Planning Commission: Wendy Leland, Chair, Bill Westhafer, Vice Chairman, Michael Allen, Michael Churchill, Andy Motel and Andre von Hoyer.
Consultants: Daniel Wright, P.E. and Thomas Comitta
Staff: Linda Csete, Township Manager, Lisa Gardner, Recording Secretary
Public: See Attached List
There were none.
Mr. Allen proposed a minor change to the June 10, 2014 draft minutes. Mr. Churchill moved to approve the June 10, 2014 minutes with the change, and Mr. von Hoyer seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion, there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Allen stated the new lights for the Route 29 Improvement Project were in, but the luminaires were delayed. He said the new sign posts were a grey punched style but they were supposed to be unpunched and black. Mr. Allen had a phone conversation with the PennDOT construction manager and it will be corrected. Mr. Churchill asked if the number of poles (84) could be reduced and was told it was up to PennDOT.
Mr. Motel said he met with Rob Prophet, from Traffic Planning and Design, Inc., about the possibility of adding a sidewalk to the portion of Route 29 from Phoenixville Pike (at railroad tracks) to Whitehorse Road. Mr. Motel said by the September meeting he should have a proposal from Mr. Prophet for preparing the layout for the sidewalk and obtaining the PennDOT permit. The Township would have to cover the costs related to the additional sidewalk installation, so the Supervisors must decide if they want to move forward with this work.
Mr. Allen announced that in the future, he will abstain from voting on all matters relating to Spring Oak and Devault Village at Spring Oak due to a conflict of interest. Mr. Allen reported on Mr. Mostoller’s request for a substitution in the Design Manual for Spring Oak. He wanted to be able to change from a natural stone veneer to a manufactured stone veneer. Mr. Frens and the Members were not opposed to the substitution. Mr. Frens said the builder was also using fiber cement siding instead of vinyl, and that this substitution was actually a JP Orleans upgrade.
Mr. Motel made a motion stating that the Planning Commission recommends to the Board of Supervisors, that JP Orleans, for Spring Oak, be able to have the option of using a manufactured stone in place of natural stone veneer subject to the approval of Mr. Frens and Mr. Comitta. Mrs. Leland seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion, there being none, called the vote. All were in favor. Mr. Allen did not vote.
Mr. Wright reminded the Members that the project has an upcoming Conditional Use Hearing. Mrs. Csete said the Hearing is scheduled for the August 4th Board of Supervisors Meeting.
Mr. Comitta stated that he, Mr. Westhafer, and Mr. Wright, explored the SALDO Chapter 22 Part 4. They have suggested improvements to the procedure for applicants that should improve the plan review process for the Township and its consultants. They debugged the 1982 ordinance, including the requirement for Sepia drawings and fixed metrics, typos and various housekeeping items. Applicants now must show 500 feet around the subject property in the sketch plan, file plans with a c.d. for ease of Township distribution and storage, and include 3D modeling. Mr. Allen wanted to discuss cost and timing of 3D submittals at a later date.
About 20 amendments have come about from this review and Mr. Comitta suggested this be added to September’s Agenda.
Mr. Comitta referenced his June 16th email. He gave an update on the site plan for the residential component of the Atwater development located just outside of the Township off Route 29 in Malvern. This proposed development first estimated at 500 units, is now well beyond 800 units, with 80 Single Family Dwellings, 96 & 400 Twins and Townhomes, and 250 apartments.
Joseph M. Keogh, Jr. introduced his architect Mr. Thomas Carnevale and his business partner Mr. Jeffery Bender. Mr. Carnevale, of Carnevale Eustis Architects, Inc., presented a Sketch Plan related to improvements of the property where the Stables Bar is now located at the corner of Coldstream and Charlestown Roads. Intended end use is an English style pub/full service restaurant, with seating capacity of approximately 90 inside and 52 on an outside patio. They are keeping a 29 seat bar and including a kids menu. There will be a kitchen addition and a handicapped accessible bathroom/entrance vestibule addition. Mr. Keogh intends on having 40 parking spaces, increasing toward the back, with landscaping replacing the pavement near the street corner. The additions to the building would change the square footage from 1,857 to 2,800.
Details from the Applicant’s discussion with Members are listed below.
