Planning Commission: Wendy Leland, Chair, Bill Westhafer, Vice Chairman, Michael Allen, Michael Churchill, Andy Motel, Michael Richter and Andre von Hoyer.
Consultants: Daniel Wright, P.E., Dale Frens, and Thomas Comitta.
Staff: Linda Csete, Township Manager, Lisa Gardner, Recording Secretary
Public: See Attached List
Mrs. Csete announced that the Township’s Earth Day event is scheduled for this Saturday, April 26th beginning at 9 a.m. Volunteers are invited to meet at the Township Office for continental breakfast fare and to pick up supplies.
Mrs. Leland reminded everyone that Primary Election Day is May 20th.
Mrs. Leland said she and Mr. Richter attended a presentation by the publisher of In-Community Magazine that could be utilized at no cost to the Township. It would cover the municipalities included in the Great Valley School District. She presented the information to the Supervisors at their April 7th meeting for consideration.
Mrs. Csete announced that a Devault Trail Feasibility Public Meeting will be held on May 12th to discuss the possibility of linking Phoenixville with Devault via the existing rail line. Handouts are available tonight and more information can be found on the website.
A community shredding event will be held May 3rd at the CAT Pickering Campus in Phoenixville, from 8 a.m. to noon. Flyers are available.
Mr. Motel moved to approve the March 11, 2014 minutes with minor changes, and Mr. von Hoyer seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion, there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Fronefield Crawford Esq., Mr. Lance Altemose, Mrs. Carol Altemose, and Mr. Andrew Eberwein, P.E. of E.B. Walsh & Associates Inc. were present to discuss a further revised Preliminary Subdivision Plan dated February 23, 2014 for 19 lots on 58 acres at Whitehorse and Ashenfelter Roads. They were seeking a Preliminary Plan recommendation tonight.
Mr. Crawford addressed an important change since the last appearance before the Planning Commission. The previous submission dated January 27, 2014 proposed extraction of Parcel 35-5-1.20 from the Homestead Lot. The proposal raised concerns pertaining to the historical and physical integrity of the Homestead Lot, and the provisions for future site access.
Tonight, the submission does not include the extraction and items specific to this are considered resolved.
Mr. Crawford continued with comments to items from Mr. Comitta’s letter dated April 16, 2014 pertaining to the February 2014 plan.
Item 1.A – Mr. Crawford told Members the last paragraph of 1.A spells out how the Open Space is on the Plan. He said the Ordinance does not require the Altemoses to provide more Open Space than is shown in “Open Space A”. Although Mr. Allen said that it did not conform to the Ordinance requirements, Mr. Crawford said it was a compromise, he said this was how they answered the Township’s desire for larger size homes with fewer lots vs. smaller sized homes on more lots.
Item 2.B & 2.D – on Exhibit PC-3 the homes on Lots 18 & 19 became parallel once Mr. Eberwein tried to emulate Mr. Comitta’s suggestion. When he had adjusted them in regards to terrain, there was very little privacy, view, or backyard. Mr. Motel asked if the sand mounds were one of the reasons Mr. Eberwein could not comply with PC-3. Mr. Eberwein said they were one of the placement factors, but the systems will be drip, even though he must show mounds. But, the drip systems (and the required backup systems) will be in the same spot as the mounds.
Mr. Comitta handed out Exhibit PC-3 dated February 4, 2013 showing his suggestions in red. He told Members that the Board will need to consider the revisions to PC-3, since the Commission can only recommend. Mr. Crawford wants the Township to see their current portrayal of Lot 18 as the best solution.
Item 2.F – Mr. Crawford said the Trail (offset) shall be extended southward along Ashenfelter Road to be in line with the southern border of Lot 12 but will stop prior to encroaching on critical environmental areas designated on the Plan.
Item 6.A – Mr. Crawford proposed a trail within an easement that is maintained by the HOA at both ends. Mr. Allen was concerned that Lot 20 had no protection if not maintained, or if the Homestead Lot has a Change of Use. Mr. Eberwein disagreed and felt it was best as a portion of Lot 20. Mr. Motel also didn’t like the Open Space strip set aside; Mr. Churchill reminded Members that ownership is the real key to the trail issue.
Item 8.A – Mr. Crawford said for safety and health concerns they will ask the Board of Supervisors for public water. They are not proposing any wells, and therefore are not performing any water testing at this time.
