat slope. Mr. Churchill felt the benched area on Section B-B needed a safety addition, perhaps a rail. Further cross sections of the area are forthcoming.
Exhibit C was provided to members and depicted a crosswalk and roundabout. Discussion followed by Mr. Comitta, Mr. Churchill, and Mrs. Leland regarding the pros and cons of eliminating the first parking spaces to make the walkway further away from the cars moving in the roundabout.
Item #2 on A-1 depicted recreation areas that need to be considered as far as use and coordination with existing Spring Oak basketball courts. Additional screening will also be added near the recreational area between existing homes to the north and the new houses. Also in consideration of a “one community aspect” they will be linking the name with Spring Oak in some way, so it can be recognized as an additional phase of a growing community, represented by the same HOA. Mr. Comitta handed out an updated Devault Base Plan (dated February 14, 2012) with the TND’s reflected, to make it easier for everyone present to visualize the need to coordinate amenities, etc.
Item #3 on Mr. Mostoller’s discussion list was the Construction and/or Emergency Access for the new development phase. A Construction Access was referenced using Exhibit A. Members felt a return visit and discussion with representatives of Fillippo Residential was best. The members discussed the location and suitability of an additional Emergency Access. Mr. Comitta suggested consulting Tim Hubbard, the Fire Marshall.
Lastly, Mr. Mostoller agreed to pay for one third of the excess cost over what was allocated, for the decorative poles of the Route 29 corridor.
Mr. Eli Kahn of E. Kahn Development Corporation and Mr. Tim Townes of J. Loew Associates, were present to discuss options for development of the Warner Tract located at the intersections of General Warren Boulevard and Route 29. The property of the TND-3 is almost 7 acres on the northwest corner of the entrance to the Commons at Great Valley. It is owned by J. Loew Associates. Tonight they proposed a retail complex anchored by a hotel.
A previously approved plan had been allowed to expire (a 6,800 sq. ft. office building), while the developer waited for the opening of the Turnpike Slip Ramp, and unsuccessfully attempted to find a national retail tenant as an anchor.
Current zoning that allows 30,000 sq. ft. of retail space raises a problem for the developers. Without an anchor like a grocery store, or for example a Target, Mr. Kahn said the smaller shops would turnover quickly. Plus, it is extremely difficult to fill 30,000 sq. ft. of retail space with just small shops. However, no anchors are willing to commit due to demographics such as the lack of evening traffic.
Mr. I. Clarke Blynn and Mr. Douglas C. McBrearty of Gulph Creek Development spoke next to present a concept plan for a Marriot Residence Inn, which would be a 125-room extended stay hotel, to support a proposed restaurant and provide a successful anchor for 25-30,000 sq. ft. of retail space. It is placed towards the back of the north side of the lot. It would be built to LEED Certifications Standards, include an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and outdoor courtyard with fire pit, among other amenities. The development group is based in Wayne and has been an active and successful hotel company in the Philadelphia metro area for the last 17 years. The gentlemen bring 75 years of combined experience to the high end hotel project.
Its interior design is more upscale modern than the more traditional exterior. It is supported by local office square footage and companies moving into this area willing to spend between $130-180 a night.
Member’s opinions differed in preference for modern exterior vs. a more country aesthetic. Suggestions for more plantings, crosswalks, and changing the parking layout were made. The presenters said they had a fair amount of flexibility in the exterior appearance and design of the project at this point; what they needed the most was zoning relief.
Members saw advantages with the project, such as a low failure rate, interaction style with the community, low traffic generation, tax revenues, and how it is self-supporting and takes advantage of current, not projected, development rates. Concerns centered on policing, traffic, failure consequences, sewage flow, and conflict with the yet unseen version of Fillippo Commercial.
The retail space, now easier to fill, would occupy the front street-sided portion of the site with village-style architecture consistent with TND principles. The current design would be country styled gabled shops with supporting restaurants (the hotel will only provide a breakfast buffet) and banks, etc.
Mr. Comitta’s opinion was that compared to what could be in this location, this was a special idea if; developers sweetened it by consideration of the following suggestions, and Supervisors and Commission Members considered these four points;
1 Design Aesthetics-
He is currently reviewing 6 other projects of this type in other townships, and this proposal is comparatively better because it includes “sensitivity in design”. The two developers successfully met the TND Ordinance Hotel Requirements in Exhibit B in the manual on page 27. Then again, they met the Neighborhood and Retail Buildings Requirements on page 23, by lining the hotel with retail and having open space in the center.
The developers have a nice concept, though it would be better if it had a central area for civic use as a key design element.
3 Parking Lot-
An aesthetically improved lot would strengthen this project even more.
Value Added Items-
Members commented regarding pros and cons. Mr. Churchill liked the idea of less traffic than what usually occurs within a retail district of this size. Mr. Westhafer and Mr. Churchill also recognized the need for more local choices for dining and indoor recreation. Members felt it was important to have Mr. Gambone of Fillippo Commercial discuss his updated plan with the Commission, to see how the plans compete or complement each other and the Township.
Mr. Motel talked about a future need to create a “taxing district” for a certain area, as seen in delineated locales of other townships. It would provide funding for the policing needs of the retail area merchants. Supervisor Kuhn, in attendance, would like to see a tenant/police relationship, one that does not include the Township. Mr. Townes will be forwarding information regarding these types of arrangements.
In conclusion, Mr. Kahn and Mr. Townes wanted the Township to recognize the limitation of the existing zoning for their lot. They would like to better serve their tenants in the Commons and Atwater, by not requiring them to leave to convenience shop. This project would essentially give their existing investments a boost.
Mrs. Leland closed the discussion by summarizing that more information would be received by the Planning Commission from Mr. Kahn and Mr. Townes. Mr. Kahn said the information will also include a formal Zoning Relief Request to the Commission for recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Motel raised the concern about repaving and finishing the roads vs. sewer or utility infrastructure timing. He suggested a letter to the developers encouraging them to finish their sewer utility work ahead of time, before the road is closed by paving. Mr. Wright stated there are available tie-ins waiting for developmental hookup. Directional boring for the applicant at their expense is also an option. Historically, PECO has been proactive, and the gas and water are already installed. Mr. Wright said anticipating this coordination was second to anticipating the flow from the TND’s.
Mrs. Leland made a motion to adjourn the meeting and Mr. Richter seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion, there being none, adjourned the meeting at 10:40 p.m. The Planning Commission’s next scheduled meeting is May 14, 2013 at the Great Valley Middle School Choral Room at 7:30 p.m.