Mr. Allen thought the parking was inadequate for the patio. Mr. Keogh pointed out that if it is nice weather, there is generally a shift of patrons to the outside. And although he hopes to fill all the seating, adding the patio to the mix doesn’t necessarily mean that the inside is full. Mr. Allen said 150 seats can bring 50 cars, and 40 spots are planned, so the overflow is a concern. When a Member asked Mr. Bender if this was his best and largest attempt at parking he said yes, according to current setbacks. Mr. Dungee, the current owner of Stables Bar, said overflow parking is now in a field that was once gravel but grass has grown up through it. It can hold at least 30 cars.
Mr. Comitta was comfortable with the number of parking stalls planned. He mentioned that when the Applicants first came to the Board they had a 90 person patio; they had taken the suggestion from that Meeting to reduce the size, and are now at a 50 person patio. He said it would be helpful to have some metrics on outdoor dining. His examples (from the borough of West Chester) averaged about 30 seats. Mrs. Leland was concerned about headlights shining into neighbor’s homes.
Noise was another concern for the Members. Mr. Churchill wanted some type of conditions to mitigate the impact of the intensity increase such as a time or time limit for outdoor dining/patio usage. Mr. Bender said he could set rules for the patio part of the restaurant.
Mr. Carnevale was not ready to give more detail about the patio enclosure, or a landscape and screening plan. Also, he didn’t want to have a small sized patio with a 6 foot high fence around it. The architect said he had liked Mr. Comitta’s suggestion for a landscape and screening plan but it took up too much space. Then, Mr. Comitta clarified his earlier suggestion for spacing of the trees. Mr. Motel told Mr. Carnevale to work with Mr. Comitta and the neighbors to make everyone comfortable with mitigation of traffic nuisances, noise, cooking odors, and lighting. A neighbor in attendance, Mr. Haefner also warned about the loud noise coming from the intersection to the patio diners.
Mr. Dungee warned about the dangerous intersection and the habits of drivers, such as speeding, and avoiding the stop sign, etc. Per Mr. von Hoyer, this intersection was identified in the ACT 209 Survey as one in critical need of improvement. Mr. von Hoyer was concerned about the number of cars at the intersection and overflow parking along the college grounds. Mr. Comitta said that there was a traffic light planned for 2030, but a 3 way stop could provide relief sooner. Mr. Donald Robinson and his wife were also neighbors in attendance. They told the Members that they need to be able to cross the intersection safely. Mr. Robinson thought a 3 way stop would help them. Since Mrs. Robinson had been rear-ended trying to turn into her driveway, the Robinsons appreciated anything that would be done to improve the intersection’s safety. Mr. Motel told them since it was a state road; there was a limit to what the Township could do.
Mr. Carl Haefner and his wife Julie were happy with how Mr. Dungee allowed them to have their privacy and wanted that to continue, even if the use intensity of the property increased. Mr. Jeremy Gajkowski, also a neighbor, told Members that noise travels in the direction of his and his neighbor’s homes, from the Stables parking lot.
The last neighbor to speak was Mr. Dan Mortensen, the Executive Vice President of Valley Forge Christian College. He confirmed Mr. Keogh’s statement that the public water and gas stop in front of the main entrance to the college. Mr. Churchill said the increase in water usage will be large and could affect neighbors. Mr. Wright said Mr. Keogh will be required to obtain all permits from the DEP and approval for water usage.
Mr. Carnevale was looking to Members for guidance regarding Stormwater Management. Mr. Wright cautioned Mr. Carnevale that even though the plan decreases impervious coverage, it will still need a below ground infiltration system. This should be taken into consideration with any increase in parking.
Mr. Comitta said this was a small lot and a small project but it unearthed many ordinance issues (33) even at a Sketch Plan level.
Suggestions and reminders given to the Applicants:
Applicants said that Stormwater Management and curbing are large expenditures and they will do what it takes to avoid triggering those requirements. They want to make everyone happy while improving the property. Mr. Dungee told everyone that he was selling to someone either way and felt these individuals are trying to act in a responsible manner toward the neighborhood.
Mrs. Leland told the Applicants to talk with the neighbors and then the Planning Commission will give some recommendations for slight alterations at their next visit.
Mr. Tim Townes of J. Loew & Associates and Mr. L. Clark Blynne of Gulph Creek Development presented a revised Preliminary Plan for the Village at General Warren which will include a Marriott Extended Stay Hotel with 128 rooms. Mrs. Leland recused herself from this agenda item. Mrs. Csete said the applicants notified their abutting neighbors of tonight’s meeting.