Item 14 – Mr. Crawford maintained that the development is not part of the TND, therefore it is not under Township DRC jurisdiction. Aesthetics are not supported in the Ordinance for non-TND properties. Mr. Comitta said he had talked to the Township Solicitor about this topic, and Mr. Thompson had no information since he had no HOA documents to review yet. The Township also needs to review the HOA documents for accessory structures, plant removal, and replacement. If the design aesthetics for Whitehorse Estates are not acceptable, they can be upgraded and folded into the HOA documents. Then the developer can finalize them after reviewing them with the builder. Mr. Comitta said paragraph 4 of page 9 should read “These Design Standards should be reviewed by Dale Frens, AIA, Consultant to the Historical Commission, etc.” deleting the phrase “the Design Review Committee and.”
Mr. Allen was concerned about the appearance of the rear of the homes, and wanted a more harmonious look, and Mr. Crawford said they welcomed Township recommendations. Mr. Frens said there was no Township standard for what would be visible from the road and Mr. Motel said there was no legal ground for this. Mr. Churchill reminded Members that this is why there are buffers; buffers are what are seen from the road. Mr. Altemose said he certainly wanted to build nice homes for an estimated price over $800,000, but Mr. Allen reminded him, that if he sold his home, the Township wanted controls in place.
Mr. Westhafer told the applicants that this was one of the reasons why the Township requested site sections. When checking the elevations, they will find they are not effectively screening/buffering due to the slope of the land. The Township must have vertical info or visual exhibits.
Mr. Wright commented on his review letter dated April 16, 2014.
Item #4 - Mr. Eberwein had provided property deeds for review. There are 3 potential encumbrances that may affect the Plan; these easements need to be defined. (House-keeping change a. to read Parcel 35-5-1.2)
Item # 6 - Also, on the title page of the Plan the phrase “All sand mound systems proposed by the plan shall be replaced with drip systems” must be added.
Item # 13 – Detail is needed for the vein grate proposed for Inlet 9.
Item # 15 - For calculation reasons the proposed extracted Parcel 35-5-1.2 has been added back in. (House-keeping change “Parcel 45-5-1.2” to read Parcel 35-5-1.2).
Item # 4 – Mr. Motel wanted firmer wording regarding single and separate ownership by the same landowner. Mr. Thompson will check the language to prevent future problems.
Mr. von Hoyer supported Mr. Westhafer’s comments regarding buffers/site sections and Mr. Eberwein again said they would comply with that request. Mr. von Hoyer asked if the applicant had a back-up plan if the Board did not allow public water, and they do. The PC Members are to receive a copy of the February 19 revised Plans, including sheet 3A and landscape plans. Sheet 1, # 11 says 3 residences and should say 4, and the light needs to be removed from the Plan at Ashenfelter Road.
The strip of land between Lot 7 and Lot 8 still needed controls so that the 2 lots do not get impacted by something done by Lot 20. Restrictive language or ownership by Lot 7 or Lot 8 was discussed. Language will be added to the Plan regarding a future Change of Use for Lot 20.
Mrs. Leland moved to recommend Preliminary Approval to the Board of Supervisors with
Mr. Richter seconded, Mrs. Leland called for discussion, and there was none. Mr. Westhafer and Mr. Churchill were in favor, and Mr. Allen, Mr. Motel, and Mr. von Hoyer were opposed.
Mr. Motel moved to amend the motion that the Preliminary Approval was subject to Mr. Thompson providing language restricting the change of use from single family home for Lot 20, and Mr. von Hoyer seconded. Mr. Leland called for discussion, and there was none. All were in favor.
Mr. Allen moved to required part of Lot 20 to be community Open Space and Mr. Motel seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion, and there was none. Mr. Westhafer and Mr. Churchill were in favor; Mrs. Leland and Mr. Richter were opposed.
John Mostoller, and Jason Engelhardt, P.E. of Langan Engineers, were present for review of the Preliminary Subdivision Plan and Conditional Use Plan both dated January 10, 2014 for Devault Village at Spring Oak. They propose a mix of 72 single family dwellings, twins and townhouses on 26 acres in the TND-1 overlay of the RC Zoning District.
Mr. Mostoller gave a brief update, then Mr. Engelhardt addressed Members using Aerial Site Plan A-1. He began by addressing Item 4.A on Mr. Comitta’s review letter dated February 7, 2014 regarding Active Recreation. Mrs. Leland asked about buffering the cell tower. Mr. Mostoller said they had already started, next was to measure the surrounding electromagnetic field. Mr. Mostoller was pleased to add that the sound study had returned with “below baseline” results.