Mr. Townes mentioned a letter from Mr. Frens dated July 8th, 2014. Not every Member had received the letter. The letter involved detail regarding design guideline dimensions, details, and window specifics, etc. Mr. Townes stated he would suggest to Mr. Frens that the details can be handled at the next DRC Meeting, and the Members agreed. Mr. Churchill stated he believed the Township had too much influence over design details. Mr. Townes will first use samples to narrow down the choices for starting, and then offered to do wall sized mock-ups in the field. That way he can begin to build.
Mr. Comitta said that most of the items on his review letter dated July 9th, 2014 were resolved. In Section 9 of Mr. Comitta’s letter updated July 9th, he tells the applicant that 10 of the reserved parking spaces should be paved at the time of initial site development. Mr. Townes agreed since there were too many in reserve. He will also comply with relocating some parking spaces as suggested.
Mr. Comitta asked for a larger scale version of the cross section of the parking area. He suggested skipping the piers mentioned in Item #7, due to the grade change for the parking lot.
Mr. Townes addressed comments on Mr. Wright’s review letter dated July 15th, 2014. Mr. Wright also wanted Mr. Townes to specify on the plans an indication of the conditions for building the reserve stalls. Mr. Townes wanted a decrease in the parking stall size but the Board needs to grant this waiver.
Mr. Wright said the Applicant proposes to utilize an underground vault to store runoff and irrigate the stored runoff onsite. Mr. Wright needs more information from the design engineer regarding the irrigation system in order to perform a complete review ensuring the proposal meets Township Stormwater Management requirements. It will have zero impact on Valley Creek but the developer needs the NPDES and DEP permits to meet SWM criteria. He is working directly with the engineer to get more information.
After approval of the Preliminary/Final Plan by Mr. Wright, the Applicant can apply for the DEP permit, and then finally obtain the approval of the DRC. Mr. Wright was willing to recommend approval contingent upon the satisfaction of all items in the review letters from himself and Mr. Comitta.
Mr. Comitta was also in favor of a recommendation since his outstanding items were mechanical and not policy oriented. But, Mr. Comitta and Mr. Wright both wanted a note on the plan regarding the trigger for installation of the reserved parking spaces. Mr. Wright reminded the Applicants that he will not at this time, recommend to the Board of Supervisors, because the review letters must be fully resolved.
Mr. Allen asked about Item #11 and Mr. Wright said it denotes what size truck can be accommodated in the development, often used for fire trucks. Mr. Comitta will review the species of trees being used for perimeter tree planting.
Members discussed the 5 foot wide sidewalk that connects to the site and continues to the intersection, then to Route 29 frontage (tightly to the curb). It is primarily a service sidewalk and can connect to the future Atwater project. Steps and a pathway less close to the road were suggested.
Mr. Westhafer opened discussion to the public. Mr. Bruce Holenstein, of Gravic Inc., was asked for his opinion of the new project. Mr. Holenstein was very much in favor of having a center in walking distance for the local employees. He was impressed with the type of shops expected, and was pleased when considering the possibility of less desirable scenarios. He said the developers had held a meeting for the surrounding neighbors and it had gone well. In addition, screening will eventually be shown to everyone that had attended the meeting. His concern was the traffic, and the difficulty of getting out of the Commons. Signage was no longer a concern, but there will have to be an official meeting of the members of the Commons to amend the protective covenants with regard to the new project’s lot.
Mr. Churchill asked about a time frame for completion. Mr. Blynne said they hope to open next fall. The hotel will open first. Mr. von Hoyer asked if Marriott had any say in the retail store area, and Mr. Blynne said no, but Mr. Townes said they liked the restaurant idea. In reference to Mr. Frens’ earlier letter, Mr. Comitta suggested that a note be added to the plans indicating that if the building type changes new Design Guidelines must be provided.
Mr. Motel made a motion to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that in lieu of building a wall or pier/fence that a tree/shrub landscaping modification be allowed due to the grading at the site. Mr. Churchill seconded. Mr. Westhafer called for discussion. There being none, called the vote. All were in favor. Mrs. Leland did not vote.
A motion to recommend The Village at General Warren Preliminary/Final Plan be approved continent upon the full satisfaction of Advanced GeoServices review letter dated July 8th, 2014, Thomas Comitta Associates, Inc. review letter dated July 9th, 2014, and the Frens & Frens review letter dated July 8th, 2014 was made by Mr. Motel. Mr. von Hoyer seconded. Mr. Westhafer called for discussion, there being none called the vote. All were in favor, Mrs. Leland did not vote.
Mrs. Leland adjourned the meeting at 10:25 p.m. The Planning Commission’s next scheduled meeting is September 9, 2014 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.