Mr. Comitta discussed a hand-out previously distributed at the most recent DRC Meeting. His review letter mainly dealt with Open Space. The Langan Open Space Concept drawings portrayed the village green, trail network amenities, a tot lot, mailbox area, a multi-purpose field, and room for future additional parking. The half-acre field usage was discussed, and Mr. Engelhardt answered questions regarding grading (5.5-6%) and terracing.
Mr. von Hoyer suggested the unofficial dog park be enlarged and Mr. Mostoller said there would be dog waste systems along the trail. Members discussed “sense of arrival” with Mr. Comitta and the applicants. Mr. Engelhardt will revise the hand-outs perhaps rearranging the hardscape and amenities to give a better “sense of arrival”. Mr. Churchill suggested water accessibility. Mr. Westhafer verified that the lowest corner of the north-south loop road had been given a stop sign and a crosswalk.
Mr. Engelhardt said they needed Mr. Thompson to check on some Conditional Use items but would definitely need Conditional Use Approval for steep slope disturbance. They will return with the next revision containing all DRC comments and tonight’s suggestions, and hope for May Conditional Use approval recommendations.
Mr. Allen requested the opinions of fellow PC Members to help him better navigate the DRC and prepare for the decisions that are coming before that committee. He is confident in the help Mr. Frens has given the Township with interpreting the architectural design part. Though the TND Ordinance and Design Manual are the standard for minor requests and decisions, significant decisions due to construction starting on Spring Oak and Pickering Crossing need to be reviewed by the PC Members.
Mr. Allen asked Members how rigid does the PC want the DRC to be with things like soft concepts and design materials. How much continuity vs. cost (and replacement cost) should there be, and how far to extend the idea of continuity? He used the street light pole issue as an example and explained how cost is not necessarily a concern of the Township other than an obligation not to overburden future owners. The only exposure to cost for the Township is on dedicated streets, due to plowing. Members discussed the benefits of cast iron vs. aluminum light poles. Mr. Allen reminded the Members that cast iron was more expensive, but the Members and Mr. Kuhn, in attendance, still agreed to stay with the Township cast iron specification for TND 1 and 5.
Mr. Allen said the luminaires and lighting problems begin with the difficulty of getting a production model and detail information from the manufacturer. It is even more difficult to get a model on site and see it as it would look installed. Mr. Allen thought Penn Globe had withdrawn because they did not have a production unit available. Plus, to meet requirements, the developer would have needed to provide additional fixtures and poles increasing costs. King Lighting may replace Penn Globe as an approved equal, but to ensure quality and uniformity of lighting, luminaires need to be from the same manufacturer throughout the TND District. Mr. Allen wants to make these types of decisions with the DRC, without bias and personal preference. Mr. Kuhn added that there should be no flexibility from the cast iron standard.
Mr. Frens added that they are keeping a list of Design Guideline “holes”, and most items that are coming up for substitution are due to cost. He also said that builders tend to agree with recommendations rather than return to the DRC. Members discussed uniformity among developments and Mr. Westhafer said streetscapes are important development components that unify, and design integrity needed to be maintained.
Once again Mr. Allen mentioned the difficulty in deciding a substitution for curbing by JP Orleans. The builder wants to use granite pavers even though concrete was approved. The pavers would be easier to repair, but can be expensive, but there are thinner/cheaper ones available. Pavers are not mentioned in the Ordinance anywhere and although many prefer them, right now the Township can only suggest them as an allowable upgrade. Mr. Frens prefers natural stone and tinted concrete, but the tinting makes it hard to repair. Mr. Wright thought Belgian Block may be a nicer look than the concrete that was in the Final Approval drawings. Members decided that a specified Belgian Block/paver would be an allowable upgrade to the approved concrete. This way they are staying true to the Design Guidelines.
JP Orleans also wanted to use stamped and painted asphalt for the crosswalks instead of pavers and the DRC said no.
In consideration to uniformity and continuity between developments, Members wanted to keep to the ideals and agreed with Mr. Allen that it is difficult not to be desensitized by options. When dealing with issues such as streetscapes vs. lighting equipment differences or design vs. materials, the Township wants the Design Manual to be seen as a performance standard that allows for diversity by creativity, and flexibility. Mr. Allen thanked everyone and will email a summary of this discussion before going to the Board of Supervisors.
This item was removed from the agenda and will be on the May 13th agenda.
Mrs. Leland adjourned the meeting at 11 p.m. The Planning Commission’s next scheduled meeting is May 13, 2014 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.